Learn What Building Code Violations Are and How to Avoid Them

Learn What Building Code Violations Are and How to Avoid Them

If you are not the home builder or remodeler, chances are the only time you hear about building codes is when some catastrophe has happened and is being blamed on building code violations. However, if you are building a home or having one built, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with your local codes so you don’t run afoul of them.

Building codes are a set of standards created to ensure a building is safe when people are in it. They address everything from how close a toilet should be to a wall, to where is the best place to put a smoke detector. There are a set of codes created and maintained by the International Code Council that addresses all kind of buildings. Most municipalities adopt these codes with some additions or changes to meet local conditions.

Not following these rules can result in building code violations, redoing the work and possible fines. Here are some of the most common issues that building inspectors see:

  • Improper placement of smoke detectors – Smoke alarms should be found on each level of the house and outside each bedroom. If they are mounted on the ceiling they should be 4 feet away from walls. New homes need to have the smoke detectors hardwired with a battery backup.
  • Improper venting in the bathroom – All the warm moist air should be sent outside through correct venting. If you try to vent your hot, steamy air into the attic, you are inviting mold to grow, or condensation to form and begin to rot your wooden beams. Neither is something you want in your house.
  • Improper deck attachment – The codes for decks changed in 1989 to require building ledgers that are screwed into the structure and protected by flashing. Without flashing, those ledgers are subject to rot.


Experts point out that older homes which have had layers of work done over the years are probably not up to code because they are not meeting every standard. It is important for homeowners to check with Houston Plans and Permitting prior to attempting a remodel not only to determine what permit requirements are required but to determine if there are new requirements that may affect the project. When remodeling you may be required to bring aspects of your project up to code that you were not planning on. In general, if the home is maintained properly and the big issues like plumbing, venting, and electrical components are installed to code than an inspector isn’t going to make the owner re-do it.

The best way to avoid building code violations when you are building a new structure or remodeling your house is to go to the local inspector and get a copy of the current codes and then follow the process of pulling a permit, submitting your building plans and getting inspections completed. We have experts on staff that will work with you to design your new home or remodel, submit plans and get your building permit. A home remodel without a building permit can mean building code violations and fines.

Even if you have a builder doing the work for you, it is still a good idea to review the codes so that you can protect yourself. You may not need to know that handrails for stairs should be at maximum thirty-eight inches above the nose of the stairs, but you should know that there is a standard for how they end. Having an expert in plans and permitting in your corner can pay dividends if there is a problem with building inspections during construction.

Ultimately, as the homeowner, you are responsible for any building code violations that are found. Some municipalities could make you have the work re-done at your expense. Also, insurance companies may not cover any damage that is done to or for a change in your home that doesn’t meet code. Your best bet is to find out what your municipalities building codes are, make sure you are meeting them or hire a professional firm that can create and submit your plans and pull your permits for you. Proper permitting by an expert will save you the hassle, expense and the worry that your family is not safe in your home.

  • About Houston Plans and Permits
  • Houston Plans & Permits provides custom design services for builders and homeowners located in greater Houston. Our home plans are designed to meet your town’s building code requirements and our professional permit expeditors will oversee and complete your building permit applications and walk them through your town’s entire Permit process.

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