County delays discussion on building codes
by BRIAN GRAVES Banner Staff Writer
Aug 19, 2014 | 519 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print

A proposed resolution that would publicize Bradley County’s intent to adopt the 2009 International Building Codes by Reference was pulled from the agenda by its sponsoring commissioner Monday.

Commissioner Charlotte Peak-Jones pulled the item and placed it on the work session agenda for next Monday at noon.

She said the intention is to also place it on the first voting session of the new Commission on Sept. 2.

Commissioner Mark Hall broached the subject, requesting the Commission’s permission to allow a local builder to speak to the issue.

“In the interest of doing the right thing, I think we’ve crippled the building industry in Bradley County,” Hall said. “We’ve sort of regulated ourselves out of being prosperous in this area. The profit margin is greater when a bathroom is remodeled than when a whole house is constructed.”

Michael Holden, a Bradley County contractor for 25 years, said his concern is that regulations from the state are being passed on “that mandate things that are not feasible, or just do not make economic sense for this county.”

He said insulating a crawl space in an existing home, under the codes, costs 45 percent of an insulation budget “that loses 15 percent [of its effectiveness].”

In other words, Holden says there are more areas in a home that would be more cost-effective to address, and that could use more attention. However, they are not what the codes require.

Holden said there is a lobbying group for insulation manufacturers in Washington, D.C., “that has a $4 million budget to push regulations through to help them and their constituents. It doesn’t help us as individuals. It doesn’t help this county.”

Holden said he felt citizens needs to fight those who are forcing things on the local communities “just because of lobbyists and big businessmen.”

“Even the most conservative data on their side say it would take 17 years in northern Minnesota for crawl space insulation to pay for itself,” he said. “Here [in Bradley County], you’re probably looking at 30 to 35 years.”

Holden made the point there are more important areas of a structure on which to focus.

He said if there is a leak, it goes through the floor into the insulation and can cause long-term problems.

“During that time, all types of mold and algae develop,” Holden said. “I do not know of a single homeowner who has ever had a leak that’s gone into their crawl space ... remove insulation. It’s just not something you’re going to do.”

“There are some things that I think we can limit that would save the homeowner and everyone involved money,” he said.

Peak-Jones agreed with Holder, but said the county is forced into a position to pass the codes.

“When the state passes it to us, they don’t let us go any more stringent than they are,” she said. “And, they also don’t allow us to opt in or out of certain energy codes so when we adopt the energy code we have to adopt the entire thing or not have codes.”

She said if the county has no codes it would have to abide by the state codes, “which are 10 times more stringent.”

“They’re actually mandating the 2015 already,” she said. “If we don’t adopt codes that are within the seven-year range, they we have to go by the state, and I’d rather not go by the state.”

“Our hands are tied,” Peak-Jones said.

She said the local builders association has been trying to fight some of the regulations.

“It depends on which lobbyists are screaming the loudest,” she said.