Residential Fire Spinkler Offer Becomes Law this Friday, August 28

Remember the record number of builders and members the HBA of Greater Springfield took to Jeff City on our Legislative Day trip? Maybe you recall the Housing News photos of President Rusty MacLachlan and other builder members talking with our legislators. That started a process which ended with the passage of House Bill 103 which mandates the OFFER of fire sprinklers for new homes, rather than mandatory inclusion of fire sprinklers, which is now part of the 2009 IRC. In Missouri, the homeowner will maintain control over this decision-making and has the opportunity to make an educated choice based on budget and safety preferences.

Below, you will find several quick answers to some of the frequently asked questions about House Bill 103. As well, we are mailing/emailing to builder members a Residential Fire Sprinkler Option Form which has been developed by the HBA affiliates in Missouri which helps new home builders document the mandatory offer of a fire sprinkler system and compliance with the state law. By using this form and sharing a copy of it with the HBA, we will be able to track the homeowners’ actual choices and document them as a resource for future policy decision-making at the local level.

We are also sending HBA member new home builders a Consumer Education Brochure that has been developed in partnership with the state’s fire alliance organization in an effort to make certain homeowners have all the information they need before making a choice to install or not. Builders may provide this information to the purchaser of a new home when making the mandatory offer of installing a residential fire sprinkler system at the purchaser’s expense.

The actual language from the bill is also included below for your information following the FAQ’s.

Frequently Asked Questions:
How is this state legislative mandate different from what the 2009 IRC would require if adopted?
The 2009 International Residential Code mandates that all residential construction be equipped with a fire sprinkler system. This state law will supercede that requirement in any jurisdiction by mandating that the residential builder offer to the purchaser the option of installing a fire sprinkler system in any single family home or multi-unit dwelling with four or fewer units.

Who pays for the fire sprinkler system if the home purchaser decides to have it installed?
The purchaser of the home would pay for the system and installation.

I can see how this will work with a custom built home. Does the required offer of the fire sprinkler option apply to a newly constructed spec home as well? Yes. The builder’s offer would be based on equipping the newly constructed home — at whatever stage of completion the purchase might occur — with a system.

What about previously occupied, existing homes which are purchased after the law goes into effect? No – the law is only applicable to newly constructed homes.

When does this law go into effect? August 28, 2009

Does this law sunset? Yes, it expires at the end of 2011. Local governments will then have the opportunity to adopt a similar local ordinance based on actual area homeowner preferences observed during this process.

Is there a form a builder should use to document that the offer was made, as well as the homeowner’s response to that offer?
While the legislation does not appear to specifically address the details of documenting the mandatory offer, the HBA of Missouri’s local associations have developed a form which can be part of the contract process so builders may document their offer and the purchaser’s choice regarding installation. Builder members should receive this form from the HBA this week.

The Official Text of the Legislation:
A builder of single family dwellings or residences or multi-unit dwellings of four or fewer units shall offer to any purchaser on or before the time of entering into the purchase contract the option, at the purchaser’s cost, to install or equip fire sprinklers in the dwelling, residence, or unit. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, no purchaser of such a single family dwelling, residence, or multi-unit dwelling shall be denied the right to choose or decline to install a fire sprinkler system in such dwelling or residence being purchased by any code, ordinance, rule, regulation, order, or resolution by any county or other political subdivision. Any county or other political subdivision shall provide in any such code, ordinance, rule, regulation, order, or resolution the mandatory option for purchasers to have the right to choose and the requirement that builders offer to purchasers the option to purchase fire sprinklers in connection with the purchase of any single family dwelling, residence, or multi-unit dwelling of four or fewer units. The provisions of this section shall expire on December 31, 2011.