Local News

New Rules Mandate Professional Help In Wake Home Projects

Posted September 29, 2006

— Some home improvement projects in parts of Wake County are about to get more expensive. The county passed a new ordinance that will cost builders more before they even begin.

Site plans submitted to the county by homeowners are often hand-drawn and not to scale. County leaders said that planning staff has spent a lot of time doing the legwork for homeowners to begin their home improvement projects.

Now, the county requires a licensed professional -- a surveyor or engineer, for example -- to do the work.

"The goal is to have more accountability by having a licensed professional doing the plan," said Reginald Goodson with the Land Development Administration.

The regulation is for projects over 400 square feet in unincorporated areas of Wake County. However, the co-owner of Rising Sun Pools and Spas, Mike Vassallo, said everyone is being punished for the incomplete work of a few.

"The county is going from one extreme to another," Vassallo said.

A new deck or new pool will now cost $400 to $700 more, and possibly even more if the plan isn't approved on the first round.

"All these costs are going to be passed directly to the homeowner," said Vassallo.

The county doesn't expect the cost to go much higher because the work will likely be done right the first time. Homebuilders are also concerned because under the new county rules, they can't do the work.

"In this case, with our general contractors being licensed professionals, we don't think we need to add another layer to the process," said Tim Minton with the Wake County Home Builders Association.

Opponents said the purpose of the new rules is being negated by no system of checks and balances. The county has no plans to inspect every property and make sure the project was built in the planned place. Leaders said they'd do random checks because of limited staff.

The county was supposed to start enforcing the rules Oct. 1, but after WRAL asked about the concerns, the enforcement is on hold. Also, the county will now consider general contractors as part of the approved professional list.

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