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Council votes to drop state building codes; Proposal’s second reading set for Monday night

Posted on Friday, June 13, 2014 at 9:00 am

Moore County councilman Korby Holcomb (1st Dist.) has asked the council to consider opting out of the state’s building code regulations. After hearing Holcomb’s reasoning during last month’s meeting, the council tentatively agreed.

Wayne Brandon made a motion to approve opting out of the state building codes pending county attorney John T. Bobo’s imput at this month’s meeting. Tommy Brown seconded the motion, which was approved by acclamation.

Holcomb cited increasing permit fees; the time it takes to have a state inspector visit a build site; and a short list of unwarranted regulations on certain building materials as his primary reasons.

“The overriding thing is the principal that we are now subjected to not only state regulations but Federal and International regulations on energy and conservation and all those things,” said Holcomb. “These people don’t have the best interest of Moore Countians in mind.”

Holcomb noted that the increase in the permit fee is going to the state as well, not the county.

“We are losing money that used to stay here in the county,” he said.

There will be a second reading of the motion at this Monday’s meeting, which is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. on June 16.

Holcomb was not on the Metro Council when the current State Building Codes were adopted in 2010. At that time they were from the 2009 International Energy Conservation codes and the 2006 Residential codes. The codes are updated every three years.

Holcomb said that after talking with Mayor Sloan Stewart, he felt the catalyst for adopting the current regulations dealt primarily with several bad storms and issues with some homes that were built sub-standard.

“You can’t regulate good behavior in a case like that,” Holcomb said. “The homeowner that had the houses built by a contractor who didn’t use good building practices would try to get away with it no matter if there is a state inspector or not.

“The bottom line is it should be the homeowner’s responsibility to make sure the home is built correctly. My proposal is to have a document for the homeowner to sign as part of the permit process that would state Moore County is not subject to the State Building Code Regulations and the homeowner would be responsible for the builder to perform his job correctly.”

The council’s primary concern was liability — of both the county and the seller — to any potential buyer. Councilman Marty Copeland (3rd Dist.) said he thought the Council adopted the state codes at the time in order to protect the county in case someone purchased a home that was of sub-par construction.

“We have to have three readings on this and I need to do a little more research on it,” said Bobo. “There are a couple of areas that I’m not totally comfortable with and I will check out further,” adding that the county should be very careful what kind of permit it sells.

“We don’t want to hold ourselves out as providing any kind of inspection or insurance when we are not. You may want to charge a fee for process, which is really more of a revenue generator. I think if you choose to opt out you can do it. You would have less liability with no rules than you would with a set of rules you are not adequately checking or enforcing.”

Stewart suggested that the permit should say nothing about building or codes.

“If the land owner wants to build a home, they want to do it right and he should make sure the builder does it right,” added Holcomb. “Or if they want to do it themselves, they shouldn’t have to study the codes for two years to know what they would have to adhere to.”

—By ROBERT HOLMAN, Editor & Publisher