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Address Unsafe Building Projects

By Staff | Apr 19, 2017

One of the pleasures of living in a small town is that municipal government doesn’t try to regulate as much of one’s life as often occurs in larger cities.

Take the building inspector system in effect in many communities. It requires any substantial alteration to a building to be checked for compliance with building codes. Contractors and even homeowners are required to obtain building permits. There is a charge for them, of course.

At the other end of the spectrum are small towns with no building code enforcement. That can be a problem when shoddy construction affects the safety of the public as well as that of the property owner and his or her family.

The issue came up during a Paden City Council meeting earlier this month. Council members heard a complaint about one house alleged to be a danger to children walking to and from school.

After a discussion about hiring a building inspector for the city, Mayor Joel Davis said he would contact the mayors of Sistersville and Middlebourne to discuss the possibility of the three communities sharing a building inspector.

Like so many other municipalities in our area, the three mentioned already have tight budgets. Just last month, Paden City Council approved an increase in municipal fees.

In all likelihood, even a shared building inspector would have to be funded by building permit fees.

Adding to the cost and aggravation of building a new home or improving an existing one ought to give municipal officials pause.

Still, the problem of unsafe and sometimes unhealthy construction projects needs to be addressed. Perhaps officials in local communities can come up with an alternative to a formal building inspector program, one less expensive and easier to bear for the vast majority of builders and do-it-yourselfers.