- Josef Koller
Taking a look at building code violations
Building code violations are a common problem but they are preventable. Better understanding of local codes helps builders and building owners avoid them.
According to a survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders in 2013, construction workers often ignore installation instructions stipulated by manufacturers.
The survey also revealed that many contractors demonstrate striking lack of code knowledge. Additionally, the contractors prefer using a number of cost-cutting methods that result in code violation.
Some of the most common violations listed by building officials involve plumbing, fuel gas systems, life safety and electrical installations. Issues surrounding accessibility and general design were noted as resulting in frequent penalties. The same applies to working without permits, incomplete handrails, missing ground fault circuit interrupters and installing smoke alarms in wrong locations.
Code enforcement in Arlington County
Arlington Code Enforcement is aimed at ensuring that contractors adhere to the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code. This operational component forms part of the Inspection Services Division (ISD). It helps preserve the value and quality of both private and public property in addition to verifying overall safety.
All buildings are expected to meet basic installation and maintenance standards, which are uniformly enforced. Some of the codes enforced in the county include the Arlington Noise Control Ordinance. Virginia Maintenance Code and the Arlington Condition of Private Property Ordinance. The Arlington Safe Structures Initiative guides the enforcement operations.
Some of the code enforcement property inspections conducted by the county officials include
General exterior peeling paint, broken windows and defective gutters
Electrical and mechanical requirements defective heating, defective electrical system and defective receptacles
Occupancy, light and ventilation limitations defective exhaust fans and defective windows
Fire safety requirements missing or defective smoke detectors
Fixture and plumbing facilities requirements, adequacy of fixtures in addition to supply and volume of water
General interior defective handrails (stair elements) and peeling paint
A significant number of property inspections are conducted in response to requests by residents. Property owners found in violation of the building code are given notices of violation. Each notice stipulates a deadline for rectifying the specified issues. Oftentimes, residents have to apply for a building permit to carry out the repairs without committing further violations.
Code enforcement officials are entitled to investigate complaints about structural or other sub-standard building conditions that pose a threat to the public or occupants. The investigations are typically conducted within 24 hours of receiving the emergency complaints.
Code consultation service
The Arlington County offers a free code consultation service to residents. This is aimed at allowing anyone planning a commercial or residential project an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the applicable codes. The consultation presents an opportunity to ask any building code questions with the aim to avoid committing any violations.
Inspection Services Division (ISD) staff are prepared answer any questions relating to architectural and systems designs. The consultation is a voluntary session that only covers issues pertaining to the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code. ISD staff will not provide any expert guidance regarding zoning or environmental services.