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Question DetailsAsked on 5/18/2011

Anyone know about San Francisco building codes relating to lofts that were added into a Victorian?

my condo is in an old Victorian home that was converted from a TIC to a condo. The previous owners opened up the ceiling, cut into the attic and then put in a loft. an architect implied that my house was a lemon because of this loft. Then yesterday an electrician said 'the city can NEVER come in here.' This is obviously a problem considering there is a lot of work I would like to do before I sell. I asked him if it could be brought up to code and he said no, stating something about ceiling height and the fact that Victorians weren't designed to hold that sort of weight. I find it hard to believe that it is impossible to bring something up to code, but he seemed pretty sure. I'm looking for a little advice. Has anyone had experiences relating to parts of your home that couldn't be brought up to code? If so, were you able to do other renovations that might have needed permits? How do you navigate that with the city? What about getting a variance? Does anyone have any recommendations on a contractor that might be able to work on bringing structural items up to code without it costing $100,000?

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    2 Answers


    I would call a local home inspector to come out and take a look (please do this BEFORE you purchase another home). They usually know the local code and may be able to give you some idea of if it could be corrected. This may give you a better idea about the actual violations WITHOUT bringing it to the attention of the city...YET. Once you have the advice/report from a home inspector you may want to ask them if they could recommend/refer someone that they feel could help you. This should be addresses ASAP if you do have plans to sell it in the future, or for your own safety even. It would be a costly disaster if they roof started caving in because it is improperly supported. It does look like additional support beams could be added in order to secure the ceiling, but without seeing your condo it would be impossible to tell.

    Answered 9 years ago by cutemetschic


    As a home and buliding inspector, I agree with that advice (not surprizingly!)

    I would caution you to make CERTAIN that the inspector you hire is either ICC code certified or has a knowledge of existing building code and is not afraid to discuss codes. You will find that many inspectors run scared from mentioning codes (fear of liaibilty) and will be fairly useless to you in this instance.

    In addition, it is worth pointing out that any buyer who has an inspection perofromed on your loft cannot insist on its complience with current code. They can request specific safety items be fixed or upgraded (and you can tell them to go pound sand - or agree to some or all of the requests). The only code that matters from a real estate transaction standpoint is the code at the time the "loft" was created. Since no one can accurately prove that, it may be a moot point to worry about code.

    There may be local use and occupancy inspections by the township/county, however, that is not likely if you did not have one when you purchased.

    Finally, it is wise to address safety issues and issues of significant concern, but making repairs to bring a home up to code is not often (if ever) done.

    Answered 9 years ago by Sherlock Homes

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