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Homebuilder inspection practices up for debate

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RALEIGH -- The housing market has been on the rise recently recovering from the recession that started in 2007. But some state lawmakers say current building inspection practices, which vary across the state, make it difficult for homebuilders to grow their business.

"A builder that builds in Rutherford County where I am from needs to know what is required for them," said Rep. Mike Hager, R-Rutherford County. "And, what is expected of them if they build in Mecklenburg County or Wake County or anywhere else.

Hager says this confusion in current law could trickle down to the home buyer because if there are more rules and regulations for the builder those costs will be passed down.

Under House Bill 120, the code would be unified and it would change the current practice of updating the code every three years to only updating every six years.

"What we want to do actually is look at this on a longer term basis so that gives us more time to evaluate best practices," said Hager.

But some advocates say this is a step in the wrong direction for home buyers.

"Rather than trying to fix something that is not broken it seems like something is being broken that is working really well and that is a shame," said Dustin Chicurel-Bayard from the Sierra Club.

The North Carolina Sierra Club says rather than being concerned with keeping costs down, lawmakers should look at devaluing homes.

"It could really put North Carolina behind other states," said Chicurel-Bayard. "Moving to a six year building standard rather than a three means many new homes that are built in our state are going to be out of date the first day that they are on the market.

But supporters say sometimes it isn't so bad to be behind the rest of the pack.

"Even if other states do it first, that's actually not a bad thing because we can use other states as our testing lab," said Hager.

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