Building Codes

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Building codes gain traction in county

By Billy Davis
Discussion of building codes spilled into a second week after Panola County supervisors voted at their November 3 meeting to pursue adopting a set of codes in unincorporated Panola County.

Following up on a brief discussion last week, supervisors yesterday reviewed and compared the cost of building code fees in Batesville and neighboring counties Tate and Tunica.

Supervisors received the figures from Field Dew, an employee with the Miss. Department of Health, who has cooperated with the land commission for several years. Dew also attends the supervisors meetings and on Monday showed supervisors a fee estimate if Panola County figures mirror neighbor Tate.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

According to the Tate fee chart, the county charges $340 for a 1,000-square-foot home and the cost rises for each additional 100 square feet. A permit for a 2,000-square-foot home costs $540, the chart shows.

While supervisors must decide specifics about the inspection process, the fee figures are important, too, since supervisors hope the permit fees will supplement the pay for a building inspector.

Dew estimated that 95 new homes are built a year in Panola County with an average square footage of 1,300 feet. He then used Tate County’s fee charge, then its mileage fee and average number of visits, to reach an average cost of $310.80 per permit.

At that cost, Dew’s average shows Panola County would expect to receive an average of $29,486 in building fees annually.

The topic of building codes, if it creates controversy in the county, is not new: supervisors have said for a year that they would consider building codes. With the vocal support of supervisors, the county land development commission pursued the issue and made its formal recommendation late this summer.

The issue is now likely to bounce back and forth between both public bodies as specific details are nailed down.

Building codes are used most often in municipalities to ensure that residential and commercial construction is built to minimum standards. Many Mississippi counties do not require building codes, but some Panola neighbors, such as Tunica and Tate, are operating with building code requirements.

Without any codes in place, new homeowners are often at the mercy of homebuilders’ assurances of quality workmanship.

Building inspections follow the International Building Code to inspect a home’s foundation, framing, plumbing and electrical work.

Some Supervisors said Monday they planned to attend the land commission’s Monday evening meeting to discuss the issue further.