"C/O" CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY

IN MANY MUNICIPALITIES THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY, LOCAL BUILDING OFFICIALS ARE REQUIRED TO INSPECT ALL HOMES, APARTMENTS AND COMMERCIAL BUILDINGS BEFORE ANYONE NEW IS ALLOWED TO MOVE IN. IF THE HOMES DO NOT PASS THIS C/O (CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY) INSPECTION, THEY CANNOT TECHNICALLY BE SOLD. ON THE WHOLE, THESE ARE MOSTLY SUPERFICIAL INSPECTIONS. ONLY THE MOST OBVIOUS DEFICIENCIES ARE NOTED. USUALLY IF THE HOME IS IN A RUN-DOWN STATE, THE BUYER MAY PROMISE THE MUNICIPALITY TO CORRECT THE INSPECTION DEFICIENCIES ONCE THE SALE GOES THROUGH. IF THIS IS ACCEPTABLE TO THE MUNICIPALITY, THE BUILDING THEN RECEIVES A CONDITIONAL C/O UNTIL ALL INSPECTION ITEMS ARE CORRECTED. ANY DEFICIENCIES NOTED DURING THIS INSPECTION THAT ARE CONSIDERED HAZARDOUS OR SERIOUS IN NATURE MUST BE CORRECTED IMMEDIATELY BEFORE ANY TYPE OF C/O CAN BE ISSUED.

GETTING READY

THE FOLLOWING IS A LIST OF SOME IMPORTANT THINGS YOU SHOULD CHECK AND CORRECT TO PREPARE FOR A SUCCESSFUL C/O INSPECTION:

1. Paint all exterior woodwork that hasn't been painted in a long time and looks it. Any obvious flaws like a missing windowpane or a hole in the building will surely be noted on the report.

2. Repair any major cracked sidewalks or walkways that are in a deteriorated state. Any ledged, or raised sections of concrete, which present a possible tripping hazard must be repaired. One of the key concerns for obtaining a C/O is that all safety hazards are removed.

3. Make sure all electrical junction boxes, outlets and switches have coverplates. Make sure all wiring running through the basement is not just hanging down from the floor joists. It should run through the centers of the joists, not stapled on the bottom. If all electrical work was done by a licensed electrician and passed inspection by the municipality, you should have no electrical problems.

4. Make sure that you have GFIC outlets in the bathrooms, the kitchen wet area (either side of the kitchen sink) and on the exterior of the building. Make sure that you have a jumper ground cable, which is clamped on both sides of your water meter. (This is a common fault that is very often noted on C/O Reports) It usually requires about one dollar's worth of electrical supplies, one screwdriver, and about two minutes of time to correct this deficiency.

5. Make sure you have live smoke alarms on every level of the building. Recently some municipalities have required smoke alarms in every bedroom in the building as well. Even in towns where C/O's are not required, usually a Fire Marshall is sent out to make sure the building has working smoke alarms as part of his fire inspection. Make it a point to change the batteries in your smoke alarms at least twice a year. Do it when you change your clocks at Daylight Savings Time.

6. Fix any plumbing leaks. Make sure all plumbing is properly vented. Usually in homes where the plumbing work was done by a licensed plumber, one could rest assured that everything was done correctly. This is especially true if a permit was taken out and the work was inspected by the local building officials. However, sometimes a "handyman homeowner" does some pretty outrageous and imaginative things to a plumbing system that are obviously not code, and that's when some pretty expensive repair work has to be done to correct the plumbing project. If your home has a sump pump connected to the sewage system, disconnect it imediately. Sewage systems are for sewage, not for ground water.

7. Spackle and paint all interior cracks and holes on the walls and ceilings. If the interior has something that is obviously wrong like a hole in the floor, fix it.

8. Make sure all stairways have handrails. (Basement and attic stairways usually get this write-up.)

9. Replace all cracked or broken window panes. Make sure all windows and doors have locks. Some municipalities check to make sure that every door has a doorstep.

10. Make sure the heating system and all the stove burners are in good working condition. It wouldn't hurt to have the heating system service prior to a C/O Inspection. A tag on the heating unit showing that the system was recently serviced will help the inspector do his job and will help you sell your home more easily.

IT'S REALLY HARD TO SAY WHAT A MUNICIPAL BUILDING INSPECTOR WILL COME UP WITH DURING AN INSPECTION. IF HE HAS A BACKGROUND, LET'S SAY, AS AN ELECTRICIAN: HE MAY CONCENTRATE MOSTLY ON THE ELECTRICAL SYSTEM AND COME UP WITH SEVERAL ELECTRICAL VIOLATIONS. IF IT'S CLOSE TO LUNCH TIME, HE MAY JUST LOOK AROUND QUICKLY, SAY IT'S OK, AND BE GONE BEFORE YOU KNOW IT. IT'S A CRAP-SHOOT. HOWEVER, IF YOU CHECK AND CORRECT THE TEN ITEMS LISTED ABOVE BEFORE YOUR MUNICIPAL INSPECTION, YOU SHOULD DO JUST FINE AND GET YOUR CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY WITH LITTLE OR NO PROBLEM.


RAFFAELE PORZILLI
BEST HOME INSPECTIONS

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