Home Builders Association of Michigan identifies discrepancies in governor’s housing goals and LARA’s proposed building code changes

In a recent release, The Home Builders Association of Michigan (HBAM) identified discrepancies between Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s housing goals and building code changes proposed by the state’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). 

Whitmer recently unveiled her plan to invest some $1.4 billion in much-needed housing across the state. However, LARA’s proposed code changes, which include mandatory sprinkler requirements in all new homes and other costly changes, will raise the cost of building a typical Michigan home by more than $20,000, according to HBAM.

HBAM explained in its release that LARA’s proposed changes will price-out some 100,000 families (or more) from being able to afford a home in Michigan and reduce overall housing production.

As currently drafted, LARA will require new residential homes (and most renovated homes) to have 2 X 6 framing, R-60 insulation in ceilings, inch thick exterior sheathing, mandatory fire suppression systems (sprinklers inside homes) and arc fault circuit interrupters in every room, among other costly measures.

“For every $1,000 increase in the cost of a home in our state, nearly 5,000 households are priced out of being able to afford one,” HBAM CEO Bob Filka stated in the release. “If not altered, the state’s proposed code changes will price-out more than 100,000 additional Michigan families. These proposed changes need to be modified and can be, while achieving similar goals at far less cost.”

With high interest rates and a median home sales price approaching $450,000 or more in some areas, many Michiganders have already been priced out of the housing marketplace. Filka highlighted that builders are not opposed to improving state building codes.

“HBAM has offered an alternative proposal to the state that would result in similar energy efficiency improvements at 1/3 of the cost of LARA’s proposal, by removing manufacturer-driven proscriptive requirements and providing more options and flexibility for builders. In terms of ensuring citizens are protected from needless fire fatalities, neither sprinklers nor arc fault circuit interrupters will save lives. Research shows that properly functioning smoke detectors are the key to fire safety in homes. Requiring sprinklers in all new homes will not. To the contrary, it will make new housing more expensive and keep or push people into older substandard housing that is more susceptible to fire. Virtually every state in the country has rejected the idea that sprinklers should be required for residential homes. Michigan should too! We have been a partner with the Whitmer Administration in pursuing many new efforts to increase attainable housing production across the state. That positive momentum will be lost if we don’t balance the cost of new building code standards with housing attainability.”

Read the Home Builders Association of Michigan release in its entirety, here.