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Question DetailsAsked on 7/19/2016

boarding up a house

i want to board up my mother house

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1 Answer


Be sure to check with Planning and Zoning department about local rules - some areas require painted boards roughly matching or complimentary to the building finish, some require them on the inside rather than outside of the glass (better for looks but does not protect glass from vandalism), some consider a boarded-up house abandoned and boarding it up starts the clock on city/county condemnation proceedings, etc.

Also, if in a homeowner's association or condo or such there are undoubtedly rules against doing that except in emergency situations like right after a fire.

Also, check on fire code requirements - commonly there has to be provision for ventilation so any gas leak or sewer gas does not build up to explosive levels. Sometimes required unless the gasline is physically disconnected from the house by the utility (they usually take the meter away and cap the line there).

Even if utilities are cut off, you still want to consider ventilation issues - especially if a damp basement or crawlspace situation or real humid climate or such, because musty smell from mildew and mold can set in within days in that environment even if mildew and mold growth is not visible. Even in normal houses a persistent musty smell that is very hard to get rid of, and book and fabric mildew, sets in pretty quick if house if not kept conditioned (heated and cooled or at least ventilated with air changes).

Your contractor for boarding up could be a Carpenter - Framing or a Handyman (your Angies List Search the List categories), but the usual company for this is a Water and Smoke Damage contractor because they commonly do it after fires.

You also want to check on winterizing as applicable, if being totally boarded up and not attended, to shutting off the gas and water and draining and blowing out pipes and water heater and boiler and such, turning off electrical power, etc. Also - if not heating it in winter conditions, best to actually physically disconnect the water line away from the house if feasible or at least cap it right inside the shutoff valve, because commonly valves leak a bit so the lines can be refilled with water over time, causing ruptured tanks and pipes - I have seen that SOOO many times in our true winter area. In truly cold areas where the pipe could freeze in the ground or because the house is cold and there is a pipe stubout in the house, the best you can do is make sure the city also shuts off the water supply at the street so there are two valves in line to stop the flow - and before that check if the inside shutoff actually totally stops the flow. If not, replace it with new one or cut and cap the line inside to stop possible leakage into the house system.

Also - consider if shutting off power, any alarm system goes out with that, as does any sump pump - indoors or at outside wetwell. Also, any sewage lift pump in house or at sepric tank/leach field would be out - which if there is any chance of sewer backup due to high groundwater or localized flooding can mean backup into the house if they are out of service. Sometimes there is a shutoff valve where the sewer pipe exists the house which might or might not totally shut off any potential backflow.

Also - sewer gas smell and possible explosive sewer gases can build up in the house once drain traps start going dry, so commonly you have to add a quart or so of water to them every few weeks to year or so, depending on ventilation and humidity in the drain area. I have seen drains go dry in a couple of weeks when unused in hot dry desert areas, but also have seen humid basement floor drains go a few years without drying out. Even if gases are not escaping, the trap water can get awfully stagnant and stinky over time if not flushed with water every so often.

Also consider that boarded up houses (except during fire/storm renovation) that are unoccupied generally cannot be insured, so the value of the house is at risk. If this is an Estate issue, unless you personally directly inherited the entire house already, generally an estate executor/personal representative is required to protect the assets for the benefit of the beneficiary and for payment of estate debts and so forth - which would include keeping insurance on the house.

Also, a boarded up house is a magnet in many areas for vandals, partying kids, drug dealers, illegal drug "cookers" like for meth labs, thieves, and people scagenging copper and appliances and such.

Consider also, if going to be sold in fairly short order, shutting of utilities inhibits any maintenance or repair work needed prior to sale, and of course lack of utilities and/or boarding up the house has a catastrophic effect on sale showings - will turn away most buyers before they even get to the house.

Consider also property maintenance - picking up debris and trash (as it will become a junk magnet if boarded up) and mowing the lawn and picking up flyers on porch and such to meet abandoned property care requirements so you do not start getting tickets and have the local government start abandoned property proceedings on the property.

You did not say WHY you want to board it up or why it needs that, but all things considered it is commonly better to see if there is a neighbor who will do it for $10-30/week (depending on whether mowing for you too) or so or get a Property Management company to maintain the place and run water every so often and check the heat is on and such than to board it up.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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