Q. Our house was built in 1970. We are about to put it on the market, but one of our bedrooms has no closet. According to our Realtor, a room without a closet cannot be advertised as a bedroom. Listing our house as a three-bedroom, rather than a four-bedroom, makes a big difference in the asking price. We could convert part of the room to a closet, but that would make the bedroom very small. Our other concern, also pointed out by our Realtor, is that the bedroom windowsill is 48 inches high, rather than 44 inches high. She says this is a fire escape hazard and should be corrected. Selling our home is becoming more complicated than we expected. What do you recommend?
A. Realtors are sometimes misinformed about building code issues, and this is a case in point. It is commonly believed by many real estate professionals that a closet is required in a bedroom. There is definitely no such requirement, and you should advise your agent accordingly. The building code does not mandate a bedroom closet because an armoire can be used for storing clothes. If your agent needs assurance, have her contact the local building department. If they say a closet is required, insist that they open the code book and show the chapter and verse.
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Your Realtor is correct about the 44-inch maximum height requirement for bedroom windowsills. However, this is the code for homes built after 1975. If your home was built in 1970, the 48-inch windowsill in the bedroom is grandfathered and does not require upgrade to current codes or fire safety standards.
Q. I'm getting ready to sell my home, so I had a pre-listing home inspection. But now it appears the inspector damaged my toilet by rocking the bowl. I never had leaking at the base of the toilet, but I do now. I suppose I have to bear the plumber's expense as I have no way of proving the inspector excessively rocked the toilet. It was rock-solid before -- no movement at all. What do you recommend?
A. It is hard to make a definite judgment in this situation. Often, a toilet is loose without anyone noticing it because sideways pressure is seldom applied to the fixture. If the home inspector was the first one to push against the side of the toilet, the resultant movement could have started a leak at the seal. There's no way to prove the toilet was loose or tight before it was inspected, so the home inspector may or may not have caused the problem.
Fortunately, this is not an expensive repair. If you know anyone who is handy, it is fairly easy to install a new wax seal and refasten the fixture to the floor. If you make a big enough fuss, you might get the home inspector to fix it, but that depends on the personality of the inspector.
• 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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