Building Code Issues and The Restoration Contractor

The restoration of a property is sometimes accomplished with relative smooth scheduling and production, but often times, “building code” issues can add substantial delays to a project. The most common scenario that comes to mind, is when there is a fire or a flood in a kitchen of a home, which requires that the entire kitchen be replaced. In either scenario, the electrical wiring in the kitchen will need to be brought up to the current code.


If the home was built 20, 30, or 40 years ago, the electrical upgrades could be substantial. Recently, we replaced a kitchen that had been damaged by a water loss in the home. The entire kitchen was removed, and it was found that not only the wiring in the kitchen, but the sub panel in the kitchen, the main panel, the subfeed from the meter to the panel, and the exterior weatherhead, all had to be replaced.

These changes required that an engineer draw up a plan, the plan required permitting, and the electrician made the required changes. All of this required the blessing of the adjuster. The issue delayed the project for about three months. The cost of the upgrades and changes exceeded the cost of the replacement kitchen, but that is why there is a provision in most homeowner policies, that covers the cost of upgrading the dwelling due to code requirements. Most policies allow for 10% of the dwelling coverage for code upgrades, but many have a 25% code upgrade provision. Keep in mind, however, that this figure does not add to the limits of the policy, it just means that the dollar amount of the requirement, up to the specified percentage, would be included in the loss. If your policy does not state a provision for “Code and Ordinance”, it does not mean that the policy does not include it. “Code and Ordinance” is a state requirement in Florida, whether written in the standard homeowner’s policy or not.

Although this particular project took far longer that the property owner was hoping for, the end product was a new, and modernized kitchen that would pass the scrutiny of a perspective home inspector or buyer in the future, with regards to the wiring.

It might be tempting to avoid all of this by not pulling permits, and reinstalling the substandard wiring, but as a Certified General Contractor, I would not take this route. If something were to happen at that property again in the future, this project could come back to us for not bringing this part of the home up to code, as well as for any damages that may have occurred.

In this particular case, the assigned adjuster was originally skeptical about the required upgrades, and challenged us every step of the way. When he finally realized that this was the required methodology, and that we were simply going to “do the right thing” he approved all of the additional work.

When hiring a company to do your property repairs, it is always best to be sure that they are licensed properly, and that the work being performed is permitted and upgraded as required by the building department. An agent for any properly licensed company should be able to provide you with proper documentation, including License Number, and insurance documents, for any work that they are proposing to do to your property.

Posted in Fire Damage, Insurance Claims, Mold Removal, Water Damage, Wind Damage
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