Addition to home makes master bedroom illegal.
Q. I nearly closed escrow on the sale of my home, but the deal fell through over a minor problem found by the buyer's home inspector. I own an old house with an added bedroom and garage. According to the buyer's inspector, the master bedroom has no window to provide fire escape because the additions have covered up the original windows. To me, this is a picky detail. If a fire occurred, I would simply exit through the living room or the back bedroom. Why is that a big problem?
A. The big problem is that you might not be able to exit through the living room or rear bedroom. Suppose you woke up to find the house ablaze, including the adjoining rooms, with all avenues of escape engulfed in flames. At that moment, you might desperately wish for an operable window or any means of direct outside access, but there would be no fulfillment of that wish.
Lack of a bedroom window violates three pertinent requirements: a source of natural light, outside ventilation and, most important of all, a means of direct escape from the building in the event of an emergency. All three are strictly required if a room is to be designated as a legal bedroom.
Noncompliance means that a purported three-bedroom house has only two legal bedrooms. From a buyer's perspective, this significantly reduces the value of the home, as well as its marketability for future resale. Unfortunately, there appears to be no practical solution. If an illegal bedroom has no exterior wall, the problem is not correctable. The situation is certainly lamentable, but the inspector had no choice but to disclose it to the prospective buyers.
Q. A friend advised me to turn off the water supply valves to my washing machine whenever the laundry is not in use. She said that leaving the valves turned on can have a negative effect on the water pipes in the house. Does this sound practical to you?
A. Your friend's advice has some advantages, but not for the reasons cited. Whether the laundry valves are turned off has no effect, positive or negative, on your plumbing system. However, shutting off the valves can reduce stress on the hoses that connect to your washer, and here's why that matters.
Many homes have suffered severe damage when old washer hoses have burst open. What commonly happens, especially with old hoses or when water pressure is high, is that a hose will develop a bubble, just like an aneurysm in a blood vessel. When this bubble pops, the effect is the same as turning on a garden hose in your laundry room. If no one is home at the time, your home could be inundated with water.
An effective way to prevent this, without having to turn the valves on and off, is to install steel-braided washer hoses. A pair of reinforced hoses can be purchased at most hardware stores, and this is cheap insurance compared to thousands of dollars worth of damage to your home.
* To write to Barry Stone, visit him on the web at www.housedetective.com, or write AMG, 1776 Jami Lee Court, Suite 218, San Luis Obispo, CA 94301.
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