Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Building fees go up in Boone

By Brenna R. Kelly
The Cincinnati Enquirer

BURLINGTON - To keep up with exploding growth in Boone County, the county building department is raising inspection fees.

That will allow the Boone County Building Department to hire more inspectors to meet the demand of construction in the state's second-fastest-growing county.

The 30 percent increase, approved by Boone County Fiscal Court on Tuesday night, is the first increase in nearly 20 years.

"It will give inspectors more time to do inspections by having more people," said Jim Key, chief building official.

Building inspectors now spend about 15 minutes going over a new house, Key said.

The inspection of a 2,500-square-foot home with a 1,400-square-foot basement and 600-square-foot attached garage will now cost $430.

That compares to $670 in Grant County, $675 in Campbell County and $450 in Kenton County.

The Home Builders' Association of Northern Kentucky supported the increase, an unusual endorsement from builders, said Executive Vice President Dan Dressman.

"Everybody here felt it was equitable and necessary," Dressman said. "They know how to manage their money out there."

Though the increase will likely be passed to home buyers, the average increase of about $50 would be included in the price of homes, Dressman said.

Boone County's population increased 62 percent from 1990 to 2002. .

The number of building permits rose by more than 250 percent from 1992 to 2003.

In 2002, the building department conducted 30,270 inspections, an increase of 20 percent since 1999.

That left inspectors conducting 15 inspections a day. The Insurance Services Organization recommends 10.

By increasing the number of building inspectors, the county hopes to lower its Insurance Services Organization rating, the tool by which companies set homeowners insurance rates. The county now rates a 4 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best.

It also hopes to catch more construction mistakes.

"There seems to be an increase in the number of complaints ... from homeowners regarding code violations that were not found during inspections," Key said.

The new fees will take effect April 1.


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