Anyone in unincorporated areas of Jackson County building a new home now needs to have inspections done.
County Building Commissioner Conner Barnette said he worked with Jackson County Commissioner Bob Gillaspy and some local contractors to draft a building ordinance and get it approved.
The ordinance, which was drafted from the Indiana Code, went into effect Friday.
Barnette said with Gillaspy also being a builder, he has been a big advocate for making residential inspections required.
“It was something that a lot of contractors in the county have actually wanted for a really long time,” Barnette said. “It has been something that we kind of beat around the bush for the last two and a half years since I’ve been here, and it was already in the works. Now, we’re finally just getting to the point where we’ve got our ordinance drafted and adopted and all of the details sorted out.”
Barnette said fees won’t increase because of the new ordinance. Since 2011, building permits have cost 8 cents per square foot of the home being constructed.
“We’re still one of the lowest fees in the surrounding counties, and they will not go up because of this,” he said.
After someone applies for a building permit, Barnette will give them a list of the four inspections: Footers, foundation, rough-in and final. When they are ready for each one, they will call Barnette, and he said he will go to the site within 24 hours.
Footers will be inspected once trenches or basement areas have been excavated and forms are erected or after the posts or piers are set prior to concrete.
The foundation will be inspected before any backfill, including reinforced steel, sill plates, anchor bolts and damp proofing.
Rough-in will be inspected after framing is completed. That includes framing, electrical, plumbing, energy efficiency and heating and ventilation before installation of insulation and wall coverings.
The final inspection of electrical and plumbing fixtures will be done after construction.
“A lot of the contractors around here, they’ve done this, at least in Seymour, if not Bartholomew County and a couple of other counties surrounding us,” Barnette said.
In the past, he said contractors and homeowners have contacted his office after the footers or foundation have been put in, and he went to check them out and sent them a PDF file.
Now, that will be required.
“Used to, we would just issue the permit, and you would roll and we never saw you again unless we needed to come out to inspect like whether or not it was in the floodplain or setbacks,” Barnette said. “Now, we’ll have those four inspections, and at the very end, we’ll issue you a certificate of occupancy, which is another thing we’ve never done before.”
He said it’s a benefit to the homeowners because it holds contractors liable.
“I think that applicants, the taxpayers, they’ve got kind of a second set of eyes on that stuff just to make sure things are being done right,” he said.
Barnette said it also will result in quality homes being built.
“It’s good for the county just to have that kind of quality homes,” he said. “Honestly, I hope that we don’t find anything and it’s just smooth sailing.”
Plumbers must have their state licensing number on file in Barnette’s office in the Jackson County Courthouse Annex in Brownstown, and electricians must be licensed by Prometric Inc.
To help prepare for the changes, Barnette said he shadowed Dave Neukam, Seymour’s building inspector, for about three months.
“I’m continuing to do that. Actually, probably after we start, I’ll hit a couple (inspections) with him just to get a better grasp of things,” Barnette said.
He also has took plumbing and electrical classes through the International Code Council in Lawrence in March.
“They hold classes up there at the fire department every couple of months on different stuff, and I’ll continue to go to those,” Barnette said.
As the inspections begin, he said he will continue to learn.
“It’s one of those things that will be touch and go at first, but once we get our feet underneath us and get a couple under our belt, it will just keep getting better,” Barnette said.
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To view the new county building ordinance and inspection requirements, visit jacksoncounty.in.gov and search for the planning and zoning office or facebook.com/jacksoncountyplanning.
For information, call 812-358-6109 or email [email protected].