MO Legislature Extends Consumer Choice on Sprinklers for Eight More Years

Members and Staff of the HBA of Greater Springfield with Reps Shane Schoeller, Charlie Denison, and Don Ruzicka shortly after the House voted 139-12 to Extend "Mandatory Option" Fire Sprinklers Law to 2019

The Missouri House of Representatives on Wednesday (4/6/2011) truly agreed and finally passed the Home Builders Association of Greater Springfield’s and Home Builders Association of Missouri’s highest priority piece of legislation legislation for 2011.

SB 108, commonly referred to by home builders as “mandatory option” legislation, prohibits any jurisdiction from mandating residential fire sprinklers in any one or two family dwelling or townhouse through year 2019. It also requires home builders to offer the option of a residential fire sprinkler system to their customers, leaving the decision of whether to invest in the costly systems where it belongs: in the  hands of the home buyer.

In an overwhelming show of support, the Missouri House voted 139-12 to pass the legislation, which was approved by an even stronger majority in the Senate last month. The only remaining step now for the legislation to become law is that it receive the Governor’s signature.

Missouri House of Representatives Debates SB 108

Action on the legislation came at the end of a busy day in the halls of the capitol for home builders. The Home Builders Association of Missouri’s annual Legislative Day was Wednesday at the capitol. Home builders from across the state poured in and out of legislators offices all day urging action on the legislation. More than thirty representatives of the HBA of Greater Springfield were among those actively advocating for the legislation. The bill, which had not originally been scheduled for debate on Wednesday, was nonetheless taken up, debated and voted on in the presence of dozens of onlooking builders from every corner of the state.  The final words in support of the bill on the House floor before the vote were offered by Rep. Kevin Elmer from Christian County.

“Today’s action represents a victory for home buyers in Missouri,” said HBA of Greater Springfield President Matt Bailey, who led the Home Builders delegation from Springfield. “Consumers should have the right to make an informed decision for themselves on whether to include a costly new system in their new home – especially if that cost could make the home no longer affordable.

“And, for the housing industry, it is hard to imagine a worse time to allow costly and unnecessary mandates add thousands of dollars to a price of a new home,” Bailey continued. “It’s never good for housing and the economy to add regulatory cost. But in this economy, it would be absolutely devastating. The legislature did the right thing by passing this extension.”

In 2009, the HBA of Greater Springfield and other HBA affiliates successfully advocated to pass the original “mandatory offer” statute, currently in effect in the state. This prevented adoption of code requiring fire sprinklers in new homes and left the choice where it belonged — with the homeowner. Under this provision, builders are obligated to offer installation of a fire sprinkler system on a new custom or spec home. The provision has proven to be a reasonable and workable solution to the question of whether to mandate residential fire sprinkler systems, but it is set to expire at the end of 2011. Apart from the extension adopted by the House this week, mandatory residential fire sprinkler systems likely would become the norm in code-adopting jurisdictions throughout Missouri.

Download sprinkler informational pamphlet builders can give to customers
Download sprinkler option accept/decline form for home buyers

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.

Does this law sunset?

Yes, it expires at the end of 2019. 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 are encouraged to download and utilize this form from the HBA.


The very successful bus trip to Jefferson City for Builder/Remodeler Members to participate in HBA of Missouri Legislative Day was made possible by the generous support of our Sponsors:

Luncheon Sponsor ($1000) – Millstone Custom Homes

Transportation Sponsors: ($500) – Herrman Lumber, Meek’s – The Builder’s Choice, Jim Hutcheson Realtors

Registration Sponsors: ($250) – Acme Brick, Beaman Electric, Conco Companies, Dyke Lumber

Supporting Sponsors: ($100) – ADT Security Systems, Adsmith Communications, Alside, The Carpet Shoppe, Custom Granite and Tile, Fiberlite Technologies, Great River Associates, Lathrop & Gage LLC, Prestige Millwork, Signature Home Comfort Heating & Air, Springfield Ready Mix.