As a first time homebuyer, it’s up to you to decide whether to buy an existing home or new construction. If you decide to go the new-construction route, there are a few things you need to think about beyond prequalifying for your mortgage and finding the right size and style of house. New construction in Atlanta, Georgia, and the surrounding area needs to receive a certificate of occupancy before you can move in. The certificate gives you the peace of mind that the home meets all the requirements of the building code in Georgia.
What’s on the certificate
The rules for getting a certificate of occupancy and what’s on the certificate vary from state to state and even from county to county. In Fulton County, Georgia, the certificate will state how the building is able to be used, for example as a single family residence, a multifamily residence or a business. The certificate can also list how many people are allowed to be on each floor of the building at one time or the weight each floor can hold.
Getting the certificate
Because the goal of the certificate of occupancy is proving that the building lives up to codes and ordinances, the process of getting one is very involved. In Fulton County, for example, the building needs to pass a number of inspections. The inspections take place in a specific order, and they start before construction even begins.
The first inspection focuses on erosion control and giving the right of way during the construction process. The second inspection involves displaying the building permit before construction starts. Other inspections required during the construction process include a series of plumbing, electrical and mechanical inspections.
If the contractor doesn’t request each inspection in the proper order, the county will turn down the request, which can delay the process of building the home and of getting the certificate. After the property has passed each inspection, including a final site inspection, the county will give the owner the certificate. It can take a few weeks for the owner to get a copy of the actual certificate, so you’ll need to schedule your closing date accordingly.
Reviewing the certificate
You need to have the certificate of occupancy on hand before you close on the home and before you move in. Review the certificate to make sure everything is in order before moving ahead with the purchase.
Keep in mind that getting the certificate of occupancy isn’t the same has having a home inspection done. The certificate simply lets you know that the property and building are up to code. A home inspection, performed by an independent inspector, will let you know if the workmanship on the home is up-to-snuff, or not. If an inspection reveals that the quality isn’t there, it’s up to you to negotiate with the builder or subcontractor find a reasonable solution before you finalize the sale.
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