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    Proposed Changes to NC's Building Code: House Bill 255
    The Vault

    Proposed Changes to NC's Building Code: House Bill 255

    May 2015

    Changes may soon be coming to North Carolina’s building code.  House Bill 255, designed to make the inspection process more efficient for homebuilders, passed the NC House in April with bipartisan support.  It now sits in the Senate, under the guidance of the Committee on Rules and Operations.

    If passed, the legislation would reduce multiple inspections and create a new committee to review changes to NC’s building code.  Inspections would have to be done “in a timely manner” at the builder’s request and include a complete list of code violations.  Currently, in some cities and counties, inspectors won’t complete their full review until initial violations are resolved.  This results in multiple inspections and fees that burden the builder.  Under the proposed law, failing to perform inspections in a timely manner could result in disciplinary action against the inspector. Enforcing requirements “more stringent” than than building code would also be an offense.  The bill raises the threshold for obtaining a building permit, from $5,000 to $15,000, and forbids local governments from using inspection fee revenues for unrelated purposes.

    Sponsored by Republican Representative Mark Brody of Monroe, the bill enjoys wide bipartisan support.  Brody claims that multiple inspections serve as a “cash generator” for local governments, and that should be illegal. In addition, Brody claims, the legislation would address differing interpretations of the building code, making it impossible to “individualize”. Brody is a building contractor by trade.

    Standing in opposition to the bill are the NC League of Municipalities and the NC Building Inspectors Association.  The inspectors group has said the bill could let builders call in inspectors before a house is complete, compromising safety, and that it could expose inspectors to undue discipline that jeopardize their inspector certifications.  The group also claims it will increase costs for local governments as they will have to hire more employees and spend time defending themselves.  The NC League of Municipalities, also opposing the proposed disciplinary rules, fears a flight from the inspections industry.

    Whether this piece of legislation will pass will depend largely, I believe, on whether Brody and his supporters can convince the Senate that the current system is really broken and that this isn’t just a piece of self-serving legislation that benefits one industry (Brody’s).  In addition, Brody will have to convince lawmakers in Raleigh that it’s up to them, not city councils and county commissions, to properly serve the needs of individual communities.  That’s unprecedented, and the potential undoing of this legislation.  Should it really be the task of state lawmakers to tell individual jurisdictions how they can conduct their business?

    Whatever your feelings on House Bill 255, it has the potential to shake up how construction business is done in North Carolina.  Keep an eye on this if your business could be affected.


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