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NC House passes building-code reforms

The N.C. House has approved a bill designed to ease restrictions on homebuilders by reducing property inspections and defining misconduct.

Legislation notebookWEBThe N.C. Building Code Regulatory Reform Bill, also known as HB 255, passed by a margin of 105-5 on Tuesday.

Sponsored by a bipartisan group that included Reps. Mark Brody of Monroe and Tricia Cotham of Matthews, the bill has been sent to the N.C. Senate.

The legislation’s provisions include:

  • Clarifying official misconduct among code officials to include the enforcement of requirements that exceed the state building code and the habitual failure to provide requested inspections in a timely manner.
  • Raising the cost threshold to $15,000 from $5,000 for when a building permit is required on single-family construction, installation, repair or replacement. Some exceptions apply, such as load-bearing structures.
  • Creating a residential code committee to recommend code changes to the N.C. Building Code Council. The committee would feature general contractors specializing in residential and coastal construction, an engineer, a plumbing and heating contractor, a fire-service representative, and an electrical contractor.
  • Requiring inspectors to provide permit holders with a complete list of items that fail to meet code requirements after performing an inspection in “a timely manner.”
  • Disallowing cities and counties from using inspection-fee revenue for unrelated expenses.
  • Requiring the N.C. Department of Insurance to post on the Internet any appeal decisions, interpretations or variations on the state’s building code within three business days of issuance.

The bill originally sought to prohibit local governments from requiring plan reviews and approvals on new single-family homes. But that raised the possibility of increased homeowner insurance rates, so the proposed legislation was edited to continue allowing cities and counties the option of conducting residential plan reviews, said Joe Padilla, executive public policy director of the Real Estate and Building Industry Coalition in Charlotte.

“The crux of the bill is to create changes in state law to facilitate a more streamlined and timely building-permit process,” Padilla said.

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