• Posted On: November 17, 2015

There is a Way to Provide Building Code Inspections on a Small Budget

As a small town, you often don’t have the funds for many big city amenities. Sometimes you don’t have the budget to support even necessary services – like a full-time building code department. Normally, there are state guidelines mandating building code checks during the new construction process. Inspectors may be state-supplied or the work may be contracted out to more local agents. But who makes sure that existing structures are staying within code? Do you adopt code legislation that keeps an eye on the upkeep and safety of older buildings if you don’t have officers to perform inspections?

You do need inspectors to show up during new construction. It keeps buyers and sellers on good terms (and safe) when there is a quality and safety threshold that everyone can depend upon. However, just because a structure is safe today doesn’t mean that it will stay safe for the years ahead. Beautiful cities and towns don’t happen by accident. There is planning involved and certain standards are agreed upon to maintain a neat or charming appearance that will draw visitors and therefore, businesses. In the same way, safety doesn’t happen by chance. Minimum standards need to be established and enforced for that to happen.

One small town in Ohio learned this lesson the hard way. The city had no existing building code statute to mandate standards for building upkeep. Consequently, when one historic downtown building began to literally crumble, it fell on neighboring buildings damaging them. This is a city leader’s nightmare. Collapsing structures that pose a safety hazard to the public and an investment problem to business interests.

The town leadership decided they had to take action. Their first order of business was to pass a building code that required property owners to maintain structures in keeping with certain safety standards. The city had to shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars to haul away debris from the tumble-down buildings, but the new legislation should prevent the problem from recurring.

The issue of who will perform those inspections was solved by delegating to the local fire department. The city now has a code and de facto code officers, proving that even small towns can provide safety – they can’t afford not to.

If you’re the leader of a small community on a shoestring budget, you don’t have to sacrifice safety or minimum appearance standards because of financial constraints. At Comcate we provide software tools designed to help communities of every size stay on top of their building code enforcement responsibilities. Our building code software can help officers (even those delegated from another department) to keep correct records, stay on schedule for inspection checks and communicate smoothly with property owners and the courts. There is a way to provide building code security on a small town budget. Contact us and learn how.

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