Do I need a smoke detector in every room of my home when sellin?

  • September 21 2013 - Chino
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Answers (21)

Best Answer

And no, it is not the responsibility of sales agents to know the building and occupancy codes.  But the home inspector should be advising on these items when they note such deficiencies.

Actually, I totally disagree with that statement, Pasa.

If anything, in my area, just the opposite is true.

Home inspectors usually do not comment on smoke detectors or carbon monoxide detectors (or fire extinguishers, which are now state mandated)  as part of their inspections.
 
There are too many variations between town requirements, regarding the C of O,  so inspectors, who may cover a larger geographical area,  are not expected to know what each town requires, and they don't get involved in it.

The AGENT is supposed to be aware of what each town requirement is, along with the cost and procedure for getting the C of O,  so that they can prepare the seller for what to expect.
Every town has the instructions available on their website.

 I am visiting my seller tomorrow to go over just that. To show her where the detectors need to be and where the extinguisher needs to be mounted, too. NJ requires extinguishers to be mounted on the wall in or near the kitchen.

Some towns by me only inspect for those items.........some towns have more extensive lists of items they inspect (like looking for any open permits).........so it is part of MY job to know what town requires what so that I can advise and prepare the seller properly!

T
he appraisers don't get involved with this either.
All of those parties know there will be a C of O certificate provided at closing in order for the closing to take place..

I still don't understand, and it seems silly to me, that 2 agents, premier or otherwise,  would be asking this question of strangers when they must have a Broker who could clarify it for them for  their specific area.
  • September 23 2013
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Profile picture for blue screen exile
"I still don't understand, and it seems silly to me, that 2 agents, premier or otherwise,  would be asking this question of strangers when they must have a Broker who could clarify it for them for  their specific area." -

Well, I agree with that; and if the city or jurisdiction of authority has it on their website anyway, I can't imagine why they just wouldn't go to the website to get the info.  And if they don't have it on their website?  A phone call to the planning/permitting department is really not that difficult.  Or as someone else mentioned, for fire codes, one could also contact the local fire marshal.

And I certainly didn't mean to imply that an appraiser had anything to do with code enforcement... I merely stated that most mortgages won't fund if one cannot get a certificate of occupancy, or cannot get (or doesn't get) a home owner insurance policy (fire insurance).

As for "agent responsibility"?  No Sales Agent's (or their broker's) errors and omissions insurance ever paid out a claim when the agent gave out false information about applicable fire codes or building codes for the area.

Nor are such code questions on the state licensing tests.

Given how many thousands of posts I read on this forum by Realtors® that gave out false information, or broke the law (such as copyright infringement), I would rather trust the jurisdiction of authority than a Sales Agent that is attempting to interpret the code.
  • September 23 2013
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Profile picture for SoCal Engr
For clarification.... I did not really have an issue unril all the mis-informed responses began to be posted...even after a link was posted to the applicable guidance. It is one thing to ask when one does not know. Quite another to pass on misinformation that is so easy to verify/correct.
  • September 23 2013
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For new homes, the standard requires a smoke alarm in each bedroom, one outside the bedroom area that is close enough to be heard through closed doors, and a minimum of one on each level of the home. The objective of having a smoke alarm outside the bedroom area is to alert sleeping occupants of a fire that starts outside of the bedrooms. For this reason, if the bedrooms in a home are located in different areas, then each area should have its own smoke alarm. If a home is large, it is better to use more than one on each level. The closer the smoke alarm is to the fire source the faster it will work, so extra units give you more safety.

The requirements for existing homes are not as stringent. In existing homes, the NFPA only requires a smoke alarm outside the bedroom area and one on each level of the home. However, it also recommends that homeowners install additional smoke alarms, and we recommend that existing homes be equipped with at least the same number of smoke alarms that are required in new homes. It makes sense to install a smoke alarm in each bedroom. A good number of fires start in bedrooms, and the closer the smoke alarm is to the fire, the faster it will alert you.

  • September 23 2013
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Profile picture for blue screen exile
"why do you present your posts as if you're not experienced Premier Agents?" -

I much rather have an agent ask the questions if they don't know, rather than pretending they know and giving misleading information that could cost their client lots of money, or even the sale.

"Premier Agent" only means they pay at least $10 per month to Zillow for the advertising benefits.  The title has nothing to do with experience nor how long they have been in business.  Besides, those that sold homes 30 or more years ago remember when smoke detectors were not required for an occupancy permit, and those that sold 20 years ago remember when one battery operated detector in the hallway the bedrooms opened to was sufficient.  And those that sold 4 years ago remember when Carbon Monoxide detectors were not required, and not even readily available to most consumers.  And if there is no gas combustion and no connection to a garage nor house leaks at the driveway, where is the carbon monoxide going to come from in the first place?  Sometimes the "over-kill" codes just come from manufacturers that want to sell product.  Other times they come from insurance companies that want to reduce claim payouts.

And starting in January in California, all new residential houses will require that the roof be designed to support photo-voltaic panels, and that the electrical service and distribution system be designed to be wired to be able to quickly connect such photo-voltaics to power at least 30% of the house load, including over-sizing of busing.
  • September 22 2013
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Oh, I know, you're just disappointed in us, So_Cal. Pasa seems to think we're not on the hook. I'm wondering - Dan & Diana, why do you present your posts as if you're not experienced Premier Agents?
  • September 22 2013
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Profile picture for blue screen exile
Smoke Detectors installed that met the code when installed may be "grandfathered in" if no building changes are made.  This means existing may be battery only, and that either inside each bedroom or in the hallways adjacent to the bedrooms is sufficient, but not for "new construction", and not for homes that didn't require smoke detectors when last sold, but are now required for the occupancy permit.  However, for existing homes, it is not mandated to open ceiling spaces to provide A/C power to detectors; battery is sufficient for the installation unless accessible through attics or crawl spaces.  They also don't need to be interconnected if ceilings would have to be removed or opened to do so.

CO2 detectors must be added when the home is sold, per the code change 2 years ago.  For 4+ unit properties, they were required at the time of the code change in order to maintain the occupancy permit.  For single family homes, they require them when sold.

They don't have to be added by the seller; they can be added by the buyer instead; but they won't get the occupancy permit, nor most mortgage loans funded without them.  Not to mention they likely won't be able to get new Fire insurance policies without them.

Existing Fire insurance policies do not require retrofit to maintain the policy.

Best thing to do is check with the local building department that enforces the building codes and issues the occupancy permits.  No cost to call, nor to go in and talk it over in person.

If you are going to do a remodel, I would suggest contacting an Architect.  Even then, they miss code items that the plan-checkers are looking for.

And no, it is not the responsibility of sales agents to know the building and occupancy codes.  But the home inspector should be advising on these items when they note such deficiencies.
  • September 22 2013
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Profile picture for SoCal Engr
"That's why we have you - you're like OUR agent in this regard, getting po'd so we don't have to. Thank you!"

You're welcome Mack. However, I'm not po'd...I said I was depressed.
 
When I see this level of ineptitude on core/basics within my profession, from those I work with and am responsible for, then I'll expend the effort to get po'd.  :-)

As a consumer, it is just depressing that misinformation is being passed on, misinformation which could be easily corrected with a few keyboard strokes and mouse clicks.
  • September 22 2013
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- If I were a REA, I'd be po'd at all of you for making the profession look bad.

That's why we have you - you're like OUR agent in this regard, getting po'd so we don't have to. Thank you!
  • September 22 2013
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Profile picture for SoCal Engr
"Need is a strong word."

There are many strong words. At this point, on this thread, many strong words would seem applicable.

Before any other REAs post on this thread and further damage your individual and collective reputations...

#1 - The answer to this question was able to be retrieved in less-than-5-minutes using Google.
#2 - Even though answers and links-to-sources have been posted, REAs continue to post incorrect responses. Really?

Frankly, many of the responses on this thread demonstrate an unwillingness to expend the minimal effort required for even cursory research on the answer. As a consumer, that's depressing.

If I were a REA, I'd be po'd at all of you for making the profession look bad.
  • September 22 2013
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Need is a strong word.

First step - check local guidelines and statutes (a call to your local emergency services provider will be able to give you accurate information regarding this.)  Please, do not call 911.  Call the fire department's non-emergency line.

Second step - even if it's not required, it's a minimal investment and inconvenience and a great selling point to a family.  In all honesty, it's one of those things that can't hurt and will always help.
  • September 22 2013
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Profile picture for SoCal Engr
"You're agents - don't you know the answer?"

Apparently...not.

Worse yet is "which requires smoke detectors to be place outside each bedroom."

I checked. It doesn't. What it does require is...

"...and installed in accordance with the State Fire Marshal's regulations."

Which, I actually posted a link to at the beginning of this thread, and which calls out placement in each bedroom, as well as outside of bedrooms.

But, thank goodness and our-lucky-stars that we have RE professionals who stay on top of all of this for us, and who we can rely on for professional guidance when we enter into the RE market. I feel better already. <okay, "snark" off>

But, really, I'd expect people who make their living doing this stuff to know things like this cold...and be up-to-date on their information, too.
  • September 22 2013
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Regardless of the sellers "personal opinion" we must abide by California State law State Fire Marshall code,  (13113.8) which requires smoke detectors to be place outside each bedroom.

Sellers should check with the local Department of Building and Safety for any additional local requirements. Some areas require battery operated units while others require the units be hard wired into the electrical system.




  • September 22 2013
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Regardless of the sellers "personal opinion" the seller must abide by California State law State Fire Marshall code,  (13113.8) which requires smoke detectors to be place outside each bedroom.
Sellers should check with the local Department of Building and Safety for any additional local requirements. Some areas require battery operated units while others require the units be hard wired into the electrical system.
.

  • September 22 2013
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You're agents - don't you know the answer?
  • September 21 2013
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Profile picture for Ofe Polack

It really does not matter what the seller wants to do, it will catch up with him/her when the home inspection is done and then the appraiser walks the property.  Seller can contact the code department directly to obtain the  necessary information.

  • September 21 2013
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Profile picture for SoCal Engr
Colorado law requires a CO detector within 15' of bedrooms.

A quick check shows that, at least for Denver, the same placement requirements apply as for California (i.e., in each bedroom, outside bedrooms, etc.).

According to a FEMA document (yeah, trust FEMA as you will), there is no Colorado statute requiring smoke detectors in residential applications. But, most local municipalities overlay their own requirements.

"Colorado does not have a state law requiring smoke alarms in residential occupancies. However, the vast majority of local jurisdictions have adopted the International Code set, which requires residential occupancies to be equipped with smoke detectors. Colorado does have a state law requiring the installation of carbon monoxide detectors in all residential occupancies."
  • September 21 2013
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In Colorado, the law says within 10 feet of each bedroom. We usually change out the old smoke detector in the hall with a new ($50-) CO detector.
  • September 21 2013
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Profile picture for SoCal Engr

This is either (a) a non-issue, or (b) a PITA issue, depends on how you want to approach it.

The seller could easily slap in some inexpensive, battery-powered smoke/CO detectors. Screw them into the ceilings and "voila"...done.

However...

California regs require these to be interconnected and powered off building electrical (although battery backup is still desired in the event building electrical is down). The "interconnected" and "powered off..." is the PITA aspect, as it requires more than "screw it into the ceiling".

Either way, this seems to be a rather small issue (although I'd definitely get a quote from an electrician on "a proper installation").

  • September 21 2013
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 Just to confirm seller refusing to install in every room wants to
install hallway only. Thank you
  • September 21 2013
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Profile picture for SoCal Engr
California regs for smoke detectors (see R314.3 Location) require a smoke alarm in each bedroom, outside each bedroom (e.g. one in a hallway with bedrooms), and on each inhabitable level (i.e., a first floor without bedrooms).

There are other regs for the installation of CO detectors too, which you can find here.

Many systems currently sold support both functions, so installing a set of smoke/CO detectors in the required locations for smoke alarms should address both requirements.

Just curious...

Why are you asking? As a CA RE pro, figured you'd have this down cold.
  • September 21 2013
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