Commentary

printed 08/16/2019

When the Worcester County Commissioners put off adopting the latest version of the International Building Code, it wasn’t a manifestation of Eastern Shore stubbornness, or resentment at being told what to do by the state.

It was common sense dictated by this county’s circumstances — a shortage of truly affordable homes and a construction explosion in next door Sussex County, Delaware that’s drawing from Worcester’s traditional base.

Although building codes, plumbing codes, electric codes and fire codes are necessary to prevent corner cutting and shoddy workmanship, and to provide a certain level of safety, it always seems that every revision adds one more thing that makes building more difficult and more expensive.

At some point, the consumer, who is supposed to be the beneficiary of all these required precautions, has to ask if he or she is the only one being taken care of by these regulations.

Aren’t they also a little bit of a benefit to certain manufacturers who make the various code-required elements and maybe to the insurance companies that would rather not get beat up financially because of some construction frailty that could be corrected in the next revision?

Further, the governments that impose these standards should ask themselves whether it’s better for someone to have a fairly sturdy and safe home that he or she can afford than it is to have little or nothing at all.

The problem with codes, it would seem, is they’re written by and for people who can afford homes that meet their standards. As for everyone else, it’s a matter of it being better safe than sorry: If you can’t afford to be safe, well then, we’re sorry.

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