Sometimes it feels like what happens at the Capitol in St. Paul doesn’t have much of an effect on our
daily lives. The code changes and regulatory environment created by our legislature over the past few
years has certainly changed that opinion. Despite an improving economy, phenomenally low
unemployment rates, the lowest inventory of for sale homes in the past decade, and historically low
interest rates; residential home construction in the Twin Cities is seeing a year over year decline in the
number of permits for the second consecutive year. This is directly a result (among other reasons) of
an overly burdensome regulatory environment adding costs to the construction that are not value
added for the consumer. The recent code changes add $10,000 to the cost of a new home and double
that if a sprinkler system is required. With this backdrop, the Builder Association of the Twin Cities has
increasingly stepped up our presence on the Capitol to influence bills that affect our industry. Here are
some highlights from the 2015 Session:
Energy Performance Path. The Department of Labor and Industry has agreed to create a code
reference home for modeling which will allow for some insulation trade offs. Think of it as “we don’t
care how you get to a certain energy efficiency as long as you get there.”
Builder Pay Attorney Fees. A bill was blocked that would require builders to pay all attorney fees in
homeowner warranty disputes.
Street Improvement District Fees. New developments are protected from costly street improvement
district fees that the League of MN Cities was trying to impose.
Of course not all of our efforts resulted in wins as we’ve been unable to repeal the sprinkler mandate.
This is despite the fact the vast majority of the legislature supports our cause. The veto threat from
our Governor has kept this repeal off of other bills.
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