LOCAL NEWS

Battle brewing between Utah builders, cities over home inspections

Feb 27, 2024, 9:26 PM | Updated: Feb 28, 2024, 3:23 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — A fight is brewing on Utah’s Capitol Hill between home builders and cities.

SB185, which passed the Senate this week and awaits a vote in the House of Representatives, could allow builders to pick their own inspectors.

Supporters say it’s a way to get home inspections done quicker and better, saving money in the process.

“Competition drives better customer service,” said Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, the bill’s sponsor.

Sen. Evan Vickers talks to KSL News on Friday. (Ray Boone, KSL News)

Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, talks to KSL News on Friday. (Ray Boone, KSL News)

But opponents argue it introduces a host of problems that could be dangerous for homebuyers.

“We feel like when the entity that’s being regulated picks their own regulator, that creates a potential conflict of interest that can undermine public safety,” said Cam Diehl, executive director of the Utah League of Cities and Towns.

Cam Diehl talks with KSL News about SB185 on Friday. (Ray Boone, KSL News)

Cam Diehl talks with KSL News about SB185 on Friday. (Ray Boone, KSL News)

Under the latest version of SB185, a builder in Utah could pick their own state-approved inspector – if a city doesn’t complete the inspection within three days.

“If the cities are looking at it correctly, they would say, well, if we do our work within three days, we’re fine,” said Vickers, “and if not, maybe we ought to step up our game.”

The Utah Home Builders Association believes the bill will get homes built quicker, thereby reducing costs caused by construction delays.

“Anytime in the market we see competition introduced, we see prices go down and quality go up,” said Ross Ford, the association’s executive vice president. “That’s all this does.”

Ross Ford talks with KSL News about SB185 Friday. (Ray Boone, KSL News)

Ross Ford talks with KSL News about SB185 Friday. (Ray Boone, KSL News)

But Diehl pointed out, most cities already inspect buildings within the time required by state law.

That makes Ken Leetham, North Salt Lake city manager, wonder why this proposal is even being pushed.

“I’m not sure that this bill really solves a problem,” Leetham said. “I think inspections are best done by cities. It’s our responsibility to do them.”

Ken Leetham discusses SB185 with KSL News on Friday. (Ray Boone, KSL News)

Ken Leetham discusses SB185 with KSL News on Friday. (Ray Boone, KSL News)

The bill passed the Utah Senate in a 17-9 vote Monday and now sits in the House. There are three days left in the legislative session.

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Battle brewing between Utah builders, cities over home inspections