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What Californians should know about houses prone to wildfire

California house hunters have an additional factor to worry about in their search. The process is no longer just about the proximity to work, the view or the mortgage rate. Now you have to worry about if your house is going to make it to next year.

While California's laws may change within the next couple of years to reflect on the recent destruction, there are already some regulations in place when it comes to those living in houses close to highly flammable areas. Current and future residents should be aware of what the state currently has for those thinking of moving to these potentially dangerous locations.

Homeowners must be warned about wildfire risks

Those who lost their home in a wildfire might first think to sue whoever sold the property for not warning them about the probability that their home might go down in flames. After all, the state requires transferors of real estate located in high fire hazard severity zones to warn the new owner about the high fire hazard, especially when they have knowledge about it or the county map clearly shows that the area is vulnerable.

However, the law doesn't specify how the transferor should disclose the warning. Chances are, the only exposure most home buyers would get is a small section in the fine print. If there was a large warning in the documents or the real estate agent stops to warn you during their pitch, they believe you would feel less inclined to give the location a shot. While purchasing a home, try not to speed through the property's documents so you can start moving in right away. One crucial detail could be all it takes to hold someone liable or for you to decide to look somewhere else.

Builders must use fire-resistant materials

Since 2008, California has had strict building codes for houses in highly flammable locations. They specify the type of material and measurements that should be used in the construction to minimize overall fire damage to the property. Much of the material it asks workers to use are noncombustible and ignition-resistant.

Despite the purpose of these codes, they do not guarantee that houses will not burn down when a wildfire blazes through the area. In fact, 80 percent of the homes burned down in the Thomas Fire had fire-resistant exteriors. The codes also do not cover additional parts of the property such as outdoor wooden sheds or garages that could spread embers throughout the building.

Whether or not the property transferor gave you all of this information prior to your purchase, you should consider exploring your legal options if you and your home are victim to the ever-increasing threat of state wildfires.

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