Building fees are going up in Durango, and they could go up in La Plata County as well in the new year.
When tallying up higher fees, more stringent regulations, increased payroll costs because of the a labor shortage and the price of land, it all adds up to greater costs for the consumer, said Lisa Laughlin, executive officer for the Home Builders Association of the Southwest.
Durango is adjusting the home-valuation standard used to determine building permit fees, up from about $98 to about $108 per square foot, said Alvie Moore chief building inspector. The city’s building permit schedule was last set in 2004, and it is low compared to other locations, he said.
The building-valuation standard was increased at the same time new building codes were adopted by the Durango City Council this month. The council adopted 2012 building codes and the 2009 energy codes.
All these codes are contributing to higher home prices, Laughlin said.
“Anything with the word ‘mandatory’ is going to add cost to construction,” she said.
But some residents have argued changes to the energy code will lower heating costs for consumers in the long term.
La Plata County staff members are also working on changes to the building codes and permit fees in the first quarter of the new year, said Butch Knowlton, the county’s building department director.
Currently, the county charges 70 cents per-square-foot for the average home and $1.40 per-square-foot for a complex home, and that may be going up, he said.
Right now, the county is considering adopting 2015 building codes and the 2009 energy codes.
The debate is still ongoing about whether the county will require sprinkler systems in homes to help suppress fires.
La Plata County fire departments have proposed requiring them only in homes larger than 3,600 square feet because the departments cannot provide sufficient water with trucks to fight fires in homes larger than that, said Karola Hanks, fire marshal for the Durango Fire Protection District.
However, Laughlin argues a sprinkler system could add $15,000 to $20,000 to the price of a home and make home ownership even tougher.
“It shouldn’t be mandatory,” Laughlin said.