TAMPA (April 9, 2015) –The North Carolina Building Code Regulatory Reform bill (HB 255) will have a detrimental impact on homeowners, local governments and building officials by making homes in the state less safe and more costly, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) said today.
“As many states are looking for ways to strengthen their communities by building stronger and safer homes, this bill would cause North Carolina to take a step backward putting residents at risk,” said Debra Ballen, general counsel and senior vice president, public policy, for IBHS.
“Among other potentially harmful provisions, HB 255 creates a new, unchecked bureaucracy called the Residential Code Committee, which would be dominated by builders and contractors whose highest priority may not necessarily be the health, safety and welfare of the occupants or building safety,” Ballen said.
“North Carolina ranked seventh out of the 18 hurricane-prone states evaluated in IBHS’ 2015 Rating the States building code systems report. However, continued legislative and regulatory actions to weaken building code protection requirements during the past few years are a major concern,” explained Ballen.
“The impact of weak codes will become apparent only at the moment when strength is most needed – when a hurricane or other natural catastrophe pummels the state,” stated Ballen.
HB 255 specifically prohibits both municipalities and counties from requiring plan review and approval for residential structures. The result of removing this important code enforcement requirement will be:
- elimination of the most cost-effective moment to catch mistakes before any money is spent on construction;
- loss of one of the two key times when local government can affect the details of building construction by identifying and preventing building code and zoning code violations before homes are under construction;
- increased costs to homebuyers to correct code violations after homes are under construction;
- potentially serious deficiencies in a class of homes after construction is completed by the same builder and is missed by the inspector; this could result in increased cost to homebuilders because they will need to correct problems post-construction;
- increased time and cost for inspections and re-inspections because of corrective actions required due to deficiencies discovered after construction is underway; and,
- threats to the health, safety and welfare of homeowners because code violations were not identified in homes already under construction.
“When disasters strike, communities with strong, well-enforced building codes fare better than those with weak or no codes,” said Ms. Ballen. “Property damage is greatly reduced, communities recover faster, the local economy and tax bases are maintained, and the amount of government disaster aid is decreased when buildings are stronger and more resilient.”
IBHS opposes HB 255, and is hopeful the North Carolina House Finance Committee, which is currently considering the bill, realizes the potential damage this legislation could do to the state.