Bill aims to change contracting inspection laws in Utah

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – A new bill, if passed, would allow builders to hire their own inspectors to keep projects on time. House Bill 98, would also allow builders to bypass city ordinances that require a home or building to look a certain way.

It has representatives from 17 cities in an uproar saying the state government is going too far.

“It’s an issue because essentially it takes power away from municipalities to regulate building standards within their own cities,” says West Haven Council Member Nina Morse.

Utah is booming, and it’s evident by all the construction we see.

“We are one of the fastest-growing cities in the state,” says Council Member Morse.

She says with all the new building the city is undertaking, she’s concerned House Bill 98 may derail some of the city’s master plans by going around city inspectors to complete builds.

“Now you have developers policing themselves,” she says. ” It essentially changes our oversight on safety of buildings. We don’t know if they are safe.”

Council Member Morse says cities have basically three choices with inspectors.

“If our city inspectors can’t get the inspection done in a timely manner, we also have contracted inspectors on back up, on standby, waiting to be called in to do those inspections,” she says.

Clinton Representative Paul Ray introduced HB 98. He says it aims to do three things.

  1. Throw out architectural design standards

“So what it does is it eliminates people from certain income levels to be able to move into those cities. We call that redlining,” says Rep. Ray.

2. Allow developers to get building permits quicker

“It gives them the ability to do their jobs and if they can’t it allows these homeowners to continue building,” says Rep. Ray.

3. Allow a developer to hire an inspector if a city can’t complete an inspection in time.

“If the city cannot do it in three days, then the builder has the right to go out and hire a licensed inspector who is licensed in the state by DOPL, to go in and do these inspections, to do the remainder of the inspections so they can stay on time,” Rep. Ray adds.

The representative says his bill is to make housing more affordable while keeping projects on time. He says he surveyed cities during last year’s legislative session.

“Which honestly, only 82 percent of the cities reported back, so we really didn’t have great data,” says Rep. Ray.

He goes on to say, “I think it helps the cities when they get a backlog of homes, they can you know, the builder has that option now. They can take a lot of stress off the cities.”

“H.B. 98 is really a concerning bill,” says South Weber City Council Member Hayley Alberts. “It allows developers and builders to kind of bypass what municipalities have in place as far as inspections, as far as plans, checking with the code, and making sure that it follows all of our rules in our cities.”

She says state leaders should not take a one size fits all approach to building.

“What it does for us is requires that builders are able to get away with a lot more with a lot less work, and it is on the responsibility of the city. In the end, it doesn’t do anything for housing affordability,” says Council Member Alberts. “What I’m finding and what I’ve found with this press release,. is a lot of people don’t feel this bill is negotiable, it’s a bad bill and it needs to die in committee.”

Rep. Ray says he has amended H.B. 98, and more information will be released next week through the league of cities. He’s hoping when that letter goes out, it will clear up some of the confusion surrounding the bill.

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