The Home Builders Association of Alabama (HBAA) supported Senate Bill 40, which will prohibit the adoption or enforcement of specific building codes requiring the installation of certain latent, non-operable features in a residential structure. The bill was recently signed into law.
“Why should a new home buyer be asked to install a feature in their home that they may never use?” said Jason Reid, HBAA vice president of external affairs. “This serves only to drive up costs and reduce affordability.”
The leadership at HBAA identified several trends driving up housing costs due to the installation of latent features. Examples of latent features identified by HBAA include:
- Supplying a 220 circuit behind a gas stove, water heater or furnace in case a future owner wants to install an electric stove, heater or furnace;
- Installing additional framing to support solar panels if a future home owner wants to add a solar panels; and
- Installing electrical wiring in a new home if a future buyer wants an electric vehicle charging station, even if the initial buyer does not request one.
The HBAA estimated that by complying with latent features, the mandate would translate into adding to the cost of a newly constructed home. In discussions with lawmakers, HBAA members emphasized the importance of consumer choice over government mandates.
Another key point members shared with lawmakers was that latent features do not add immediate value to the home buyer and reduce new homes' affordability.
To ensure that the structural aspects of the code were not affected, the HBAA accepted a friendly amendment from the Alabama League of Municipalities to clarify that the life safety intent of the code remained.
“Builders face the challenges of providing affordable housing every day,” said Reid. “Supporting consumer choice over government mandates is a cornerstone to pushing back against the barriers to affordable housing.”