So…a state passes a law to license home inspectors and, still suffering from the same conditions, concludes that licensed home inspectors without building codes…solves nothing.
Every Missouri and Kansas Legislator needs a copy of this articlewhen the 2010 session opens.
A couple buys a new home in a community without a residential code enforcement program. The couple does a walk-through, but the home is never inspected by a licensed home inspector until after they move in. Within the first year of owning the home, they discover stress cracks in the foundation blocks, improperly vented bathroom fans, rafters installed to span too far for their size and kitchen plumbing that allowed sewer gas to flow into the home. The couple pursue the only legal recourse they have — a lawsuit against the contractor — that may never lead to the outcome they desire.
I hear stories like this one from our Contractors Licensing Board program staff all too frequently. In addition to all too often being victims of substandard construction, Tennessee homeowners also have the distinction of leading the nation in residential electrical energy consumption. Gov. Phil Bredesen, in signing into law the Tennessee Clean Energy Future Act of 2009, observed that while we like to be at the top of many lists, this is not one of them.
Adopting and enforcing a residential code ensures safer construction and adds energy efficiency that literally pays dividends to homeowners over time. In fact, under the newer editions of the International Residential Code, the savings in energy costs more than make up for any increase in construction costs within just a few years. Adopting and enforcing an up-to-date residential code has been recognized by affordable housing advocates as wise public policy.
Energy efficiency is critical
After meeting with contractors, builders, codes officials, and city and county officials, and in conjunction with the Governor’s Energy Task Force, our state fire marshal division recently filed a notice of rulemaking. True to our governor’s call to lead by example, we will be requiring all state building projects to meet the most energy efficient building standards. We will also be adopting the 2009 International Residential Code, which will apply to all new residential construction in any city and county that either hasn’t adopted its own residential code enforcement program or has decided to allow the state fire marshal to implement the state’s program. We are designing this codes enforcement program to be implemented statewide at absolutely no cost to local governments.
As an added incentive, working through the state’s energy office, we will be providing to participating municipalities free materials and training in the 2009 code, as well as recent editions of the codes. Federal grants of up to $100,000 for energy improvements have criteria designed to give incentives to communities making, or allowing the state to make, progress in codes adoption or enforcement.
We are excited to be a part of the efforts to align policy with our governor’s vision for a safer and greener Tennessee, and we hope that by setting the standard for state building projects, Tennessee cities and counties will participate in this statewide initiative to help make our homes safe and energy efficient.