The Senate today (October 17) approved a measure introduced by Senator Dan Laughlin (R-Erie) that will better protect consumers from unreasonably excessive building inspection fees and unnecessary construction costs.
Under the Pennsylvania Uniform Construction Code (UCC), municipalities can handle inspections with their own employees, enter into a joint agreement with other municipalities, or hire a third-party agency to administer their inspection program. This system, Senator Laughlin said, gives companies a virtual monopoly that allows them to charge excessive fees or demand unneeded work that ultimately end up being passed on to consumers.
Senate Bill 663 amends the UCC act to eliminate the monopoly by requiring municipalities to contract with at least three third-party agencies to handle building inspections. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
“This bill addresses the problems that have arisen when municipalities have contracted with a single company to handle its building code inspections. I have a fairly good understanding of the construction industry and I know there can be serious and costly issues when contractors are forced by a monopolized market to deal with the way a single company interprets the UCC. That goes beyond the intent of the law and gives those inspectors too much control over how builders do their job,” Senator Laughlin said. “Senate Bill 663 breaks the monopoly. It will increase competition and ensure that residents receive the opportunity to have inspections completed in a reasonably priced and competitive manner.”