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It’s Getting Hot In Here…

Eric Aune 2

It’s Getting Hot In Here…

“Mandate estimated to increase home-buying costs for Minnesota consumers by $10,000 – $20,000 per home”

That was the title of a press release that hit my email inbox a couple weeks ago. For those who do not know, I own and operate a small [mostly residential] plumbing and hydronics heating business on the north side of the Twin Cities.  Our business has changed over the last five years with its focus mostly on residential plumbing remodel work as a supplement to our main specialty, hydronics heating systems. Could this mandate effect my business? At first glance the headline’s emphasis on such high dollar amounts caught my attention but, there’s always more to the story than the headline so I read-on.

The source of the article, The Builders Association of the Twin Cities (BATC), of which I am not a card-carrying member, appears to oppose the legislation enacted by MN Governor Mark Dayton. In a statement by Shawn Nelson, President of the Builders Association of the Twin Cities, Nelson accuses Governor Dayton of “ignoring the facts and the advice of industry experts” and “the will of Minnesotans by imposing this unnecessary mandate upon Minnesota homeowners trying to build their dream home.”

The new mandate, which has been added along with recent updates to the state’s building code, will take effect in 2015. The mandate requires the installation of home indoor sprinkler systems in new construction single-family homes 4,500 sq. ft. and larger. According to the news release by BATC: This mandate threshold includes unfinished basements and is expected to directly impact 30-40 percent of new homes built in the MSP region alone over the next decade.

It doesn’t take an economic industry analyst to figure out this mandate will no doubt benefit residential sprinkler manufacturers and the contractors having jurisdiction and or certification to install such systems. Apparently the BATC has no interest in the expansion of business or free market competition this mandate will bring about for plumbing and sprinkler-fitting contractors. It seems the only concerns the association has in the matter are the possibility that the upper-middle class may opt for a 4,499 sq. ft. house instead or the additional management costs of adding another process to the construction schedule. Never mind the possible benefit this may have for even one single client.

In a listing of facts surrounding the Minnesota Home Indoor Sprinkler Mandate within the press release was the following:

“Of the 43 states that have taken action to update the residential advisory code, 41 have rejected home indoor sprinkler system mandates.  Minnesota joins California as one of only two states to adopt this mandate.”

Sure that may be factual in its content but there seems to be an undertone of opinion and opposition there too. I guess Minnesota could only be so crazy and hopped up on good intentions as to join with California in an effort to possibly save lives and create additional work/income for local businesses in the construction industry. The national Fire Protection Association (NFPA), in support of the Governor’s decision, states that with fire sprinkler systems in place, fires could be more readily contained, resulting in fewer injuries and deaths to homeowners and firefighters.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. Licensing jurisdiction and enforcement will help clear the air only a little as contractors will no doubt weigh the costs incurred to adding this to their bag of tools.

Do you have an opinion? What are your thoughts, have you dealt with this where you are? Please leave a comment below, and as always please keep it clean and constructive!

Eric

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2 Comments

  1. Bill Chapin
    Bill Chapin08-23-2014

    Actually MN becomes the third. Maryland also has adopted sprinkler requirements. We seriously need to question the numbers above from the home bulding lobby. The average cost has dropped significantly since the ICC added the requirement to the Residential Building Code in 2008. Study released in 2013 showed the mean cost down to $1.35 per square foot, from $1.61 back in 2008.
    http://www.firesprinklerinitiative.org/ is an informative (and I hope factual) site to get all the research needed.

  2. Jeff Williams
    Jeff Williams09-10-2014

    Personally I would have rather them mandated interconnected smoke alarms and egress for older housing stock. I’m a commercial contractor in MN and not connected to any part of the industry that would benefit from this mandate so I’d like to think I’m impartial.

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