When you buy a home, you want to have some reassurance that: 1. it won’t collapse around you, 2. any construction or repairs were performed in a way that meets requirements and 3. the building is safe to live in. A certificate of occupancy (usually issued after a building has passed inspections) gives you some peace of mind that the house you’re buying is sturdy and meets building codes. In many cases, you need the certificate of occupancy not only to move into the home, but also to qualify for a mortgage.
How It Works If You’re Buying a New Home
The specific rules and requirements for a certificate of occupancy vary from county to county or state to state. Many counties in Georgia require a certificate for all new homes, and outline a process for the property to obtain that certificate. Let’s say you’re considering buying a new home in Fulton County, GA. Before you can begin to put furniture in the house, it needs to pass a series of inspections and be issued a certificate. The county requires inspections of the building itself, the electrical work, the plumbing and the mechanical work to make sure those areas are up to code.
The certificate is issued by the Building Official of the county. It will state how many people can be on each floor of the building, how it can be used, and the amount of weight each floor can handle. The builder of the property gets the certificate first, then passes it on to you after your close on the property.
How It Works If You’re Buying an Older Home
Some counties, such as Gwinnett County, also require a certificate of occupancy any time the use of a building changes or whenever a building changes owners. If you are considering purchasing an older home or are moving into a house that was once an industrial space, the requirement assures you that any permits needed for alterations to the building were issued and that the building has passed inspections.
If you are considering purchasing a renovated home in Atlanta, GA, you’ll also need a certificate of occupancy. The city requires a certificate whenever alterations are made to an existing home. The certificate is only given after the construction is completed and the house has passed all the required inspections.
In 2016, Atlanta passed an ordinance that requires builders of multi-family properties who use public funds to build their homes to make at least fifteen percent of units in those buildings affordable. Builders who don’t follow the rules won’t be issued certificates of occupancy, meaning that no one can move into the units until the building company changes policies and makes more units affordable.
A certificate of occupancy lets you know that your new home is safe and ready for you to live in. It also lets you know that the company that built the property complied with all the rules put forth by your city or country.