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County building codes getting an update

Structures in Pearl River County will be held to higher standards with implementation of county wide building codes adopted by the board of supervisors in April.

The codes Pearl River County adopted were the International codes of 2003, said Chief Building Inspector for Pearl River County Kirk Pichon. Adopting codes from 2006 will be down the road.

“It’s just a matter of looking through them to make sure we are ready for the 2006 codes,” Pichon said.

Building codes are updated every three years to keep up with advancements in building materials and techniques as they are employed, Pichon said. Pichon is one of five Master Building Inspectors in the state and one of 435 in the United States.

More people will need to be hired before the Department of Building Safety in the Planning and Development office is fully staffed. There are four residential combination inspectors positions to fill, who will inspect buildings, mechanical, electrical and plumbing in structures, Pichon said. Those inspectors will need to be certified within a year of hiring, Pichon said. Training and the first exam for the inspectors will be paid for by the department, Pichon said.

In addition one plans examiner, two permit clerks and one department building inspector will be needed, Pichon said.

Building codes are important because they make for better built homes of better quality, Pichon said.

Dan Beavers of the Planning and Development Office said for every dollar spent meeting building codes, structure owners save four dollars in repair costs.

Another positive aspect of the implementation of building codes will be lower insurance rates, Beavers said.

After the first year of code implementation the Department of Planning and Development Building Division will audit the Department of Building Safety to give them a rating between one and 10, one being the best, Beavers said.

If the audit goes well insurance rates will go down, Beavers said.

Current buildings will not be required to adhere to the codes, Pichon said.

“We are here to work with everybody, not here to shut anybody down or put them out of business,” Pichon said.

The only time an old building will need to come up to code is if they plan to add to or renovate the existing building, Pichon said. However if building inspectors find violations such as unsanitary conditions improper lighting, improper ventilation or lack of smoke detectors those violations will need to be rectified before permits are issued, Pichon said.