The city of Rainsville held a public hearing Thursday to hear feedback from residents and builders about the introduction of a city building inspector.
More than a dozen people came to the council chambers and at 6 p.m. Mayor Rodger Lingerfelt opened the floor for discussion from local builders first on their opinions.
Lebron Whiteside spoke first, saying he thought it is a good idea to have a mandated inspecting process to protect the younger generations in the community.
“The young adults today went to college and got office jobs,” Whiteside said. “They don’t know nothing about building. I think it’s in our best interests to protect those people. Us older generation, we know something about building so we know what we’re getting.”
Ashlee Vaughn, DeKalb County Association of Realtors president, said a three-point inspection during the construction of a building or home will be an extra layer of protection for buyers and owners.
“We’ll have a greater confidence in the product that we’re selling and having inspections allow us to better serve the consumer by getting them the documents they require to secure their loans,” she said.
Vaughn went on the say the three-step inspection process is being implemented by several builders already, they just want to see it implemented to everyone.
Mitchell Kilgore asked if builders would be required to use an inspector provided by the city of Rainsville or they will still be allowed to use the inspectors they would normally use that are licensed with the state.
Lingerfelt said that part of the discussion had not been determined yet, but it will more than likely be a contracted employee, much like the city’s attorney.
“If we hire somebody or contract somebody, we’d just use ours,” Lingerfelt said. “If we open it up and do something different then it’ll be like you could use somebody else, but for us to be able to control this, it may wind up being somebody that works for us.”
Kilgore said he had no problem with the concept of the city requiring a three-phase inspection, he just wondered who builders would have to use as an inspector.
Lingerfelt said the city had not hired anyone yet or contracted anyone, but they had been approached by someone willing to take on the inspections, which started the discussions.
Another point of discussion was the city’s liability if they were to employ someone themselves. Lingerfelt said if they are a contracted employee, the liability would fall on the inspector.
Councilman Randy Bynum said he would only support the process if it was on a contracted basis and “leaves the city out of it.”
Randy Wilson of Wilson Realty, addressed the council and suggested the city accept inspections from any licensed inspector, rather than require a separate inspection for the city’s records. He also said the city could offer an approved list of local inspectors, but he thought it would be redundant for builders to be required to have more than one inspection and it would get the city out of the “pricing business.”
Dallas Burt asked how “accessible” the inspector would be to local builders. He said the ones in neighboring towns and the ones he holds relationships with currently can be onsite to inspect a structure within an hour or two. He hoped with whatever decision is made that the inspectors would be accessible enough for the amount needed in Rainsville.
Rainsville Revenue and Zoning Officer Matt Crum said many valid points were brought up during the discussions.
“That’s why we wanted to have this was to get the opinions of the people that we are here to protect,” Crum said.
Crum said the reason he started looking into the inspector discussions was because he is the one who issues the building permits and Certificates of Occupancy to builders and homeowners.
“The city doesn’t do inspections, so if I sign a Certificate of Occupancy and give it to these people without any inspection, the liability at that time would fall on [the city.]”
Crum said he does ask for an inspection before he signs or issues documents, but he would like to see the city more involved in each step of the building process.
“A lot of these inspections are final inspections,” he said. “I don’t get a lot of three-phase inspections.”
He said it would make him feel more comfortable if the city had an established, on-contract inspector that did the multi-phase inspections on commercial and non-commercial structures.
“Something else that it gives me, because that’s what you hired me to do as a zoning and revenue officer, it gives me teeth to enforce the ordinances that we have,” Crum said. “Right now, if all we expect is somebody to bring me inspections, but they’re not done in a timely manner, somebody could have a house framed in before a foundation inspection is even done and we wouldn’t know.”
No action was taken in the meeting Thursday, as the mayor reiterated that it was only held to get the opinions of the residents and builders of Rainsville before the city council was to make a decision; however, he did say after seeing the positive responses from residents, the city will move forward with its plans to be more involved in the inspection process.