Lawrence Kansas Stands Up To Code Changes

It made me proud to be a native Kansan after reading the recent Lawrence Board of Realtors Newsletter. Here is an article apparently written by the KAR’s own lobbyist / Luke Bell (the hero that helped get HI’s licensed in Kansas).

Its good to know people like this are looking out for us.

Luke Bell, LBOR Director of Governmental Relations

The City of Lawrence is Beginning to Discuss the Adoption of New Building Codes; Controversial Fire Sprinkler Requirement Will Be Included in the Discussion Over the next year, the city will begin to review changes to the city’s existing building code. In early 2008, the city adopted the 2006 International Residential Code as the building code for residential properties. Since that code has now been updated to the 2009 version, the city will now examine the possibility of adopting the 2009 International Residential Code.

Unfortunately, the 2009 International Residential Code, which regulates the construction of single-family residential dwellings, includes a requirement mandating the installation of a fire sprinkler system in every residential dwelling. **If the city chooses to adopt the 2009 International Residential Code, it must specifically opt out of the fire sprinkler requirements contained in the model **code.

At this time, the city anticipates to complete this review by May 2010. The LBOR Governmental Affairs Committee will discuss this issue and participate in the code review process. **What This Means for REALTORS®: **Proponents of the fire sprinkler requirement contend that the installation of fire sprinklers provides fire safety protection to homeowners and firefighters.

However, the opponents of this requirement contend that fire sprinklers are difficult to maintain, increase homeowner maintenance costs, can cause accidental discharges that cause property damage and that the installation adds considerable expense to the cost of residential construction.

A state fire marshall that I met with, recently, told me how a representative of the Missouri Association of Builders recently spoke at one of their meetings…condemning the new IRC requirement for residential fire sprinkler systems that save the lives of dwellers and firefighters.

He began to speak as to how the increased cost would adversely affect the ability of some people to afford new homes.

He didn’t get far. According to the fire marshall, he was “booed and hissed” out of the room.

Jim said:

“Really?”…I guess he wasn’t given the time to place a price on a human life?

But “some” people wouldn’t be able to afford a New Home if they were required to install a life saving device.

Russian Roulette is much easier in his mind I take it?


Dan posted:

I’ve had them in my house since 1997, never had a problem.

As a matter of fact, I have NEVER heard of ANYONE having a problem with their fire suppression system in Scottsdale, which is, and has been a building requirement for many years.

Opponents----isn’t that something?

The same crowd that was ADAMANT about licensing home inspectors to PROTECT the consumers in Kansas, are part of the crowd OPPOSING sprinklers so as To PROTECT the consumers from accidents.

Dan, all I can do is shake my head in amazement.

You guys in the KS. MO. Area probably do the same, “Frequently”----:roll:–:shock:

I can not stop laughing at this one Dan. Go figure, and they are publishing it ta boot, Classic. :smiley:

And telling Fireman you do not like Fire Suppression Systems, that takes BALLS or no Brains, or both. :smiley:

How far are you guys willing to go to have government protect human life through mandates?

How “safe” do you want to make things?

Maybe we should ban stoves, bath tubs and stairways in the home as they are a potential source of serious injury and death.

Where do you draw the line?

There was a developer who built two subdivisions, side-by-side, in Kentucky. Experimentally, he built one subdivision with sprinkler systems and the other without. The development with sprinklers sold out before all the homes could be built…while the second struggled to sell the homes that had already been built, until they began adding sprinkler systems to them as well.

Moral of the story…buyers will buy a sprinkler protected home over one without when the option is available.

“My right to fry” does not seem to impress too many people who are looking for a safe and comfortable dwelling to raise a family.

Thank you for making my point.

The market decided that there was value in the sprinkler systems being added as evidenced by the pace of sales of the protected homes.

The free market works if you let it.

The government does not have to mandate and in fact distorts the market and tends increase costs.

I think the market has demonstrated that the builders are wrong in their objections to building codes.

You have to live in the absence of them to fully appreciate what it is like for 11-year old “electricians” to have no standards to go by when they wire their grandparents’ home from instructions received over the internet.

I will ask again:

Where do you draw the line?

You guys have no idea how serious this situation is.

I inspected a nursing home with open splices (in one instance, a splice of romex to low voltage wiring) laying half buried in dry cellulose insulation.

This was what prompted my call to the fire marshall where he told me the story I posted, earlier. My reason for calling him was that there was a record of his inspection of the property less than a year ago and I wanted to know if he had missed…or if he had approved…this dangerous condition.

He told me that he does not look at wiring. “I’m not an electrician” were his exact words. He checks for sufficient fire extinguishers, adequate egress, lighted exit signs, blah…blah…blah…but has never removed a panel cover from the electrical service.

This is in a county with no building codes, no licensed contractors, and no one inspecting their work.

In the neighboring county, under the same conditions, 10 people burned to death in a fire.

People like Larson are very easily led to believe, by those who financially profit from the absence of minimum basic building standards, that building codes are an intrusion upon their rights as Americans.

But people who drive to various Ozark locations from the state of Wisconsin, where Larson lives, are sleeping in structures and barbecuing on wooden decks overlooking deep ravines, cliffs and rivers…that have never been inspected by anyone after having been built, repaired and maintained without codes and licenses…and they don’t even know it. They think, as they turn the light out in their motel rooms, that they are as safe here as they are in their own homes where contractors are accountable to certain standards. They are not.

Building codes are laws that are designed to protect the public. The illustration I gave shows the mandate that the public gives to being protected.

Building codes are minimum basic standards that are applied in building and maintaining the property and are designed to protect the property from damage and the people dwelling within from harm.

When a device or procedure becomes known that has been proven to save lives, it should become a part of these minimum basic standards.

"People like Larson " are not against building codes Jim.

They are concerned that we are far too willing to let government mandate everything under the sun for our our own good and removing personal responsibilty from our decision making.

Nobody wants to admit it but it does come down to cost vs. benefit.

If you go for “maximum safe”, what are you giving up?

The point you are missing, Mike…is that the choice still remains with the consumer.

It is the builder who, in the presence of enforced building codes, must meet a minimum basic standard when creating a dwelling. Name a profession that (other than builders and contractors in the states of Missouri and Kansas) has no minimum standards to meet when manufacturing a product.

The buyer can, as I did, purchase a home built in 1897 before the majority of these standards even existed.

I disagree. For example: many states are now are mandating the installation of smoke and CO detectors in all homes.

What will stop them from mandating the installation of sprinklers systems in all used housing?

As I said, I am not against building codes but still think the free market should determine what enhanced safety systems should be installed in a home.

Those who desire to impose maximum safety on all of us will never stop.

Perhaps it would be wiser to let your government representatives know of your desires than to tell us.

There were many Kansans on the message board fighting HI legislation, but few of them wanted to risk their relationships with the realtors pushing the bill and stayed away from meetings with legislators. That is how crazy bills become law.

I personally made the motion to the City Council in Moline Acres to have CO monitors made mandatory in the city. More than half of their dwellings were rental units supplied with natural gas and a lot of weekend-handyman modifications. Renters needed the protection and, in an open hearing on the subject, not one single person objected.

CO and smoke detectors are prudent and cost effective means of protection.

Sprinkler systems are much more about protecting structures than lives. I think it makes more sense for insurers to offer lower premiums for sprinklered buildings.

That would be a market based solution.

A couple of years ago, a bill was introduced to mandate radon testing of any home before it was sold. Kansas Association of Realtors shut it down. A proposal to mandate detectors in every home was talked about. Gone. They will also will shut down the sprinkler issue. These people have the resources and political clout to do anything they want. They have all of the lawmakers here in Kansas in their pockets. This is why they want, and got, home inspector licensing, to control us, to make us write soft reports, to get the veterans out and replace them with newbies, and to move the liability on to us. This is a government conspiricy at is worst, and should be stopped in Kansas. Lawmakers work for the people; not their corporate interests. When it comes election time, these lawmakers will be voted out. As it is Nationally, they all better change their tune, or we will change it for them.