Upper Burrell officials defend proposed home inspection ordinance
The Upper Burrell Supervisors are trying to assure residents that a proposed home inspection ordinance would not be restrictive.
Ron Saylor of Guyer Road recently questioned the intent of the ordinance.
Saylor said Upper Burrell’s is similar to one in Lower Burrell and he has concerns.
Ron Saylor objects to Upper Burrell’s plan to require certain repairs to a residence each time new residents move in because, he says, they lack the power to do so.
He recognizes the township’s right to require inspections and repairs when a building has been modified. But Saylor does not believe the township should require repairs in other instances that aren’t required by state construction laws and codes.
Supervisors Chairman Ross Walker said the intent of the ordinance being prepared by Solicitor Steve Yakopec is not to make renovations costly or more difficult for the property owner.
“It’s going to be very easy,” Walker said. “It’s not going to be restrictive.”
“It’s just primarily for safety,” Yakopec said. “It’s really just basic, simple stuff.”
He said it involves things like making sure there are enough working smoke detectors in a house or apartment and that they are located properly; or that garage doors are equipped with the electronic eye mechanisms that prevent a door from closing on someone.
Walker said complaints from a resident who bought a township house lacking such things spurred the board to come up with its proposed ordinance.
Dave Knox, a township resident who was a building inspector in Monroeville and does inspections for New Kensington, said that when buildings are sold, renovated or made into apartments, they are required to be brought up to current code — and for good reason.
Knox, who is a volunteer firefighter, said he recently did 10 inspections and six of them found that smoke detectors in the residences did not have batteries.
“A typical inspection is $30 to $50, and, if it saves a life, it is well worth it,” Knox said.
Yakopec said supervisors already have shown their intent with the ordinance they want.
He said he initially drew up a comprehensive ordinance using a model ordinance from Professional Code Services, which does commercial building inspections for the township.
“When the supervisors looked at the proposed ordinance, they said, ‘This is too much for us,’ and they threw that out,” Yakopec said.