Houses constructed more than about 30 years ago, which is a majority of homes in the San Fernando Valley, and Simi Valley were largely built to whatever code seemed fancy in the moment. It wasn’t until 1997 that the International Code Council published the first edition of the International Building Code, which has been updated and reissued every three years since. Before that, many homes were built professionally, but when it came time to remodel anything there were zero standards to hold anyone to. Basically you can kind of think of your home as a time capsule of the most terrifying variety.

Or, you know, it might be totally straightforward. There’s literally no way to know until you get started. So, are you ready?

No matter how well you think you know your house you don’t until you uncover what lays underneath the floors, and between the walls, and learn what’s in your attic. you should make sure you’ve got a respirator that can filter both lead paint and asbestos, as well as gloves and work clothing that will protect you from anything before you even think about getting started.

If your taking out walls, or making a change to the structure, you should have a structural engineer review the project before you start, not after the wall is gone. Most cities require a permit for this type of work, and you are best to be prepared to pay the fees and costs to do it correctly. Inside the walls you may find hidden metal, pipes and wiring.  Behind your kitchen’s wet wall, there’s a maze of pipes that snake around to nowhere. Your bathroom has random metal plates just stuck in the wall under some tiles. And, this wire… it goes nowhere. It should go without saying that you should always use tools that have non-conductive handles when you’re working in walls and behind objects that you can’t see through.

Surprise mold and pests. Surprise! You have mold and termites! Wait, that’s a bad thing… hopefully you had a home inspection and a termite inspection that would have found this problem ahead of time, but if you’ve owned your house a few years, pests and mold certainly could have popped up over time. Termites will likely require professional treatment. Mold is a mixed bag. Some molds are very dangerous for people to breathe, but others are just kind of always in the environment. Either way you will need remediation.

Dry rot is a sign that moisture has either been there or is there, and the first part is to determine where the moisture is coming from, the second part of the fix is to repair the damage to the effected area, and structure. This can simple or complicated. That why contractors can not give you the perfect price, because they don’t have any idea what they’ll find when they open walls.

Also, know that when you take flooring off like carpet, you may find a problem with your floor’s leveling. Carpet is the great cover up for unlevel floors; Solid surfaces show everything. The cost to prepare the floor may be much more than was originally estimated.

As an appraiser, we review homes for health and safety reasons.. It is common to look for signs of water intrusion that are severe, peeling paint, roofs that look like they are ready to be removed.  Appraisers are always checking for smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.for almost any type of appraisal.   So, if you are contemplating remodeling and/or moving, having an appraiser give you a listing valuation can be an excellent choice, before you start to remove the carpet.  It may be in your best interest to move before you find out what is behind the wall. 

Building Codes, Remodeling, and Valuation