The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly wants to make it easier for people to build their own homes on borough land without needing to go through so much bureaucracy.
Assemblyman Larry LeDoux and Assemblyman Kyle Crow both put forward ordinances that would remove certain engineering requirements for construction. At the assembly regular meeting last week, Crow pointed at what he considers excessive rules and regulations.
“This is an attempt to really do something about that and relax the requirements for a single family, owner-occupied residential structure. Many of us that have been around for a while, probably even some of the building inspectors and other people who are administering these codes right now, were able to build their houses when these codes weren’t so restrictive.”
At the regular meeting, the assembly viewed LeDoux’s original ordinance, attempting to remove the engineering requirement for building homes. It had been postponed from a regular meeting in February and another one earlier in May.
LeDoux explained Crow’s amendment comes after some struggle to change the code and would waive borough building codes for residential construction outside of Kodiak city limits. Crow himself explained his amendment would create more flexibility for home owners.
“Builders who want to opt out at their own liability may do so. The people who want to opt in and pay for the building inspection and to have their house built by contractors to code have the option of doing so, but that they would not be required to have an engineer review their plans.”
He said it would waive codes for every aspect of construction, including electrical and plumbing, and the house owner could meet code by hiring a certified electrician or plumber to provide that work.
Mayor Jerrol Friend pointed out that Kodiak Electric Association would refuse to hook a house up to electricity without a sticker from the building department saying the house meets code, and LeDoux said that’s just the status quo.
“To say Kodiak won’t do it unless the building inspector does it is just because that’s what we’ve operated with in Kodiak. If we had certified instructors, I suspect they would accept that also. It’s pretty clear what KEA wants in terms of their service, so I understand what you’re saying, but that’s just the way it is now.”
LeDoux also said he thinks most people would build their house according to code because it makes sense. He said they don’t have a problem with the code, but rather with the inspections, excessive cost, and excessive bureaucracy.
The assembly incorporated Crow’s exemption and then postponed the main ordinance on the floor. Doug Mathers, the city building official who also works with the borough to inspect buildings outside city limits, said the borough attorney received an altered ordinance on Friday and is giving it an editorial review.
He also said he’ll testify at the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly’s work session Thursday that he believes the existing construction requirements from the building department are sufficient.
Mathers provided an example of the permitting cost for a two-family dwelling with a value of $219,000.
“This is a reasonably sized duplex and the permit for that was $1,268 for that one, so they submit a set of plans and we review it to make sure that it conforms to the codes that are adopted and that alleviates a whole lot of trouble down the line if we know what to put it in and we’ve talked about it.”
He said the building department has striven over the years to maintain the same code inside and outside city limits, and the city doesn’t necessarily need to follow the borough’s lead on these changes.
Mathers says, if the ordinance passes at the borough’s next regular meeting, he’ll talk to the city council in early June about what it would like to do.