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fire codeFire code inspections when selling your house is a very important topic.  Because it is and since there’s been a significant change recently, I thought I should revise and re-publish my original article.

Unfortunately too many people don’t take this seriously.  Homeowners don’t protect themselves properly.  Buyers take down fire extinguishers because, to be frank, they’re quite ugly.  Neither are fully protected for the most part in my experience unless they install an alarm system.

Please don’t make this mistake because fires do happen.  Sometimes it’s just from a silly mistake when you’re cooking.  Always be sure you’re protected.

Fire Code Inspections When Selling Your House

New Jersey requires all residential properties being sold or rented to have fire code inspections.  Required are smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and a fire extinguisher.  Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors can be battery operated for resale properties but new construction needs them permanently wired into the electrical system.  If you do major renovations and/or additions needing a building permit, this often requires wired in detectors too.

Where Do Smoke Detectors, Carbon Monoxide Detectors & Fire Extinguishers Go?

Both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors must be within 10 feet of all bedrooms.  Additionally, smoke detectors must also be on levels of the house.  For a typical colonial home this means the main floor (not in the kitchen), bedroom areas, basement and attic.  Don’t put a smoke detector near a bathroom because shower steam gets inside causing problems.

Fire extinguishers must be within 10 feet of the kitchen, clearly visible, no higher than 5 feet from the floor, mounted on the bracket they came with, have their instructions clearly visible and be on a pathway to an exit.  It must also be a 2A:10B:C type.  However, some towns want them in the kitchen.  I just experienced this with Leonia surprisingly.  Check with your town to be sure.

Battery Operated Smoke Detectors

There’s been a big change to battery operated smoke detectors.  You must now use 10 year sealed battery operated smoke detectors.  This applies to combination smoke and carbon monoxide detectors too (I advise this on all carbon units).  Here’s why this change was needed:

Batteries were not always replaced when they wore out.  They’d beep when it was time to install new ones.  People took them out to stop this noise but didn’t always replace them.  As a result, fires weren’t always detected early so people and firemen were often hurt and sometimes killed.   Property damage was worse too.

Scheduling Your Fire Code Certificate Inspection

Fire Code Certificate Inspections are always scheduled through your town.  Each town does this differently.  Sometimes it’s the Building Department, sometimes the Fire Department, sometimes another Department.  Start off by calling your local Building Department.  If they don’t do Fire Code Inspections, they’ll know who does.

Here’s a very important tip – don’t wait until the last minute.  It takes several weeks to schedule and complete the required town Fire Code Certificate inspection.  A town might also have their own additional CCO inspection.  Schedule your Fire Code and all other required inspections at least 1 month before the closing date.

Here’s another tip: Find out when the bank or title company needs the inspection certificate.  Since it is always before the closing, ask your attorney so you have everything scheduled as needed.

Open Permits

Why am I worrying about open permits and what is this?  When you do something that requires a permit, you file for a permit at the local Building Department.  The folks there check out what you want to do for compliance with Building Codes and regulations.  If everything is OK, your permit is approved and the work can be done.

Once work is completed, the Building Inspector has to come to make sure everything was done correctly.  If you pass his inspection, then the permit is closed.  An open permit is one where that final inspection hasn’t been done.

Open permits happen frequently because homeowners don’t realize that they need that final town inspection.  Contractors don’t take care of it becasue they can’t wait around for hours waiting for the inspector.  I see this all the time for such things as a new hot water heater, furnace etc.

Fire code inspections when you’re selling your house will not happen if you have an open permit.  The solution to avoid a last minute delay due to open permits is simple.  When you put your home on the market for sale, check with your Building Department to make sure there are no open permits.  If there are, you have plenty of time to get the permit closed out.

So there you have it.  Fire Code Inspections when selling your home did need to be revised.  I hope this helps a lot of you. If you have questions about the other aspects of selling a home just get in touch.

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