A Look at Increased Building Inspection Fees
|Building inspection fees were approved for an increase on Nov. 16 at commission meeting.|
The recent increase in building permit fees has raised some questions for county residents. They have wondered why and how much these fees have been raised. The responsibilities of a building inspector are numerous and with the addition of several cities, the existing responsibilities for planning and zoning and department responsibilities have been overwhelming for the current county building inspector. Hence, the need for a relook at the way the county does building inspections and the need for additional help in the department.
One of the chief responsibilities of the building inspector is to ensure that a building is being built to code. This ICC code contains 2,800 pages and knowing the ins and outs of the code is time consuming and demanding. A good inspector should know the code and why the rules are made, they need a good knowledge of the industry and background to make good decisions. The inspector needs to know when to stand firm and when adjustments can and should be allowed. An inspector must also be a public relations person who can work with the public in helping them solve their problems and meet their needs.
The building inspector travels from one end of the county to the other. An inspection in Castle Dale may take less than an hour, but one in Emery can take up to three hours for travel and inspection time. A building in progress must be inspected a number of times, which leads to the time consuming aspect of the job. Inspections are required for each step along the way including: footing, foundation, temporary electrical service, rough framing, HVAC, plumbing and electrical, insulation, sheet rock, house wrap, natural gas, electrical service and a final inspection.
The building inspector would like to start or enhance services, but is limited in doing so because of lack of manpower. Improvements could be made for complete monitoring of construction sites throughout the county to ensure building permits are issued and inspections made. Roofing and siding jobs could more actively be pursued for building permits. Sometimes this siding work is done by out of the area contractors and is not as professional as an inspector would require them to be. Also, monitoring of ongoing projects could be more regular especially where the builder has not asked for an inspection in awhile. Final inspections are very important for safety reasons. One big offender is lack of hand rails and wiring is a must for inspection.
An important aspect of the building inspector job is spending the time with do-it-yourselfers. They need reassurance and it is helpful for the inspector to spend time going over rules and regulations with them.
In day to day operations the inspector is involved with handing out information and forms to those wanting building permits. The applications must be checked for accuracy and completeness. The building inspector checks plans and issues permits. The building inspector maintains records and communication with the cities. He also keeps a contractors list and tracking information.
A building permit is intended to be a true user fee to cover services provided by the building department. As much as possible, the consumer should get what they pay for.
With the increase in building permit fees to the Uniform Building Code 1997 the building permit fee for a $100,000 home will be $993.75. Under the old fee structure the building permit fee for a $100,000 home was $289.30.
The increase is 3.4 times what it was. This big jump in fees is the cause for the concern among county residents. The commission explained at a public hearing held that the old fee schedule was antiquated and has not kept up with rising costs. It is the hope of the commission that the building fee increase will help so additional help can be obtained in the building inspection department.
The details for the monetary contributions for the cities to have the county inspector take care of all of their inspections is still being worked out.
The resolution approved at the commission meeting stated: "Whereas, Emery County has established the office of building official pursuant to Title 58, Chapter 56 of the Utah Code Annotated, (1953) as amended and whereas, a number of the cities and towns within Emery County have expressed a desire to enter into an interlocal agreement with the county underwhich the county's building official would provide building inspection services within the incorporated boundaries of such cities or towns; and whereas, such expansion of the duties and services of the building official will require increased financial resources; and whereas the fees charged by Emery County for building permits have not kept pace with the fees charged by other counties in this state; and whereas, the fees set forth herein as suggested by the 1997 Uniform Building Code and not greater than the limits stated in UCA Section 1-36-102. Whereas, Emery County finds that the fees set forth in this resolution are reasonably necessary to offset the costs of provided building inspection services, issuing building permits and creating and maintaining records of such activities; now, therefore, it is hereby resolved by the Emery County Commission, which is the legislative body of Emery County, as follows: That the county shall henceforth, until further changes by this body, charge, assess and collect fees for building permits in accordance with the following schedule:
If the total valuation of construction is not greater than $500 the fee is $23.50. If more than $500, but less than $2,000, the fee is $23.50, plus $3.05 for each additional $100 or fraction thereof, in excess of $500. For valuation of construction more than $2,000 and not greater than $25,000, the fee is $69.25, plus $14 for each additional $1,000 or fraction thereof, in excess of $2,000. For valuation more than $25,000 and not greater than $50,000 the fee is $391.75 plus $10.10 for each additional $1,000 or fraction thereof, in excess of $25,000. For valuation more than $50,000, and not greater than $100,000 the fee is $643.75 plus $7 for each additional $1,000 or fraction thereof, in excess of $50,000. If valuation is more than $100,000 and not greater than $500,000 the fee is $993.75 plus $5.60 for each additional $1,000 or fraction thereof, in excess of $100,000.
If valuation is more than $500,000 and not greater than $1 million, the fee is $3,233.75 plus $4.75 for each additional $1,000, or fraction thereof, in excess of $500,000. More than $1 million, the fee is $5,608.75 plus $3.65 for each additional $1,000 or fraction thereof, in excess of $1 million. In addition to said fees, a surcharge of 1 percent shall be added as required by U.C.A. 58-56-9.
The value of construction shall be determined according to the most current edition of the uniform building code, building valuation data schedule.