Letter: Another nail in the coffin for builders
To say the local housing and building market is strained would be understated. As a home designer, I get calls from subcontractors looking for work or referrals all the time now. This makes Yavapai County's recent code enforcement decisions all the more questionable.
I've been turning in house plans to local jurisdictions for over 15 years (successfully), and requirements ebb and flow. We adjust. But this is just wrong. I now will have to charge more for plans in Yavapai County than for the same in, say, the City of Sedona. Why? Because of County procedures adopted along with new codes. All the local jurisdictions have adopted the 2006 IRC, IBC, etc. Soon, the International Energy Conservation Code will be enforced. The Codes are challenging to keep up with, but Yavapai County loads on more.
About the time Yavapai County Planning & Building Dept. became Y.C. "Development Services" (eye-roll), they started requiring that residential truss calculations be turned in prior to permit review. It's been an inconvenience ever since, and makes it difficult for my clients to get competitive bids from different contractors.
But with the IECC adoption, this trend is being extended to a ridiculous level. Now, YCDS will require a complete Heating/Cooling system design submitted prior to permit review, as well as other specifications that have never been required here for a home before.
The problem is that many folks need to get competitive bids on their project while concurrently submitting plans for permit review.
In Yavapai County, this will now be virtually impossible. In addition to making a blind choice of truss manufacturer to do the truss calculations & possibly paying for them, I'll now have to find an HVAC contractor to do the heating/cooling calculations and specify a system.
Without knowing who the general contractor will be! Worse, just as the truss designs always change during construction, newer HVAC components are always coming out, ensuring that the spec's for that will change during construction as well.
So, if you put your plans out to bid first (four weeks or so), get prices, select a contractor, get the required calc's & spec's, have them incorporated into the plans, submit the plans to the County, and they take four weeks to review them. Your bids have expired, or will have to be updated. Suddenly your careful budget is out the window.
There is a smart way to enforce these codes. The City of Sedona does it, and has had fewer problems than Yavapai County. It's called "deferred submittal."
That means a builder can turn in the truss calc's at the time of the framing inspection, when all the adjustments have been made. It means they could turn in the HVAC design at the time of installation, when the owners have had the chance to review options and costs.
The officials at the jurisdiction still get to review them, and make any additional requests.
The way Yavapai County "Deviation Services" insists on enforcing these requirements adds cost to the plans and to the final home. It slows down the building schedule.
It adds challenges to an already struggling economic sector. It's not necessary. Are we willing to let a few bureaucrats make the building of a simple home into the sport of kings? Contact your Board of Supervisors.
Barbara 'Blue' Boelter