News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Turn Building Department gripe into a positive for city

It's time for Decatur to turn one of its long-standing gripes into something positive for the local housing industry and talk about the quality construction of new homes here.

The debate came up again recently when a local real estate agent mentioned that people in her profession continue to hear complaints against the Building Department.

"I consistently hear from builders that it's easier to build in any market that surrounds us than to build in Decatur," Mary Ann Scott said.

We all hear the same gripes. We've heard them for decades. So has Building Department Director Jimmy Brothers.

"I've never had anybody come into my office and say here is why specifically it's more difficult to build it here instead of over there," he said.

Not one to pull his punches, Mr. Brothers continued:

"Every one of these jurisdictions has the same building codes. If a builder can read the book and read what it says, and he can't go out there and do it, then who's got the problem?" he asked rhetorically.

The Building Department exists to protect homebuyers in the most expensive transaction most people will ever make. The department doesn't exist to make things easier for builders, though it needs to be accommodating.

Thus, when someone is considering buying a home here or in Madison, citing the toughness and thoroughness of the local Building Department should be a selling point.

The Building Department is not the reason more new homes don't go up here. But it does make sure those that are built here go up right.

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