Hart column: Code enforcers as consultants?

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 19, 2011

Rowan County provides a service available to any citizen that your tax dollars help to pay for.
If you were planning any kind of building, how would you like to tap into a pool of knowledge that can assist you in the planning and development of your project? How would you like to be able to have years of accumulated knowledge assisting you from the beginning of your idea all the way through the process?
I’m talking about the Rowan County Building Code Enforcement Department. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, a brain trust is a group of official or unofficial advisers concerned especially with planning and strategy. Here at the Building Code Enforcement Department , sometimes called the Inspections Department, our people have more than 100 years of combined building inspections experience.
In addition to that, we have licensed general contractors, plumbing, electrical and heating and air (mechanical) contractors. Think of us as a resource. Think of us as your resource.
It won’t cost you a dime to call us and ask a question or bring by a sketch of something you want to build. We offer this service to individuals, contractors, engineers, architects and even town managers. Before you break ground or spend any money, give us a call and set up a consultation. We can look your project over and offer advice. There may be aspects you haven’t thought of that will wind up costing you time or money. A little up-front advice might be just what you need.
I get a lot of calls about wet crawl spaces. Generally, the people that call me are looking for an unbiased evaluation of their problem. They have already received one or two bids from basement water proofers, and they want to talk to someone else because they are having trouble justifying spending the amount of money they were quoted to solve their problem. Most of the time I believe there is another solution to what they were offered and for a lot less cost. This is only one example as to why giving us a call is a good idea.
Do you want to start a business or move your business into an old house? Are you thinking of turning your house into apartments or the corner convenience store into a church? If you answered yes to any of those questions, then give us a call and let one of our code consultants sit down with you and go over what you may encounter along the way.
If we can’t answer your question on some building code-related topic, we have resources that we can turn to. The N.C. Department of Insurance Office of the State Fire Marshal maintains its own brain trust. We can tap into that or any number of other licensing boards. There are also organizations that produce specifications and standards such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). One way or another, we can get your questions answered. So, next time, consider calling us as part of your planning and let us assist you.
Dana H. Hart is director of Rowan County Building Code Enforcement, located at 402 N. Main St. He can be reached at 704-216-8625.