OUR OPINION: Lee County needs codes to remain competitive

Lee is far from the only Mississippi county without various kinds of building codes (specific standards) in statute, but all property owners and builders outside Tupelo, which has codes meeting international standards as the state prescribes, would derive quantifiable benefit from the codes’ implementation.

“I think it’s something we need to do to protect our homeowners,” said Kenneth Estes, president of the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Northeast Mississippi. “Permits and codes ensure minimum codes are met.”

The association, as Michaela Morris reported in Wednesday’s Daily Journal, said it supports building codes as good for consumers.

“I think it’s something we need to do to protect our homeowners,” said Estes.

His words echo the informed opinion of Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney, a Tupelo native, who said after the April 28 tornado he credited more rigorous building codes used with properties in the city with proportionately less severe wind damage than non-building-code properties in unincorporated areas outside Tupelo’s city limits.

Chaney’s job includes encouraging in every reasonable way the implementation of laws and their enforcement to protect people and their property. His reach extends to fire protection, wind protection, hurricane protection – any force of nature that can test what people build to the point of breaking – and harm.

The Mississippi Building Codes Council’s versions of the International Building Code, International Residential Code or other codes cover electrical, plumbing, carpentry, fire and fuel gas.

It makes no sense for the governments of Tupelo and Lee County to differ on what’s required in the protections afforded by building codes.

It is correct that building properties to meet code and hiring inspectors to make sure the properties are being built to code comes with a cost. Codes also save lives, which are beyond priceless, and by making structures more resilient, which can be much less costly in a disaster. In addition, they protect homebuyers and can save them substantial money in the long run.

Lee County says officially it seeks to be fully competitive with all other Mississippi counties, but without codes in force, it is not.

DeSoto County, it is noteworthy in the context of its phenomenal growth, has in force the following building codes:

• International Building Code

• International Residential Code

• International Plumbing Code

• International Mechanical Code

• International Fuel Gas Code

• National Electric Code

All speak to quality of life, the value of all property, protection of human life, and uniformity in benefits derived by residence in DeSoto County.

Lee County can gain benefit in following DeSoto’s lead.