Abandoned 4 plex renovation - Bring it up to code?

6 Replies


I bought an abandoned quad, when I went to city for applying for renovation permit, they told me to bring it upto code like ( fire wall, fire sprinkler, replace wall panels with drywall...etc).

Based on the location and size of the building the renovation is going to cost a way more than what it can sell for or the rents it gets.

Is there any exemption i can request the city, to grandfather the building with minimal code.

I appreciate any valuable suggestion.



Hi there, @Thripura Vemireddy !  This is a "sticky wicket" in terms of the permitting system in lovely country -- darned if you do and darned if you don't.  

In my market I've heard of this same issue with some of the historic 4plexes, which is crazy because the city is forcing them to be brought up to COMMERCIAL code, even though it is a residential (1-4 unit) property.  

Nevertheless the dilemma remains . . . is there a way to NOT bring it up to code?  That depends on the state of the property right now.  If the property is basically okay, but needs cosmetic repairs then you'll find many reputable contracts who will do the work.  When you get into running new services, or re-running old and obsolete services (like plumbing, electrical, and HVAC) then you get into the situation where technically ALL of those trades should be getting permits for the work.  

You'll find contractors to do any scope of work you can imagine without a permit, but the risk in the situation is that you (as the owner) will always be liable for the work.  Even if you sell it next month to someone who sells it to someone who sells it to someone else, you'll still technically be on the hook for doing work without the required permits.

I'd say do what you need to do to ethically get out of the situation unscathed, and then work this into your due diligence process before the next purchase.  We had a similar issue in a flip early on and it changed our processes for the better.

Blessings brother!

Once the city finds out about a code violation you are pretty much done for in my experience. I would say your best bet is to do the renovations, hold it to recoup some of the cash and sell as it appreciates in value. I cannot say there is a perfect solution here, but city rules are tough to sneak by. 

Sorry to hear about this @Thripura Vemireddy ! Sorry to say but their aren't any exemptions you can make. You will have to bring the property up to today's code. It's unfortunate. The only way you can get away with this is not pull permits and hopefully fly under the radar. BUT ... if you get caught there are some serious consequences, I'm sure you don't want to face. You may just have to put the money into it and weather the storm or sell it now and get out.

@Thripura Vemireddy  Yes, you'll have to bring it up to code.  The only exemption might be if it destroys the historic integrity of the building, but I doubt we're talking about a building which would qualify.  

You *might* be able to get some grant money/low interest loans, etc.  if you're willing to designate the building as "affordable".  Contact Invest Atlanta, bring your plans, budgets, etc. and see what, if anything, they can do for you.  

@Thripura Vemireddy

Everything you mentioned that you need to do is cheap, and you will need to do something similar anyways during a rehab. For example instead of regular drywall you'll pay an extra few dollars per sheet for fire rated drywall, and only on certain walls. No big deal.

The only expensive item you have is the sprinkler system, and you can go through the appeals process with your local building department to try to waive that requirement. You may have to do something else to appease them such as more fire rated walls, maybe fire rated doors, etc. 

If you need more information or advice for the appeals process just message me.

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