Living within the Rules: 5 of the Most Important Building Codes to Know when Renovating

Your renovation project has finally kicked off. You are looking to improve the condition of your property and save some money in the process. If you are thinking of doing everything yourself, you need to know that there are a number of building codes you need to adhere to. Yes, you may know how to use your power tools, but you could be the most ignorant person in your neighborhood. And why is that? Building codes, the regulations governing everything in construction are worth knowing, and without these, all your efforts could go to waste. Moreover, if you do not comply with these codes, you may be required to pay fines and deal with costly damages that may force you to redo your project. If you think you are cutting costs by not implementing the codes, then you should know that not conforming will affect the value of your property when you finally decide to sell. A serious and sharp-eyed inspector will most likely spot those violations and this will shrink your asking price. Therefore, when it comes to renovations, it is advisable to hire the services of an experienced contractor who complies with the local building codes. Some of the most important building codes are evident in the following areas:

Property Size

Before carrying out any renovations, you need to be sure about your property’s size. Is the area sufficient for you to carry out the necessary renovations or make the needed adjustments? Take your time to draw out the elements of your space: if it’s a restaurant, you can note the kitchen with its fire detectors and suppression systems. If you are renovating an office, make sure you map out your cubicles so you can know to what extent the renovations will go. At the end of it all, you need to be certain that the building can function profitably with the renovations made in your current space.

If you are looking to extend your property, you need to ensure that the area requirements are in accordance with the local zoning laws. For instance, if you extend the kitchen of your restaurant and go beyond the zoning setback requirements, then you’ll be required to tear down the addition.

Bathroom Venting

Now that you had the new humidity control venting fan up and running in your bathroom, you have nothing to worry about. However, if the fans vents into an attic space that is enclosed, then you have violated the building codes. The accumulation of humid air in an enclosed attic often results in rotten wood as well as mold growth. According to the building codes, a fan should be fitted such that it expels the humid air of the bathroom to the outside, and this should take place via a four-inch diameter vent pipe. Any possible shorter route would offer maximum efficiency.

Smoke Detection

A smoke detector is an essential home feature that helps protect the property against fire. It is recommended that smoke detectors be fitted on every floor of a building, which may include the bedroom, sleeping area, or even the kitchen. According to the building codes, alarms installed on the ceiling of the building should be at least four inches from the walls, while those fitted on the walls of the building should be about four to twelve inches from the point where the ceiling and the walls intersect. To ensure maximum performance, your alarms should be fitted at least three feet from any HVAC vents, lighting fixtures, or ceiling fans.

In addition to the above, you need to make sure that the smoke alarms are hard wired and have battery backup. Apart from that, multiple alarms need to be connected so they can go off together. For any renovations being undertaken within the property, you must make sure that any battery-only alarms are updated so they can comply with the current standards and requirements.

Heating and Cooling

When you are doing your renovations, you need to know that HVAC systems also have codes that regulate how they should be fitted, repaired, or maintained. As is often the case, many people tend to depend on the rule-of-thumb practices to conduct their installation or equipment sizing. The installation of the HVAC systems is usually a complex yet delicate process which is subject to various code provisions. Unless you are a trained and qualified technician, it is advisable to not install this system without professional assistance. When you decide to do it on your own, you are breaking the law by violating crucial building codes. Moreover, dealing with these appliances without the right skills is dangerous because you expose yourself to harmful cooling chemicals and combustible fuels. If you are planning on installing an HVAC system within your building, make sure you seek heating and cooling help from reputable professionals.

Junction Box

When it comes to renovations, junction boxes also have their own codes which contractors and building owners must adhere to. Unless you make your electrical connections inside a junction box that is approved by law, then you are simply jeopardizing your efforts. Junction boxes are instrumental in that they help in protecting electrical connections and preventing the possibilities of fire. Additionally, according to the building codes, all junction boxes need to be accessible and visible. Apart from that, the ends of wires inside the junction boxes need to be approximately six inches long to make connections easier. Lastly, wires that enter the box should be firmly clamped in the box itself to avoid movements.

Last Word

Renovating your property efficiently means looking into the codes and regulations required for the specific area you are dealing with. It is advisable that you seek professional opinion regarding the issue of building codes because, in as much as you may want to imagine they do not exist, these laws are there and neglecting them can prove costly. While undertaking your home improvement or renovation project, you need to ensure an inspection is carried out throughout so you can be confident you are doing everything according to the book. Obviously, there are numerous risks that may accompany a renovation project, but you need to know that the rewards after completion are usually more fulfilling. By following the law and sticking to the codes, you’ll be in a position to avoid making mistakes that could prove costly in the future.

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