Legislation Would Prohibit Building Code Enforcement for DIY Projects


State Rep. Tom Kading, a lawmaker in his first term from Fargo’s District 45, has introduced HB1327. If passed, it would prohibit local governments from enforcing building codes on do-it-yourself projects.

You can read the full bill below, but here’s the pertinent excerpt:

I’m typically skeptical of most government regulations, and debating their efficacy is almost always a fruitful exercise, but this seems a bridge too far.

While it sounds nice to give this sort of an exception to someone working on their own, single-family home which they are using as a rental property, the long-term implications are troubling.

Because most homes survive long past the lifetimes of their owners, and dangerously shoddy work in areas like electrical systems or plumbing aren’t necessarily easy for home buyers to detect. Even the most thorough home inspector can’t rip open walls or dig holes to ensure that any improvements to a home you’re buying were done properly.

What building codes purchase us is some level of assurance that the homes we buy are safe and sound.

They’re not perfect, of course. It’s not all that uncommon to find homes where the owners have done their own wiring or plumbing illegally without permits or inspections. But this bill would open up the door to that sort of thing, with the only assurance that proper codes were followed being the assurance of the home owner.

Maybe if we required that the home owner sign an affidavit attesting, under penalty of law, that the improvements they’re doing are legal this bill would be better. But that seems like a needlessly complicated solution in search of a problem.

The legislation will get a committee hearing later this week.

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