A bill aimed at reforming North Carolina’s building code to “promote economic growth” is making its way through the state legislature with bipartisan support, but it’s receiving criticism from outside organizations.

Specifically, the North Carolina Building Code Regulatory Reform bill (HB 255) will ensure building inspections are done uniformly throughout the state, among other things.

Republican Rep. Mark Brody of the Charlotte metropolitan area sponsors the bill. Concerned about losing business and residents to nearby South Carolina, Brody has made regulatory reform his main target as a legislator.

Republican State Representative Mark Brody is the sponsor of HB 255.
Republican State Representative Mark Brody is the sponsor of HB 255.

“Our building code requires seven basic inspections, but the law still states that inspectors can inspect the way they want to ensure the house is built correctly,” he says. “Certain jurisdictions have abused that” and they will require repeated inspections, which, according to Brody, was a way to simply make money. Brody’s other concern was that because of this provision, a house that passes inspection in one part of the state might not pass in another.

“We’re going to start watching the inspection industry to make sure that [they] don’t step out of the line. We’re asking them voluntarily to straighten out,” Brody says.

The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) isn’t convinced. According to the organization, the bill “will have a detrimental impact on homeowners, local governments and building officials.”

“Among other potentially harmful provisions, HB 255 creates a new, unchecked bureaucracy called the Residential Code Committee, which would be dominated by builders and contractors whose highest priority may not necessarily be the health, safety and welfare of the occupants or building safety,” says Debra Ballen, senior vice president of public policy for IBHS.

Brody says that isn’t true.

“This is a subcommittee that will handle the residential side,” he says. He stressed it won’t write code, but will make recommendations before North Carolina’s over-arching building committee for the residential side of construction. Brody says the committee is also only made up of two general residential contractors and that the rest are engineers and electrical contractors. “There’s no domination of residential builders in there,” he says.

Another provision with which IBHS took issue was Part IV, which eliminated mandatory plan review for residential structures. That has since been taken out, Brody says. “The industry and myself agree that it’s basically unnecessary, expensive and time-consuming.”

Other parts of the bill include a streamlining of the process by which new products, designs and methods are inspected via a website that offers guides to inspections and a provision that only allows inspection fees to be spent for activities of the inspection department.

The bill heads to the floor next Wednesday with bipartisan support and is expected to head to the state senate shortly afterwards.

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