§ 160.53  MINIMUM STANDARDS OF FITNESS; MINOR VIOLATIONS.
   (A)   Without excluding other ways and means of determining that a dwelling is unfit for human habitation, the inspector shall apply the minimum standards of fitness set forth in this code in determining whether a dwelling is unfit and/or unsafe.
      (1)   General requirements.
         (a)   Foundation. The building foundation system shall be maintained in a safe manner and capable of supporting the load which normal use may cause to be placed thereon. Beneath the dwelling, there must be firm, reasonably dry ground ("reasonably dry" means no mud, standing water, running water or evidence of same). Every foundation wall, exterior wall and exterior roof shall be substantially weather tight and rodent-proof and shall be kept in sound condition and good repair. Mobile homes shall be set up and secured as required by the state building code's regulations for manufactured/mobile homes.
         (b)   Exterior walls.
            1.   Every exterior wall shall be reasonably weather tight, (free of holes, breaks, loose or rotting boards or timbers, and any other conditions which might admit rain, dampness, vermin or air to the wall cavity or to the occupied spaces of the building). Every exterior wall shall be protected with paint or other protective covering to prevent the entrance or penetration of moisture or the weather. All siding material shall be kept in repair. "Kept in repair" includes maintenance of painted surface areas where the protective paint surface no longer protects the wood or other organic building materials from weather damage, repair of cracks or holes exceeding one-quarter-inch in width and replacement of wood or other organic components that show visual signs of rot, or are soft to the touch or otherwise show evidence of rotting.
            2.   Existing skirting shall be maintained free from broken or missing sections, pieces or cross members which compromise the insulation characteristics of the skirting. Skirting shall be securely attached and sized from the ground to the lower outside perimeter of the structure. If skirting is not provided, or if existing skirting is removed, water lines and drain lines shall be insulated to prevent freezing.
            3.   Replacement or new skirting shall be constructed of materials intended for exterior use and properly sized and mounted to prevent free access to the crawl space of the dwelling. Adequate means to gain access to the dwelling crawl space, via inside or outside, shall be furnished. Adequate means to gain access to heating or other mechanical equipment, via inside or outside, shall be furnished.
         (c)   Roofs. Roofs shall be structurally sound and maintained in a safe manner and have no defects which might admit rain or cause dampness in the walls or interior portion of the dwelling. The following may constitute evidence of defects:
            1.   Missing shingles;
            2.   Flashing(s) missing;
            3.   Roof deflection deeper than one-sixth of the depth of the rafter and/or rafters cracked;
            4.   Damage to ceilings (ceiling plaster loose or falling, brown spots, etc.), sheet rock hanging, etc. in rooms below roof;
            5.   Fire damage;
            6.   No more than three layers of roofing materials (shingles, shakes, roofing) shall be permitted without certification by an architect or engineer registered in North Carolina that the roof will safely support all required live and dead loads pursuant to requirements of the North Carolina State Building Code.
         (d)   Attics. All attics shall be adequately ventilated per Volume VII Section 806 of the North Carolina State Building Code.
         (e)   Insulation. Insulation rated at least R-ll (or minimum thickness of four inches) and consisting of rock wool (glass), fiberglass or other material exhibiting fire resistance and insulation capacities equal to (or greater than) rock wool or fiberglass shall be required in the accessible ceiling or attic of the highest story containing habitable rooms in all dwellings.
         (f)   Means of egress.
            1.   Every dwelling unit shall be provided with adequate means of egress as required by the state building code.
            2.   In multi-family houses having two or more dwelling units above the first story, every dwelling unit above the first story shall have access to at least two exit ways. One common exit is permitted provided that all of the following conditions are met:
               A.   Maximum distance of travel to reach the exit or stairs from the entrance door to any dwelling unit shall not exceed 30 feet.
               B.   Maximum number of dwelling units served by the exit shall not exceed four per floor.
               C.   Maximum gross area of the dwelling units shall not exceed 3,500 square feet per floor.
               D.   Maximum building height shall be one story above the level of exit discharge.
            3.   Security bars. When security bars exist, one grill in each room used for sleeping should be equipped with a release device designed for emergency escape. Occupancies below grade, windows fitted with security grills intended for emergency escape should have a vertical measurement of no more than 44 inches from the sill or any fixed portion of the grill to the finished floor. Exception: If a room used for sleeping has a door leading directly to the outside of the building at or to grade level.
         (g)   Stairs, porches and appurtenances.
            1.   Every inside and outside stair, porch and any appurtenance thereto shall be safe to use and capable of supporting the load that normal use may cause to be placed thereon and shall be kept in sound condition and good repair. Stairs and steps shall be free of holes, grooves and/or cracks large enough to constitute accident hazards. Risers shall be reasonably uniform in height. Stair coverings shall be securely mounted and shall not interfere with safe use of the stairs.
            2.   A minimum of three feet by three feet landing shall be required on each side of an egress door provided the door swings out over the stairs. The floor or landing shall not be more than one-and-a-half inches lower than the top of the threshold.
         (h)   Protective railings. Every porch, terrace or entrance platform 30 inches or more in height, above adjacent finish grade shall be equipped with railings or guards not less than 36 inches high. Handrails, continuous on all open sides of stairs exceeding four risers, leading to a platform, porch or terrace, shall be installed at least 30 inches high. Interior stairs exceeding four risers, open on both sides, including basement stairs, shall have a continuous handrail and railing on one side and railing on open portion of other side. Stairs open on one side exceeding four risers shall have a continuous handrail and railing on the open side. Stairs exceeding four risers, enclosed on both sides, shall have a minimum of one continuous handrail. When exterior stairwell step flight has total rise of 30 inches or more, a continuous, durable handrail must be maintained. Handrails or protective railings shall be capable of bearing normally-imposed loads and be maintained in good and safe condition. Adjacent horizontal or vertical rails or rail members shall be spaced no more than six inches apart for protection of children when such protective railing is along a platform or stair 30 inches or more in height above finished grade.
         (i)   Windows and window assemblies.
            1.   Each window shall be weather tight, watertight and rodent-proof, and shall be kept in sound working condition and good repair. If daylight can be seen around the inside or outside perimeter of the window casing, that window does not meet this standard. Every operable window shall be equipped with an effective locking mechanism or other mechanism that functions as a lock.
            2.   Each window sash shall be fully supplied with glass window panes or an approved substitute which are without open cracks or holes. Wood, cardboard or polyethylene or other plastic film are not approved substitutes. A window pane with a crack or hole must be replaced or the crack or hole sealed with clear silicone seal. A broken window (pieces missing or exposed glass edge) must be replaced.
            3.   Each window sash shall be properly fitted and weather tight within the window frame. If daylight can be seen around the inside or outside perimeter of the window sash, that window does not meet this standard.
            4.   Each window required for ventilation for habitable rooms shall be capable of being easily opened or closed and secured in position by window hardware.
            5.   Security bars. When security bars exist one grill in each room used for sleeping should be equipped with a release device designed for emergency escape. Occupancies below grade, windows fitted with security grills intended for emergency escape should have a vertical measurement of no more than 44 inches from the sill or any fixed portion of the grill to the finished floor. Exception: If a room used for sleeping has a door leading directly to the outside of the building at or to grade level.
         (j)   Interior floors, walls and ceilings. Every floor, interior wall and ceiling shall be substantially vermin-proof, shall be kept in sound condition and good repair and shall be safe to use and capable of supporting the load which normal use may cause to be placed thereon. Interior finish shall be free of excessive holes and cracks. No cardboard or other highly combustible or improper wall finish or ceiling finish shall be allowed. No rotted, fire-damaged, or loose flooring shall be allowed. All floors shall be level enough so as not to present a tripping hazard. Every bathroom floor surface and kitchen floor surface shall be constructed and maintained so as to be reasonably impervious to water and so as to permit such floor to be readily kept in a clean and sanitary condition.
         (k)   Structural supports. Every structural element of the dwelling shall be maintained in a structurally sound condition and show no evidence of deterioration which would render it incapable of carrying normal loads. Termites, termite damage, fire damage, absence of footings or cracked or split wood structural supports are examples of evidence of deterioration. When additional direct support is required, piers shall be used under girders, at walls or other primary support points. Stiff knees shall not be used under girders, at walls or at other primary support points, but may be used for indirect support only.
         (l)   Interior door hardware. Every interior door shall be provided with proper hardware, securely attached and maintained in good condition. Hasp lock assemblies are not permitted on any side of the door of habitable rooms.
         (m)   Bathroom access. Bathroom access shall be provided in a manner that does not require an occupant to leave the dwelling to gain access. Privacy of bathrooms shall be afforded by doors complete with privacy hardware intended by the manufacturer for that purpose.
         (n)   Water closet, lavatory and bath facilities for boarding houses. At least one flush water closet, lavatory basin, and bathtub or shower, properly connected to a water and sewer system and in good working condition, shall be supplied for each four rooms within a rooming house wherever such facilities are shared. All such facilities shall be located on the floor they serve within the dwelling so as to be private and reasonably accessible from a common hall or passageway to all persons sharing such facilities.
         (o)   Exterior doors.
            1.   Every exterior door, basement or cellar door and hatchway shall be substantially weather tight, watertight, and rodent-proof, and shall be kept in sound working conditions and good repair. "Good repair" includes no delamination or splitting of wood doors.
            2.   Every exterior door to a dwelling shall be provided with properly-installed hardware that is maintained to insure reasonable ease of operation to open, close or secure in an open or closed position, as intended by the manufacturer of the door and the attached hardware. Properly installed hardware shall consist of knob, bib and operating lock with sufficient strength to prevent unauthorized entry in all situations short of disassembly, force or use of a key or pick. All exterior doors shall be capable of being locked from the inside and outside in a manner that will provide for the safety and security of the occupant(s).
         (p)   Exterior door frames.
            1.   Exterior door frames shall be properly maintained and shall be equipped with weather stripping and thresholds as required to be substantially weather tight, watertight, and rodent and insect restrictive when the door is in a closed position. If daylight can be seen from inside around the inner perimeter of an exterior door frame, that door frame does not meet this standard.
            2.   Exterior door jambs, stops, headers and moldings shall be securely attached to the dwelling, maintained in good condition without splitting or deterioration that would minimize the strength and security of the door in a closed position. If daylight can be seen from inside around the outer perimeter of an exterior door frame, that door frame does not meet this standard.
         (q)   Protective treatment. All exterior wood surfaces (other than decay-resistant woods, such as cedar, redwood, cypress or pressure-treated lumber) shall be protected from the elements and decay by painting or other protective covering or treatment. Minimal chipping or peeling of surfaces not directly exposed to the elements and not reasonably expected to contribute to decay of wood surfaces is not required to be treated. All siding shall be weather-resistant and watertight. All masonry joints shall be sufficiently tuck pointed to insure water and air tightness. "Sufficiently tuck pointed" means that mortar shall not be removable by finger pressure.
         (r)   Outbuildings. Garages, storage buildings and all other accessory structures shall be structurally sound. When the condition of plumbing, heating, structural or electrical facilities present an imminent danger to occupants, or to the public, if such outbuilding is accessible to the public, those facilities shall be made safe in a manner consistent with this code.
         (s)   Use of other areas for living purposes. No cellar shall be used for living purposes. No basement shall be used for living purposes unless:
            1.   The floor and walls are substantially watertight.
            2.   The total window area, total openable window area and ceiling height are equal to those required for habitable rooms.
            3.   The required minimum window area of every habitable room is entirely above the grade adjoining such window area, except where the windows face a stairwell, window well or accessway.
      (2)   Light, ventilation and space limitations.
         (a)   Calculation of floor area. For purposes of this subchapter, floor area shall be calculated on the basis of habitable room area. However, closet area and wall area within the dwelling unit may count for not more than 10% of the required habitable floor area. The floor area of any part of any room where the ceiling height is less than four-and-a-half feet shall not be considered as part of the floor area in computing the total area of the room to determine maximum permissible occupancy.
         (b)   Room sizes.
            1.   Every dwelling unit shall contain at least the minimum room size in each habitable room as required by the state residential building code.
            2.   Every dwelling unit shall contain at least 150 square feet of habitable floor area for the first occupant, at least 100 square feet of additional habitable area for each of the next three occupants and at least 75 square feet of additional habitable floor area for each additional occupant.
            3.   In every dwelling unit and in every rooming unit, every room occupied for sleeping purposes by one occupant shall contain at least 70 square feet of floor area, and every room occupied for sleeping purposes by more than one occupant shall contain at least 50 square feet of floor area for each occupant 12 years of age and over and at least 35 square feet of floor area for each occupant under 12 years of age.
         (c)   Ceiling height. At least one-half of the floor area of every habitable room shall have a ceiling height of not less than seven feet six inches.
         (d)   Windows. Every window, exterior door, basement or cellar door and hatchway shall be substantially weather tight, watertight and rodent-proof, and shall be kept in sound working condition and good repair. Every habitable room shall have at least one window or skylight facing directly to the outdoors. The minimum total window area, measured between stops, for every habitable room shall be 10% of the floor area of such room. Whenever walls or other portions of structures face window of any such room and such light-obstruction structures are located less than five feet from the window and extend to a level above that of the ceiling of the room, such a window shall not be deemed to face directly to the outdoors and shall not be included as contributing to the required minimum total window area. Whenever the only window in a room is a skylight-type window in the top of such room, the total window area of such skylight shall equal at least 15% of the total floor area of such room.
         (e)   Screens. In order to provide for safe ventilation and provide for the safety of children, dwelling units which do not have central air conditioning systems shall have fitted screens in good repair for all operable windows in rooms where the floor level is eight or more feet above finished grade. Windows in rooms used for sleeping purposes must have screens. One window or skylight facing directly outdoors must be provided in all habitable rooms and must have a screen. "Good repair" means screens providing a continuous barrier to insects.
         (f)   Ventilation.
            1.   Every habitable room (except kitchens with exhaust fans in good working order) shall have at least one window or skylight which can be easily opened. The total of openable window area in every habitable room shall be equal to at least 45% of the minimum window area size or minimum skylight-type window size, as required, or shall have other approved, equivalent ventilation.
            2.   Year-round mechanically ventilating conditioned air systems may be substituted for windows, as required herein, in rooms other than rooms used for sleeping purposes. Window-type air conditioning units are not included in this exception.
         (g)   Bathrooms. Every bathroom with tub and/or shower shall comply with light and ventilation requirements herein, for habitable rooms except that no window or skylight shall be required in adequately ventilated bathrooms equipped with an operable ceiling electrical exhaust fan.
      (3)   Plumbing facilities and fixture requirements.
         (a)   Sanitary. Every dwelling shall contain not less than a kitchen sink, lavatory, tub or shower, and a water closet all in good working condition and properly connected to an approved water and sewer system. Every plumbing fixture and water and waste pipe shall be properly installed and maintained in good sanitary working condition free from defects, leaks, and obstruction. "Properly connected" means connected with approved plumbing materials (no radiator hose, duct tape, etc.). "Properly installed" means continuous piping that met the North Carolina State Building Code in effect at the time of installation. Any new, additional or repair plumbing must meet the current requirements of the North Carolina Building Code. Provided, however, that the kitchen sink standards enumerated herein shall not apply to hotels, motels and other transient places unless kitchen sinks are otherwise required.
         (b)   Location of sanitary facilities. All required plumbing fixtures shall be located within the dwelling and be accessible to the occupants of same. The water closet, tub or shower and lavatory shall be located in a room (or adjoining rooms) affording privacy to the user. Required bathrooms shall be accessible from habitable rooms, hallways, corridors or other protected or enclosed areas.
         (c)   Hot and cold water supply. Every dwelling shall have connected to the kitchen sink, lavatory, and tub or shower an adequate supply of both cold and hot water. All water shall be supplied through an approved distribution system connected to a potable water supply.
      (4)   Mechanical and electrical requirements.
         (a)   Electric service. Adequate electric service must be provided to the dwelling. "Adequate" means a minimum of 60-ampere service with no more than five two-wire branch circuits connected and a total connected load of less than ten kilowatts. If a service has six or more two-wire branch circuits, 100-ampere service at a minimum must be provided. If the connected electrical load exceeds the capacity of a 100-ampere service, a service of sufficient ampere capacity to safely bear the connected electrical load shall be furnished. "Edison base" fuses shall not be permitted as components of any electrical service, and no more than one two-wire branch circuit shall be connected to any fuse, circuit breaker or other approved over-current protection device. Drop cords from a neighboring source, generator or similar source are not "adequate" for purposes of this code.
         (b)   Every new or additional electrical outlet and fixture required by the code shall be installed, maintained and connected to a source of electric power in accordance with the provisions of the North Carolina Building Code.
         (c)   Lights and outlets.
            1.   Every habitable room or space shall contain at least two separate and remote duplex receptacle outlets.
            2.   Bedrooms shall have, in addition, at least one wall switch controlled lighting outlet or ceiling light fixture or permanent fixture controlled by a pull-chain.
            3.   In kitchens, three separate, remote and accessible receptacle outlets shall be provided, and a wall or ceiling light outlet controlled by a wall switch or fixture pull-chain shall be provided. An outlet dedicated to powering an appliance and/or not easily accessible because it is blocked by an appliance shall not be counted as a separate outlet. In kitchens with less than six linear feet of counter top, two of the three required outlets may be within the counter top space.
            4.   Exception. When an existing kitchen area is less than 70 square feet of floor area, two separate, remote and accessible receptacle outlets shall be provided, and a wall or ceiling light outlet controlled by a wall switch or fixture pull-chain shall be provided.
            5.   Every hall, water closet compartment, bathroom, laundry room or furnace room shall contain at least one ceiling-mounted or wall-mounted fixture outlet. For purposes of this section a laundry closet shall not be considered a laundry room.
            6.   In bathrooms, the lighting outlet shall be controlled by a wall switch or fixture pull-chain. In addition to the lighting outlet in every bathroom and laundry room, there shall be provided at least one receptacle outlet.
            7.   All outlets, switches, wiring and light fixtures shall be safe and operable. No extension cords shall be spliced or used as fixed wiring of a dwelling. Electrical odor, flickering lights, visibly frayed wiring, broken switch plates or outlet plates or failure of circuit-tester check shall be evidence of an unsafe electrical system.
         (d)   Lighting in halls and stairway. Every hall and stairway of every dwelling, shall be lighted, including exterior stairways and stairways in halls and public space.
         (e)   Dryer vents. Dryer vents shall be installed per Volume VII (CABO) Chapter 18, Section 1801, of the North Carolina State Building Code. This requirement shall become effective July 1, 2004.
         (f)   Range hoods. Range hoods, if installed, shall be vented to the outdoors per Volume VII (CABO) Chapter 18, Section 1802, of the North Carolina State Building Code. Vents serving range hoods shall not terminate in an attic or crawl space or other areas inside the building. Unvented range hoods must be installed per manufacturer's recommendations.
(Ord. 16-12, passed 11-15-16)