Stricter building codes coming

August 31, 2006
By Theresa Schmidt

New requirements are in place and more are coming to make sure new buildings in 11 parishes including Calcasieu are more resistant to hurricane force winds. The jury's staff will have to help enforce the requirements. All the details are not yet final and will get oversight from the state legislature. For homeowners new requirements may add from three to fifteen per cent to the cost of building a home.

Yet, State Representative Ronnie Johns, who's also in the insurance business, predicts it will be good for consumers in the long run. "We're doing the people of our state a real favor in going to this. In the long run, I think they're going to be happy." Johns and other lawmakers toured Punta Gorda,  Florida in 2004 where they saw first hand the difference stricter codes have made. "Pre-code neighborhoods that were just absolutely totally devastated, homes that were total losses-- and one block away to stand in the driveway of a brand, new neighborhood built under the new codes and there was very, very minor damage done to these homes."

He says more secure buildings will help with the problem of insurance availability. "It is the number one issue in Louisiana right now is the availability of insurance. Not affordability, availability."

A representative of the Louisiana Uniform Construction Code Council explained some of the issues to Calcasieu Police Jurors, yet Juror Sandy Treme told the man they seem too eager to impose new requirements. "You all seem too excited about this. I mean, it looks like to me like you just can't wait to start putting more on the people. I mean it's like an adrenaline rush. It gives me hot flashes."

Some police jurors like Chris Landry agree stricter codes will be good in the long run.  Says Landry, "That's something that's going to protect consumers. There's a lot of shoddy workmanship that's going on. You have these out of town contractors coming in, I mean there are no inspections and they're taking advantage of people."

Legislative hearings are planned in September to help address building code requirements. Parish officials are developing information to give to the public to explain some of the changes and answer questions. We'll let you know when it's available.