April 5, 2011

Builders protest attempts to undo uniform code

By Tux Turkel tturkel@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA — A collection of homebuilders, engineers and contractors gathered at the State House today to protest attempts to gut or eliminate Maine’s new Uniform Building & Energy Code, which was adopted last year.

Maine’s code is similar to those in 40 other states. But several pieces of legislation have been drafted to repeal or weaken the building code, including LD 43 – An Act to Repeal the Maine Uniform Building & Energy Code. That bill is scheduled for a public hearing at the Legislature’s Labor Committee on Thursday.

The businesses involved in today’s protest called on Gov. Paul LePage and legislators to oppose these rollbacks. They said the code improves Maine’s business climate, reduces energy costs, and improves the quality and safety of new homes and commercial buildings.

Speakers provided copies of a letter to LePage signed by some of Maine’s leading building trade associations, representing over 1,500 member businesses.

John O’Dea, president of the Associated General Contractors, emphasized that the code was good for business.

“Having a single code for Maine makes it so much easer to do commercial development in the state,” ODea said. “We want the governor and legislators to know that this is a positive form of regulation because these are very achievable, measurable standards.”

The state is training and certifying existing code enforcement officials and third-party inspectors who can certify code compliance in towns that choose not to hire municipal code officials. Towns that did not previously have a building code have until July 2012 to choose some method of enforcement.

A new analysis of costs and benefits of the energy portion of the code was described by Yarmouth builder and insulation contractor Ashley Richards. He said the incremental cost of building to the code is less than $3,000, and creates net savings through energy bill reductions, starting with the first monthly payment.



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