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Home Builders Association meets

Questions concerning building codes recently adopted by the county in months past were answered at the Pearl River County Home Builders Association meeting Tuesday.

The process of bringing building codes to the county was not prompted by Hurricane Katrina, the process started about 8 years ago, said Chief Building Inspector Kirk Pichon. Building code inspections began in the county on Aug. 1 of this year, but on a limited basis, Pichon said. While building codes do provide better homes, they do not make the process cheaper.

“It is going to increase the cost of building, I’m not going to lie to you and tell you it’s not,” Pichon said to the crowd of about 52 county builders who showed for the meeting.

The county has adopted the 2003 building codes and expects to adopt the 2006 building codes within a year, Pichon said. Currently builders are required to build homes to be able to withstand 130 mile per hour winds, but Pichon said he might be able to get the wind speed requirement to 120 for the southern part of the county and 110 for the very north end of the county.

One aspect of those wind speed requirements limit building high pitched roofs since they work like a wall and catch the wind, Pichon said.

When building a residential building each phase must now be inspected before moving on to the next, from the foundation to the framing and including electrical, mechanical and plumbing, Pichon said.

Building permit prices, issued from inspections, are based on square footage of the home being built. A home with 2,000 square feet of living space will cost about $691 for the permit, Pichon said. Additional inspections will be required for electrical, mechanical and plumbing. Electrical inspections are based on a flat fee, while mechanical inspections are based on a scale while plumbing inspections are based on the types of fixtures and water heater used, Pichon said.

Permits will also be required for any accessory buildings that exceed 200 square feet, Pichon said.

“Just about anything you do now requires a permit,” Pichon said.

Even if the building does not need a permit, it still needs to be built to code, Pichon said. The only buildings not affected by the building codes are agricultural buildings, which will require an affidavit stating the building’s intended use, Pichon said.

All new homes will also require a driveway before the structure is considered finished, Pichon said.

When the builder turns in plans to Pichon’s office the builder needs to state which of the several available building manuals were used in the planning process for filing, he said. Every building plan will be filed in Pichon’s office indefinitely, he said.

Inspections planned for the day will put foundations as a priority so as not to hold up the builders, Pichon said.

“We’re here to work with you, not against you at all,” Pichon said.

If there are additions to an existing building only the addition will be inspected but smoke detectors for the entire building will be inspected, Pichon said.

As mentioned in a previous Board of Supervisor’s meeting rough cut lumber, or lumber cut from a resident’s own yard, can be used for building only if it has been grade stamped by an official inspection company like the one in Hattiesburg, Pichon said. Details can be found at http://www.spib.org/certificateinspection.shtml?/lumberservices. Charges generally run between $350 to $650 to inspect enough lumber to build an average size home, Pichon said at that board meeting.

The adopted building codes will apply to the county and the city of Poplarville only. The City of Picayune has opted out of the county wide building codes and has decided to do their own thing, Pichon said.

“They’re real secretive about what they’re doing, they haven’t told us a whole lot,” Pichon said.

For added convenience a permitting office will be stationed in the south end of the county at the Church of the Way where other county offices are stationed temporarily.