Gas water heater and home inspection

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I live in Gwinnett County, Georgia, in a townhouse that was built in 1998. I am selling the townhouse. The inspector noted that the gas water heater, which is located in a utility closet on the second floor, is not elevated 18 inches. The buyer want me to have this fixed.
Am I correct that when the house was built, the water heater was installed according to code (i.e. in 1998 the requirement to be 18 inches off the ground didn't exist)?
If so, I should not be responsible for this repair. Correct?
Any advice is welcome. I am supposed to close on Wednesday of next week (June 28).
Rebecca
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How old is the water heater and where is it located, that would help a bit more.
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Eigenvector wrote:

Um, just using reading comprehension, I'd say its about 8 years old and on the second floor of the townhouse.
The inspector should have known if that was a "grandfathered" condition and noted it. Only your city building department can answer that question now. It may be that there was a variance issued for the builder or your assumption is correct. Either way, talk to the local department. If its a prior condition, the buyer may give you a pass, or they may not; its really going to be the buyer's call.
--
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Grandpa wrote:

A buyer can't require a seller to bring an existing house up to the code requirements of what it would be if it were built today. If it met code when installed, then generally that is all that is required. A buyer can't force you to upgrade a house to every standard that exists today. For example, many homes are sold every day that don't have the electric service capacity or insulation that would be required if they were built today. Just because a home inspector says the house doesn't have the insulation that would be required today or the electic service capacity, doesn't mean the seller has to do upgrade it.
There are, however, some exceptions that are spelled out and applied to all homes when they are sold. The requirement for smoke detectors, for example. I'd call the code enforcement folks at town hall and ask them what's required re watere heaters.
And one thing I'm curious about. What is the reasoning behind the 18" off the floor requirement?
--

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In a garage or basement it would keep it above some heavier than air gasses. On the second floor, it makes no sense.
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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

Actually, the buyer can ask for anything they want, and if it gets into the purchase contract, then they can require it. That could include updating to code, if in the buyer's mind the item in question was never to code. Its now a question of wanting to close or not. The "code enforcement folks" as you say can either clarify the original code requirements or explain if a variance was allowed at time of construction. If the 18" requirement only apples in garages, then the seller can explain why they don't believe they have to "fix" it, but its still the buyers call - it could be a deal killer. Not likely, but it could.
Nonetheless, it sounds like the "inspector" didn't know how to deal with out of the ordinary situations, or he's using one of those "check off books" that don't require a lot of "smarts." You know: "Gas Water Heater 18" above floor? __Yes __No" with no allowance for actual location.
IME, most water heaters are located in the garage, where it makes sense for the gas burner to be 18" off the floor to keep it from igniting the gas leaking from your parked car (as if anyone has room to actually park a car in the garage), or your gas grill cylinder. The 18" requirement in garages has been around for a lot longer than 8 years when that home was built.
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Grandpa wrote:

Did the OP give any indication that the contract had anything requiring the house to be fully updated to current code, even if nothing in the municipal code requires it? Did you ever see such a thing in a home purchase contract? The seller would have to be a total moron to sign such a thing. Homes are sold ever day that don't have insulation that would be required today, or the electric service capacity required today.
Its now a question of wanting to close or not. The "code

A variance for a water heater that could just have a 18" stand placed under it?
If the 18" requirement only apples in garages, then the

> Nonetheless, it sounds like the "inspector" didn't know how to deal with

Out of the ordinary situations? It's not at all unusual for a water heater to be in part of the living space.

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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

The OP stated that the inspector griped about the water heater; if the purchase contract was pending the correction of the results of the inspection, then yes itcould be considered in the contract. You projected bringing everything up to code which is not what I'm trying to talk about. Just what the apparently novice inspector has wrought. But the fact is, if the buyer puts it in the contract and the seller accepts it, then yes the whole house could have to be brought up to code. Smart buyer, foolish seller syndrome.

Yes, this is apparently a townhome, lots of homes by one builder at a time, save on production costs, get a variance; happens all the time.

Apparently in this "inspector's" experience.

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Grandpa wrote:

I projected bringing everything up to code? This is what you posted:

And there you go posting the same thing again, as if once isn't enough and claiming you never said it. Have you ever seen a contract where the seller was required to rebuild the house to the code requirements of today, as opposed to when it was built?
> A variance for a water heater that could just have a 18" stand placed

BS First, most builiding inspectors aren't gonna waive code, just cause someone doesn't like it. Second, it wouldn't be worth the time and effort to avoid putting the freaking water heater on a simple stand.
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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

Yep I wrote that, which is what I wrote in response to your mentioning this first:

Okay, you win. I haven't seen the contract, I don't have a clue about what the specific performance of the purchase contract is, what the specific code requirements are for the area, or what (or if) the contingency clause is regarding the inspector's findings, nor do I even know if she had a lawyer look at her contract before signing (evidently not since she's asking here); apparently if the OP wants to close this Wednesday, she'll have to fix it or waive it or appeal that it doesn't have to be fixed. That's the options on the specific case as I see it. Her only point of authority for appealing is the local building inspection agency.
The generic point is, whatever the buyer puts in the contract is part of the performance of the contract if the seller accepts it. If the buyer wants something (not necessarily the whole house) brought up to code before closing, and the the seller accepts the contract, then the seller has to "perform" or waive it (usually with monetary consideration). While I've yet to see a "whole house to current code" clause, I have seen specific items requested to be brought up to code as part of the sale. Sometimes the seller accepts, sometimes they turn down the offer.

Jeez, I thought I was agreeing with you that the buyer would have to be an idiot to accept such a contract. What part of the "if" did you miss? The buyer *can* ask for "anything," *if* the seller accepts the contract, its up to the seller to "perform." I once bought a house and had the seller pay all *my* closing costs and erect a new fence by putting it in the contract which he accepted. So I know things like that can be done. Yeah, he didn't like me much on closing day.

Did I say the building inspector waived code? Its not that hard to get a variance which the building inspector then signs off on. The variance just "legalizes" the issue. The local building authority would have a record of such a variance if it existed. Its something to check.
I've seen stranger things scrimped to save a few bucks in tract housing.
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Eigenvector wrote:

Carnac the Magnificent says it's eight years old, in an upstairs utility closet of a townhouse in Gwinnett County, GA.
Rob
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...and I assume you found this information in a hermetically sealed mayonnaise jar located on your back porch! (Thanks, Johnny Carson)
MaryL
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I don't have any knowledge of construction, but I can tell you about my experience as a consumer when I bought my house. I live in Texas, and codes in my town also require gas hot water heaters to be elevated a minimum of 18 inches. In my case, the hot water heater is in a storage room connected to the garage. I hired a house inspecter before buying the house, and this was one of the defects he noted. I made the correction, not the seller. On the other hand, I would not let that interfere with buying a home because the cost was *minimal.* The HWH is placed on concrete blocks set upright. They are exactly 18 inches.
MaryL
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The HWH is placed on concrete blocks set upright. They

Concrete blocks are a nominal 16 inches, and to allow for the mortar joint, they are actually built 15 5/8 inches in length.
-- Dennis
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You made me curious, so I just checked...and you're right. So, my HWH is sitting on four upright concrete blocks, and I now know it is *almost* 18" (despite what the plumber told me).
MaryL
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DT wrote:

Just call your local building inspector for your town and ask. I think it just applies to garages.
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Others will correct me if I am wrong.
The 18" off the floor requirement is for gas water heaters located in garages. I have never heard of it applying to water heaters inside the home.
IMO the inspector was not the sharpest knife in the drawer.
If this is the initial heater and code was met when built you should not be required to update it at this time either way.
Colbyt
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I had to put my 2 cents in. Are you sure it isn't the overflow pipe (or whatever the proper name is) that has to be 18 inches off the floor?
I just throw the ideas out, take them if you can use them
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snipped-for-privacy@bellsouth.net wrote:

Well if the buyer makes an offer contingent on the change and you want to accept the offer, then you make the change. If you don't want to make the change no sale.
As to any requirement that it be changed before any sale, I would suggest a local attorney.
--
Joseph Meehan

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i would be more concerned its in a drain pan so when it leaks it doesnt flood your home.
i do believe 18 inches is a GAS water heater issue in garages, this home inspector needs to go back to school.
You might ask this at that national; home inspectors site, they are friendly
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