Minnesota’s newsletter for the building industry

Preserving Housing: A Best Practices Review
by Jody Hauer, Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor

Building officials and housing
inspectors are involved in many strategies available to cities interested in preserving housing. Remodeling, rehabilitating, and repairing housing is important because, besides offering shelter, quality housing stimulates neighborhood vitality, adds to economic development, and sustains local tax bases. In the report Preserving Housing: A Best Practices Review, the Legislative Auditor’s Office describes best practices for local governments involved in preserving housing stock. Before implementing any housing strategy, cities have to take a number of preliminary steps, such as determining their housing needs and setting housing goals. Following that, cities have to select whatever strategies best help them meet their housing goals. Possible strategies include having: • property maintenance codes, • rental-unit inspection programs, • time-of-sale home inspections, • proper administration of the State Building Code, • housing-improvement information and expertise, and • financial subsidies to leverage private investments. Best practices are tied to each of these housing strategies. A few of those most relevant to building officials are summarized on following pages.
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The implementation of
the new building code has gone quite smoothly in large part due to the extensive participation by building officials and industry representatives in committee meetings and training seminars conducted over many months. While things have gone relatively smoothly, the Division issued two technical opinions in June in response to questions regarding the new code. The following interpretations were mailed to all building officials and are posted on our website: 1. Applying the International Residential Code and International Building Code to Residential Construction.
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651.296.4639 • FAX: 651.297.1973 • TTY: (1-800) 627.3529 WWW.BUILDINGCODES.ADMIN.STATE.MN.US

In This Issue – Click on red text for links to more info. u State Building Code u Members sought: - State Appeals Bd u Discipline Rule Memo - Manufactured u CCAC Sunsets Structures u NEW Mechanical Bond Committee Requirement


From the BCSD Directors continued from Page 1

2. R-2/U Mixed Occupancy Buildings Technical opinions of this type are generated by the BCSD Interpretations Committee who review questions that merit a more extensive review than a quick response given by a Division staff representative. Opinions issued by the committee are distributed to all Building Officials to assist them in their code administration responsibilities. Further, these opinions will be referred to future rule advisory committees for consideration of code amendments if appropriate. This committee is currently in the process of reviewing all past BCSD notices posted on our website and updated. Obsoleted notices will be kept accessible for historical reference.

Board. This will allow jurisdictions to decide whether to form a local board or use the State Appeals Board. Information will be posted on our website as it becomes available. In the meantime, the board is seeking members to represent all interests in the building industry. If you are interested, read the State Appeals Board seeks candidates bulletin posted in the What’s New section of the BCSD website and contact Scott McLellan at scott.mclellan@state. or 651.297.1658 if you are interested or have questions regarding the board.

Finally, as we continue to expand the use of our website to distribute information, we want to ensure it is both user-friendly and a valuable resource for information. The website is currently being redesigned and we would value The State Appeals Board is in the final stages your feedback and suggestions of what you of organization and will soon be a new resource would like to see posted there. Contact Jane for addressing issues that have not been Schmidley, our website manager at 651-296resolved on a local level. If a local jurisdiction 6204 or with your does not have a local appeals panel, the suggestions or use a WEBSITE COMMENT form. issue may be appealed to the State Appeals

Sunset of the Construction Codes Advisory Council
The Construction Codes Advisory Council sunset on June 30, 2003 pursuant to Minnesota Statute 16B.76, Subdivision 1(c) because the legislation seeking an extension did not make it past the House floor last session. In addition, a recommendation to extend the CCAC was removed from the Department of Administration’s Housekeeping Bill. Although the possibility of sunset always existed, it was a surprising late session development. Nevertheless, the council isn’t wasting time speculating its demise. Instead, it is taking care in dismantling to ensure its accomplishments move ahead in other forums: - The first order of business was to thank the many committee members, individuals representing many aspects of building industry, for their commitment. Members have been encouraged to continue their participation in other state policy-making and advisory committees. The state agencies involved in the CCAC do not want to lose the industry interest and involvement that has been developed through the CCAC. (An ironic footnote is that whereas funding is frequently noted as a reason to disband committees, the CCAC incurred very few expenses, even per diems were rarely requested.) - The TAGs (Technical Advisory Groups) These teams were the most successful aspect of the CCAC. The TAGs allowed subcommittees to tackle very specific topics and make policy recommendations focused on the safety of building users in Minnesota. The research and recommendations of these subcommittees will be passed on to other organizations. - Finally, members will make a concerted effort to communicate with the governor’s office and express their concerns that communications with the legislature must extend beyond lobbying groups and include forums for discussion such as was offered by the CCAC.


Preserving Housing: A Best Practices Review
Best Practice: Publicize Building-Code Requirements How building officials administer the State Building Code can affect housing preservation. Because some people perceive building codes as a disincentive to undertaking work on existing buildings, local governments that have adopted the State Building Code should administer it in ways that support housing improvements. One way to do this is to promote awareness of the building code by publicizing its requirements. For example, building officials can make available handouts that, among other things, (1) clarify what inspections are required and when they will be conducted or (2) outline which documents the contractor or owner should submit to receive a permit. Most of the building officials we surveyed for this study indicated they had handouts available to help homeowners or contractors with the code’s requirements. Faribault is one of many cities offering a variety of handouts, some produced in-house and others developed by building officials elsewhere. Contractor seminars are another means of publicizing code requirements. As an example, for the past four years, the Melrose building official has offered a daylong seminar in January that attracts 80 to 100 contractors from around the region. The focus is on particular code provisions, and staff from the Minnesota

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Department of Administration’s Building Codes and Standards Division may teach part of the class. Because the seminars are accredited, contractors receive professional education credits for attending. Besides providing information that contractors need to know, the seminars help reduce the number of recurring questions the building official must deal with as he conducts inspections from city to city. Best Practice: Make Building-Permit Applications Convenient Simplifying the application for building permits is another best practice. One example of making the permit process convenient is St. Paul’s “Contractor Express” a web-based application. Contractors may use the Internet to apply and pay for permits for reroofing, residing, or other projects that do not require a plan review or structural work. Contractors avoid a trip to the building department and can use their own computers to print the permit for posting at the job site. Best Practice: Consider Building-Code Compliance Alternatives Building officials should consider building-code compliance alternatives to encourage work on existing housing. The State Building Code allows modifications to code requirements for individual cases under certain conditions, such as when following the strict letter of the code is impractical and the modification complies with the intent and purpose of the code. Considering modifications is intended to achieve code compliance and is particularly important in communities with a large proportion of older housing units.
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Building Officials: The BCSD State Fair Exhibit schedule is filling up - call today and schedule your time!



MECHANICAL COMPLIANCE BOND AND FILING FORM The link above will take you to the cover letter and form regarding the Mechanical Compliance Bond and Filing Form that took effect July 1, 2003. VALUATION DATA Traditionally, the Building Codes and Standards Division provided the Building Valuation Data, produced by ICBO and modified for Minnesota Building Officials to use to determine building permit fees. Since ICBO, SBCCI and BOCA merged to create the ICC, ICBO no longer produces the Data. The ICC informed the division that the ICC will produce “consolidated” data by the end of this year. The division will provide the new Data, modified for Minnesota Building Officials, when the consolidated Data is available.
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Preserving Housing: A Best Practices Review
Best Practice: Encourage Voluntary Compliance With Local Codes One of the housing strategies that communities may choose is adopting local codes that set standards for maintaining residential properties. Encouraging voluntary compliance with these housing-related codes is a best practice that minimizes resources needed for enforcement. As one example, Mounds View took steps to encourage compliance with maintenance standards the city had adopted for rental properties containing two or more units. With an annual mailing to property owners notifying them of upcoming inspections, Mounds View’s inspector now includes a list of common maintenance-code violations— items like inoperable smoke detectors and improper clearance to electrical equipment. The list allows owners to fix problems prior to inspections, reducing the number of deficiencies as well as staff time for reinspections. Best Practice: Ensure Consistent Enforcement Ensuring consistent enforcement of the local codes is another best practice. Consistency helps inspectors avoid charges of discrimination or arbitrariness. There are several ways to achieve this, including adopting policies and procedures for enforcing the code, as well as documenting under what circumstances it is permissible for inspectors to deviate from the procedures. Another way is standardizing inspection checklists. For example, when

Cottage Grove began its rental-inspection program, the building official developed an inspection checklist. The checklist contains 64 items, such as foundation drainage and venting of plumbing fixtures, and is useful in producing consistent inspections from building to building. Best Practice: Adopt a Series of Enforcement Mechanisms Adopting a series of enforcement mechanisms for local codes is also a best practice. With a set of increasingly severe sanctions, code officers have enforcement tools to fit various situations; plus, property owners have an incentive to conform early to requirements. Bemidji uses a series of enforcement steps for its rental-registration program. The city charges fees to cover the first and second inspection, but building owners must pay for each re-inspection required due to uncorrected problems. Additional steps are letters from the city attorney, police citations, and registration revocations. The most serious sanction is property condemnations, though the city rarely uses it because condemning property seldom achieves the desired outcome of an improved building. Obtaining the Report The report Preserving Housing: A Best Practices Review contains many other housing strategies and best practices. View the report’s web page to read the full report as well as supplementary materials and links not found in the paper version of the report. Readers may also contact the Legislative Auditor’s Office (651-2964708) for a paper copy.


Manufactured Homes Advisory Committee
Next Meeting: September 25, 2003 at 1:00 p.m., Minnesota Building Codes and Standards office, call for directions, 651-296-4639 or use the map link. Priority topics for the next meeting: 1. Discussion of the “2Draft” of the Federal installation standard and its use in Chapter 1350. 2. Continued review of the 24-Item Checklist Future use, changes, and what to name it. 3. Possible ramificaitons of changes to: - Minnesota Statutes 327.31-.35. - 327C.07 the Safety feature Disclosure forms. 4. Licensing and bonding of sales people. Topics covered at the two previous meetings: 1. Housing Act of 2000 MHAC is reviewing Minnesota state laws and rules and will make recommendations for changes to parallel the Housing Act of 2000 passed by Congress and signed into law by the President. The Act requires that states bring their laws and rules for installation standards and dispute resolution into line by 2005. 2. HUD Consensus Committee Updates At each meeting Randy Vogt provides updates on issues being reviewed on at the national level which include programs to certify installers, creating a protocol to test anchoring equipment, and setting minimum requirements for states for dispute resolution. Topics covered at the last two meetings include: - Review and prepare Comment Requests regarding CFR 3285 which deals with the installation program – training and licensing and CFR 3286 deals with dispute resolution. - HUD is looking at having DAPIA’s review and approve items for onsite completion as a part of the production line process and not a part of the AC process. Committee member participation sought from county and municipal, lending, and citizen organizations. If anyone is aware of someone that could and would represent any of these three areas they can get an application from the Minnesota Building Codes website: If you have questions regarding the MHAC committee, contact Randy Vogt, or 651-296-9927. Current Committee Members: Licensed Installer Representatives
• • • • • • • Scott Lund, Rite-way Mobile Home Repair, Inc Duane Sanow, Sanow & Helle, Inc. Larry Hesse, Creative Housing, Inc. Michael Ives, Mike Ives Realty David Lindberg, Woodlund Homes David Johnson, The Homark Company, Inc. Joel Buller, HBOS Manufacturing, LP/ Schult Homes

Licensed Dealer/Retailer Representatives

Licensed General Contractor Representative Licensed Manufacturers Representatives

Minnesota Manufactured Housing Association Representative
• • • Mark Brunner, MMHA Ken Kammereer, City of Redwood Falls Loren Kohnen, Metro West Inspection Service

Municipal Building Officials Representaives

Minnesota Department of Commerce Representative
• Charles Durenberger, Contractor Licensing Investigation Supervisor

League of Minnesota Cities Representative
• Laura Offerdahl

MN Department of Administration, Building Codes Division Representatives
• • • Randy Vogt, Building Codes Representative Duane Delonais, Building Codes Representative Jeff Murray, Building Codes Representative (new BCSD employee)



Congratulations to the state’s recently designated Building Officials:

Of Special Note At BCSD
q We are sad to announce that Tim Manz (Education/Certification) has left BCSD. He will continue his state employment at the University of Minnesota. q Please join us in welcoming our two new employees: Jeff Murray, Manufactured Structures Jim Weaver, Elevator Safety q Don Sivigny (Education/Certification) just returned from the 2003 National Workshop on State Building Energy Codes. He was joined by representatives of Energy Code Grant Cities: • Joe Ryan, Plymouth • Lynn Timm, Alexandria • Bob Baumann, Northwest Service Coop Over 50 presenters covered topics including all aspects of energy code, model code, and special seminars on moisture control, beyond compliance buildings, energy-efficient windows, and web-based training. q Jeff Conner (BCSD Accounting) was awarded the Association of Government Accountants Minneapolis/St.Paul Chapter Chapter Service Award 2002-2003. Jeff is Education Committee Chairperson for the Mpls/St.Paul Chapter AGA as well as the North Central Regional Education Coordinator for AGA. He has planned 2 seminars this year, one on the Ethics in Gambling Enforcement and Ethics in Procurement/Purchasing and Contracts. Rich Lockrem, Peter Kulczyk, Mike Fricke, and Don Sivigny received a special commendation from the Builders Association of Minnesota. “We would like to thank you for all your time and commitment to the building industry over the last year... you have set the bar of excellence for all of our industry professionals.”
P Pamela Perri Weaver, Executive Vice President, Builders Association of Minnesota

• Kevin White – Columbia Heights • Jim Schneider – Chisago County • Roger Wilet – Anoka • Steve Thorp – Harris • Wayne Stonelake – Stockholm Township • Jerold Sweeney – Chisago City • Paul Waldron – South Haven • Paul Waldron – Maple Lake • Mavin Cromwell – Brandon

Officials from Russia and Kazakhstan recently visited with representatives of the Building Codes and Standards Division to discuss energy issues in construction.

Foreign Guests and BCSD Share Building Interests and Information
Don Sivigny presented with each guest with a Honorary Limited Building Official Certificate after they participated in a condensed Limited Building Official training program.

Don Sivigny, senior building code representative and energy specialist at BCSD, coordinated the May 12 visit by Yurij A. Matrosov, chief of the laboratory of energy normalization and new technologies and minister of economic trade for the Republic of Kazakhstan.

In addition to a three-hour presentation by Sivigny on the state energy code and its adoption, implementation and enforcement, the visit included a tour of a construction site in Woodbury to see how the code is administered at the local level, a stop at the Department of Commerce Energy Office for a two-hour q presentation on wind energy, and a tour of the Department of Transportation test facility in Monticello. Mr Baymishev is also responsible for upgrading the highway system in Kazakhstan, which experiences weather similar to that in Minnesota. “This was a big success for all involved,” Sivigny said. “The language barrier was a challenge at times, but that didn’t stop any of us from learning a lot more about our common interest in energy-efficient buildings.”