Homebuilder licensing: Can open, worms everywhere! Right?
Not really. Not at a meeting this week of the state House Economic Development and Financial Services Committee.
The committee met Wednesday to consider licensing, or registration — or something— to protect builders and homebuyers in the wake of “builders” who swarmed Moore to rebuild after the May 20, 2013, tornado.
Rep. Mark McBride, R-Moore, a builder, called for the meeting.
Lawmakers heard from representatives of the Oklahoma State Home Builders Association who called for homebuilder registration. They want requirements for insurance, continuing education and mandated statewide adherence to the state building code — not now enforced in rural areas — among other things.
The usual urban-versus-rural concerns came up: People move to the country to avoid regulation.
The builders painted their suggestions as a consumer protection — as well as builder protection. Because a lot people building homes in Oklahoma — in particular in Moore — are “homebuilders” with scare quotes, so-called homebuilders, not homebuilders according to any standard.
“In Moore, we experienced just a huge influx of people coming in from the rural areas, from out of state — I mean all the way from Minnesota, Arizona and Texas. They come in here, and all of a sudden they’re homebuilders,” McBride said. “All of a sudden, a framer or a concete finisher, just anybody could become a homebuilder if they knew the people in the trades.”
Moore City Manager Steve Eddy said at least a dozen houses in Moore, rebuilds from the tornado, have long been stalled in various stages of construction — weeds high, sheathing and decking exposed and fading — because of “homebuilders” who stopped work, leaving buyers high and dry.
McBride said something needs to be done to protect consumers, as well as the building industry, whose reputation suffers with every shoddy, botched or abandoned job. Talking and listening first, though, he said.
“I’m kind of different from a lot of these guys,” he said. “Some guys just run legislation. Me, I want to sit down around a table — and let’s talk. Let’s get all the players, the urban guys, the rural guys, some city managers, some code enforcement folks, maybe the CIB (Construction Industries Board).
“What works for everybody? Instead of, ‘Well, we’re going to do this, and the homebuilders are going to be mad, or CIB’s mad because they don’t want to do that.’ If there’s something that can be done, I want all the players at the table, and let’s see if we can get something that works for everyone.”
Yes, a builder opened the can — carefully. Worms nowhere.