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Home builders oppose mandate of indoor sprinklers

The Builders Association of Minnesota (BAM) and Vikingland Builders Association (VBA), along with other business groups, oppose what they say is a “costly and unnecessary” home indoor sprinkler mandate.

The mandate was included in the draft Minnesota Building Code released Monday by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI).

It would require indoor sprinklers to be placed in all new single-family homes that are 4,500 square feet and larger, including basements and other unfinished spaces.

VBA leaders said the proposal would negatively impact consumers and the housing industry.

In 2011 and 2012, a bipartisan majority of legislators passed and sent bills to Governor Dayton to remove the mandate from the code. Both bills were vetoed.

VBA leaders cited a Minnesota state survey that showed 86 percent of Minnesotans believe indoor sprinklers should remain a homeowner’s choice.

The VBA added that DLI’s Residential Code Advisory Committee voted twice to remove the sprinkler mandate from the state building code but its decision was not incorporated in the draft code.

“This is unnecessary government overreach, plain and simple,” said BAM President Chad Kompelien. “Minnesota’s homes are among the safest in the country, and the public, the Legislature, and industry experts have all spoken loud and clear. They don’t want this mandate. New homes built under today’s code are exceptionally safe, and homeowners should not be burdened by a redundant, costly and unnecessary mandate.”

BAM estimates an indoor sprinkler system mandate would increase the cost of a new four-bedroom, three-bathroom home by at least $9,000. For homes on a private well, as many are across the state, the added cost can be as high as $13,000 or more when factoring in the cost of wells and water pumps, BAM said.

The estimate does not include ongoing costs, maintenance issues, or the cost if the system should malfunction.

“A costly and unnecessary government mandate like this will hurt homebuyers and the economic recovery. Not only is this mandate unneeded; it’s expensive,” said Brian Klimek, VBA president. “Forcing homeowners to spend thousands of needless dollars on a home that is already safe is not good public policy.”