Tribune-Courier News Editor
BENTON — Representatives from Benton, Calvert City and the Marshall County Fiscal Court are considering inspections of new homes as a requirement for construction.
A meeting with members of the Marshall County Fiscal Court, and representatives of the cities of Benton and Calvert City was held at the Marshall County Courthouse on Dec. 10 to discuss expanding building inspections to include new single and two-family residences and larger commercial buildings.
Wendy Baxter, of Marshall County Planning, said the scope could be increased as a part of Marshall County’s expanded jurisdiction with Kentucky’s Department of Housing, Building and Construction.
Jim Bozeman, field operations supervisor for the Department of Housing, Building and Construction, said an inspector would be allowed to inspect a new home or commercial building’s foundation, framing and insulation and the finished building for requirements such as handrails.
“Local governments would need an ordinance to allow for inspection and to create a fee structure,” Bozeman said. “We encourage governments to have a fee to cover the cost of inspection and maybe a little above that.”
Bozeman added that the state would retain jurisdiction over facilities like hospitals, schools, day cares, hazardous usage sites and state facilities. If local governments do not assume the expanded jurisdiction, the state would still need to inspect larger commercial facilities, possibly causing delays. The state does not inspect homes.
“Right now, local governments are required to inspect plumbing, electrical and heating and air conditioning, but not the structures that are holding them up,” Bozeman said.
Calvert City Administrator John Ward said all new houses are required to meet Kentucky’s building code, bur many local governments do not enforce regulations.
Baxter said that the building codes would also apply to additions to existing buildings, and these new additions would also require inspection if the local governments opted to maintained expanded jurisdiction. Out buildings and structures on agricultural land would not be subject to inspection.
Martin Johnson, attorney for the city of Benton, said the city opted to start its own new home inspection program after some contractors built homes not meeting standards.
“We have a lot of fly-by-night contractors,” Judge-Executive Mike Miller said. “A lot of people from other communities are looking to build summer homes out by the lake. We have contractors who we don’t even know, who build as quickly as possible before moving on. It’s clear we have a lot of thinking to do, because we have to do something.”
The group discussed advantages of hiring a full-time inspector versus a contractor. Johnson suggested an inter-local agreement between the county and the cities of Hardin, Benton and Calvert City to provide inspection services county-wide.
“I don’t think we can afford a full-time position,” Johnson said.
Baxter said she had consulted McCracken County’s building inspector about a possible fee structure and expenses of a full-time inspector compared to a contractor. The group asked her to invite him to a future meeting for further information.
Bozeman said there is no hard deadline for accepting the expanded jurisdiction. If local governments do not accept the expanded jurisdiction, the state would inspect commercial property and provide no services for residences.