Newbie- considering buying 2 unit home with code violations

5 Replies

Hi all, two questions: is an old 2 unit house required to have 2 doors (or 2 egress options) and how much might I owe to fix it?

This is the first rental I'm seriously considering- it's on the west side, 2 units with an attic space. It was built in 1901 and the strange thing is it only has one door to enter the house and it's in the back with indoor stairs to each unit and no fire escapes- is this a huge violation I'd be responsible for if I buy?
Current owner is an older gentleman who's had it for 10 years and seems eager to sell, uninterested or unable to drop the money to fix it up.

I've searched everything, including the city building and fire codes but haven't found a straight forward answer (I really am a newbie). I'm wonder how the house has been sold over and over without that being flagged if it really is an issue. I thought there were certain exceptions for really old houses.
Is this something I could ask an alderman about? It seems simple enough to get a yes or no answer about.

If the two exits are required, I'm wondering if a fire escape can be built in the front windows since there's nothing there.

Before I make a decision and go chasing quotes from 50 companies, I'm wondering if anyone here has an estimated cost they'd be willing to share based on similar experiences?

Thank you so much in advance if you read this far!

Updated about 1 year ago

*Note: this is a house on the west side of Chicago.

There are millions of apartments and condos that have only one door. So, I don't see where having one door is a problem, but you still need to confirm with your local building department. When I lived in Massachusetts we had apartments with two doors and we still had fire escape stairways where we could exit through a window if there was a fire. Every city has their own special building codes.

@Leah C. The Uniform Building Code, or the UBC used to be the code all cities in the USA adhered to. Now it is called the IBC, or International Building Code. Every city does not have its own Building Code. Every city has its own Municipal Code that is unique to each city. Contact the City’s Building Department and ask to speak to a Building Inspector. He/she will give you a straight answer.

It's grandfathered in if built before the code changed to require 2 doors very common in Chicago. If someone illegally remodeled it and got rid of a door is where you will face violations.

Originally posted by @Henry Lazerow :

It's grandfathered in if built before the code changed to require 2 doors very common in Chicago. If someone illegally remodeled it and got rid of a door is where you will face violations.

Thank you! It's well over 100 years old. I'm fairly certain it was just built this way, so I'm going to search for old permits, blueprints, and anything I can find to learn more. 

 

Originally posted by @Matt Everling :

@Leah C. The Uniform Building Code, or the UBC used to be the code all cities in the USA adhered to. Now it is called the IBC, or International Building Code. Every city does not have its own Building Code. Every city has its own Municipal Code that is unique to each city. Contact the City’s Building Department and ask to speak to a Building Inspector. He/she will give you a straight answer.

Thank you for this information! That will be my next move.