Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Home-inspection policy put on hold

By John Kiesewetter
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HAMILTON - Butler County commissioners have balked at adopting a tough, zero-tolerance policy on homebuilders who do work without prior inspections.

Commissioners say they want to meet with builders May 17 to discuss the proposal by Bill Balsinger, chief building inspector.

Balsinger wants to demand that all footers, insulation, drywall or backfill work be ripped out if installed before an inspection - even if the county building department was at fault for not showing up on time.

Balsinger borrowed the tough language from Warren County, which has enforced such a policy for two years. It has reduced uninspected installations from 50 a year to about one, says Jerry Spurling, chief building official.

"It's worked really great for us. We did it because builders had abused the system," he said.

Alan Schmidt, president of Schmidt Builders of West Chester Township, said the new policy would be "a great hardship to builders. To take that step now would be a big, big mistake."

Hamilton and Clermont counties do not have zero-tolerance policies, said Charles Bullington of Bullington-Gleason builders of West Chester Township and a member of the Greater Cincinnati Homebuilders Association.

Sometimes inspection delays can be costly if concrete trucks are already at the construction site, Bullington said.

"It's not that we want to be heartless," Balsinger said, "but we're here to protect the public and ... protect the builder."

Commissioner Greg Jolivette said he could not support the building-code amendment without talking to builders.

"I'm not sure I agree with zero tolerance, when other instances play a factor. There needs to be some sort of leeway," Jolivette said.


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