Affordable Owner Occupied Housing Wins Governor’s Signature With Unanimous Bipartisan Legislative Support

Minnesota’s House, Senate, and Governor pulled together for affordable housing and delivered a new law to keep twin homes a viable part in the owner-occupied housing marketplace.

Many thanks to each of BAM’s members, the entire Legislature, the Administration and our partners at the Department of Labor and Industry, Rep. Theis (R-St. Cloud) and Sen. Draheim (R-Madison Lake), the chief authors of the sprinkler mandate rule making bill, Sen. Eken (DFL-Twin Valley) and Rep. Lien (DFL-Moorhead), and Governor Dayton for getting this over the finish line.

A thank you that some may find surprising, too, to the fire service for supporting the bill as amended and closely working with BAM to make sure there is conformity between the fire code and residential construction code as well as less confusion within the inspection and building communities on how to enforce the fire suppression system rules.

Known as Chapter 20 of Minnesota’s 2017 Session Laws, the bill as amended and signed into law does the following:

  • directs the Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) to do expedited rulemaking to amend the code to make sure twin homes are not included in the sprinkler mandate
  • conforms the existing residential code with the Court of Appeals decision
  • conforms the existing residential code with the existing fire code (the fire code defines town homes as 3 or more units)
  • provides a refined solution to the problem of conformity and confusion among regulators, inspectors, and builders
  • makes the new rule effective immediately upon publication (see footnote #1)

Footnote #1.  BAM is now working with DLI and the fire service to address the matter of enforcing the sprinkler mandate in twin homes between now and the effective date of the expedited rule. Industry members and the enforcement community will have direction on this matter in the very near future.

Footnote #2.  The signed law reflects the preferred solution among all stakeholders and continues the general position to not put construction code provisions into statute – a position historically supported by BAM.

As introduced the bill simply put into statute a definition of a town home to be 3 or more units (current rule is 2 or more thereby including “twin homes” in the sprinkler mandate) but is did not address the underlying conflict between the fire code and residential code nor did it serve to clean up the published rule to make it conform with the Court of Appeals decision to overturn a rule that mandated sprinklers in homes over 4,500 square feet.

Have a great day, everyone!  Remi


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