Will Your Township’s U&O Derail the Sale of Your Home?

Lisa Loper, member of the Scott Loper Team at RE/MAX Realty Group in Harleysville, informs potential sellers about the pitfalls of the Use and Occupancy inspections required by some municipalities in the Montgomeryville-Lansdale area.

U&O stands for Use and Occupancy.  Some municipalities may call it a Resale Inspection or use another term, but it's essentially an inspection required by some boroughs and townships in our area when an existing property is being sold. 

In the North Penn School District, the following municipalities require a U&O:  Towamencin Township, Hatfield Township, Hatfield Borough and North Wales Borough. The others do not. The items these specific municipalities look for can and will vary widely.

Many of these boroughs and townships look for safety and code violations.  Typical items may include:

  • GFCI protected outlets in the kitchen, bathrooms, garages, basement, and exterior outlets
  • Handrails when there are three or more steps
  • Working smoke detectors on each level of the house (Sometimes, they will have to operate in conjunction with each other or be in each bedroom.)
  • Ensuring storm water does not discharge into the public sewer system
  • Ensuring household waste water does not discharge into the yard or storm sewer
  • Steel doors for fire protection between an attached garage and the house

More stringent U&O inspections may also require:

  • Egress from finished basements
  • Sidewalks and curbs to be repaired or replaced
  • Chimney certifications
  • Sewer vent lines to be installed
  • Audible alarms when household doors open directly to a pool area
  • Locking bedroom doors
  • Anything the inspector feels violates building and safety codes

Most boroughs and townships that require U&O inspections for residential resales are fairly consistent with the types of issues they look for. However, there are a few authorities that have been rather inconsistent with their inspection process.

The problem we see with the inconsistent ones is that the rules keep changing and what one seller had to do one year, another seller doesn’t have to do another year.

For example, the U&O for re-sales in Towamencin Township since Jan. 1, 2010, requires a Master plumber certification and a sidewalk/curb inspection. Any cracked sidewalks or deteriorated curbs are required to be replaced. 

Additionally, blacktop sidewalks and driveway aprons are unacceptable, and the township has recently required homeowners to rip out the blacktop and install new concrete walkways and aprons to complete the sale of their homes. Some sellers have spent thousands of dollars on this requirement alone. 

However, homes sold prior to 2010 did not have to meet this requirement; those sellers had to get chimney certifications and install GFCI outlets, egress from finished basement, handrails, etc. Now, none of those previously required items are part of Towamencin’s current resale inspection.

If you are considering the sale of a property, we highly recommend that you determine whether your municipality requires a U&O inspection for resales and, if so, identify what items are inspected. A good resource for this information can be found at www.suburbanrealtorsalliance.com.

For more information on this topic or if you want to know how your municipality has handled U&O inspections, contact Lisa Loper at 215-256-1200 ext. 212 or visit www.scottloperteam.com.

Raymond A Hopkins March 23, 2011 at 05:04 PM
Let me guess, these all have fees and permit costs associated with them also, right. Pretty soon it will be cheaper to start burining homes to the ground rather than sell them.
Lisa Loper March 23, 2011 at 05:41 PM
Raymond, Yes, the U&O inspections typically run between $70 and $100. Any kind of certification (such as chimney, hvac, Master plumber) will also run another $70 -$150 depending upon who the seller uses for the work. Some work that may be required (such as sidewalk replacement) will then have associated permit fees. Lisa


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