Things To Remember For Your Contract: Building Codes

Written by bprescottFebruary 15, 2012
A building permit

Making It Legal: Remembering Building Codes

The building codes that are decided by the city or county where you live are designed for new homes and renovations to existing ones. So remodeling a bathroom will put you in touch with your local building department. The codes are created as a way to protect you from poor workmanship, which can be dangerous, and to provide a standard and uniform way that work, especially electrical and plumbing work, is completed. A building permit is issued by your local building department, which follows up with a series of inspections during various stages of the construction process and at its completion.

In every bathroom, two key utilities- water and electricity- can present potential safety issues, so they’re on the radar screen of your local building code inspector. Make a visit to your local building department and ask about the codes. This agency usually charges a fee for a building permit, which has an expiration date and must be posted in a window of your house. Before the permit expires, the building inspector must inspect the work. If the work isn’t finished by the permit's expiration date, the permit usually can be renewed- for a fee.

Many plumbing codes let the homeowner do most of the work inside the house, but if the job requires a connection to the city lines, a licensed plumber is needed. (Just imagine how much damage a dimwit homeowner could do polluting the city water system!) Both the plumbing and electrical codes explain who can do the work, what materials may be used (and those that may not), and how the job should be done. This means that codes can specify how many electrical outlets there should be, where they should be installed, the thickness of the wallboard, and the size of drains and pipes.

When a bathroom remodeling project involves an addition to and expansion of the footprint of the building, you need to be aware of zoning law restrictions that stipulate the percentage of land that can be covered by buildings, and how and what percentage of open property is distributed among the side, back, and front yards. Take a look at your property survey and find out just how close your house is to adjoining property lines.

If you want to build where the zoning law prohibits, you must apply for a variance to the zoning law, which requires submitting property plans and blueprints of the bathroom addition, making an appearance at the appeals board, and posting a notice so your neighbors have an opportunity to respond to your plans- and possibly object. Then comes a hearing where you or your attorney present your request for a variance. Sure, it's a long and arduous process, but don't consider skipping it.

The contractor, not the homeowner, should apply for a building permit because the name on the permit is the person who is responsible for meeting the building code.




From ‘Bathroom Remodeling For Dummies’
Copyright © 2003 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana
Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.



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