MS adopts statewide building code, but some communities may opt-out

Published: Apr. 3, 2014 at 3:57 PM CDT
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HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The building codes that South Mississippi now follows will soon be enforced statewide. Governor Bryant signed Senate bill 23-78 into law Wednesday, and many coast building officials are calling the new legislation a win/win.

Building department leaders say it's all about saving lives and minimizing storm damage.

A house nearing its final stages of construction in Diamondhead and a new business being built on the beach in Old Town Bay St. Louis were both built to international building code standards. It's the same standards communities all across the state will now be required to adopt and follow.

"The building codes that we adopt are minimum. I mean, these are the minimum requirements to make a building safe. You don't want anything less than that. They're not asking you to put gold on the door knobs, they're just asking you to make the building safe," said Building Official Bill Carrigee.

Carrigee is also a construction consultant who teaches contractors and building officials about the latest building codes. He says South Mississippi is ahead of the game. Most coast communities adopted a form of the international building code after Hurricane Katrina.

"Which was good, it was needed and allowed for the fact that what we built back after Katrina was built back better, safer, stronger," said David Treutel Jr., Former Vice President of the Mississippi Insurance Windpool.

Diamondhead Building Official Ronald Jones said, "I think it's a win/win for the state of Mississippi. If you look at the nation, other states have already adopted a statewide building code."

Building officials say it's a move that will save lives, properties and could lead to economic benefits for the state.

Insurance companies offer financial breaks to communities that build to code.

"I think this is going to project us, project Mississippi in a much better eye when it comes to insurance companies and hopefully attract more insurance companies to be willing to write in the state because they look at the whole state and not in just one geographical area," explained Treutel.

The building code law takes effect August first. The bill signed by the governor included a provision to opt out. Communities against adopting building codes will have 120 days to pass a resolution letting the state know it doesn't intend to follow the measure.

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