Homebuilders Irked By Pennsylvania’s New Sprinkler Law

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CBS) –– Homebuilders in Pennsylvania say a new law mandating sprinklers in many new homes could add significantly to the price of a house.

The sprinkler systems are now mandatory for all new construction for one- and two-family homes.  Supporters say it will save lives, but a builders’ group says it could price some people out of an already slumping housing market.

Pennsylvania Builders Association spokesperson Melissa Etshied says it should be a matter of consumer choice.

“Our members, which are builders, have never had an issue putting in sprinklers and do not have an issue with sprinklers — providing the consumer actually wants them,” she told KYW Newsradio on Monday.

Etshied says sprinklers add a predictable cost to the price of a home, depending on its square footage.

“Although a lot of the time we hear that and we think square foot living space, in the case of sprinklers even if you have an unfinished basement that must also be sprinklered,” she explained.  She says that dollar amount can range from just over $1.50 per square foot to more than $3.00, based on the type of system.

She says builders believe a majority of  the people don’t want the sprinkler systems, and some even rushed to get their permits before the end of 2010. The association will try this year to repeal the new law.

Reported by Brad Segall, KYW Newsradio 1060.

  • http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2011/04/26/gov-corbett-signs-repeal-of-new-home-sprinkler-mandate-into-law/ Gov. Tom Corbett Signs Repeal Of Pennsylvania's Mandate for Sprinklers in New Homes Into Law « CBS Philly

    […] The governor sided with the construction industry, which feared that a sprinkler mandate would have boosted the cost of new homes by several thousand dollars each (see related story). […]

  • Markus

    The whole thing could be avoided if they would just outlaw candles.

    Powerful insurance company lobby=change in almost anything regardless of comoon sense or lack thereof.

    How many firefighters a year do we kill vs. deaths on the roads of america?

  • basketball11

    Anyone who thinks this a good idea is very wrong. Did any ever think about what would happen if you were cooking and the alarm accidently went off? Your entire house soaked from floor to ceiling because some idiot thought it was a good idea to make a law out of this. Yeah its going to save lives from fires, but its also going to incurr more costs for those who wish to build. Did anyone think about how it is going to affect the builders? The majority of people do not want this stupid sprinkler system, and therefore aren’t going to build new homes, which means builders are going to lose work. Just what our economy needs….more unemployed workers. Did anyone think about what happens in PA in winter? It snows and gets very cold. The pipes in the attic could freeze in winter and burst, costing home owners thousands of dollars in repairs. If you ask me (and the majority of people) this was one of the worst ideas to force onto the people of PA. Give people a choice! This is America isnt’ it? The land of the FREE! Plus what is more likely to catch fire an older home built or a brand new home? That one is obvious…an older home. GIVE PEOPLE A CHOICE AND GET RID OF THIS RIDICULOUS LAW!!!!!!!!!!

  • tom

    I am on the verge of purchasing a new home for my family but since this law came out it makes me want to look at homes built prior to 2011. I wanted to build a new home but the sprinkler scares me. What are the “extra” costs assosiated? I know there will be an up front but god forbid the system lets loose. Insurance companies have to take that into consideration when figuring your premium. Also where I want to build is well water city water isn’t available, how is a well supposed to be able to support the amount of water that would be required or will I then have to have a gravity fed tank above my home to store the water? Since my well will have an electric pump if the power was to go out. Also after speaking to a real estate rep he said that he went to a conferance and if the sprinkler would go off in any event accidental or fire. If you ever went to sell the home insurance companies wouldn’t give the next owner a loan because they would consider the home to have “mold”. He said you would have to prove the home had no mold which essentially would be partially gutting it. I always dreamed of building a home but now that dream is quickly fading.

  • John

    You only have half of the facts. The photo on your article is misleading in that it shows traditional dimensioned lumber which home builders no longer use. In an effort to reduce costs, they have gone to light weight trusses which fail in short order during a fire creating a hazard to the occupants trying to exit the building. This is not explained to the home buyer by the builder. In addition to the hazard to the occupant, it creates a hazard to fire fighters trying to locate trapped occupants and they have been killed when the floor under them collapses.

  • Richard

    PA is not the first state to require residential sprinklers. The bottom didn’t fall out of the residential market in VA when they enacted this requirement. Saving lives and property is the primary driver of this requirement. Smoke alarms and sprinklers have proven their value in the past and will continue to save lives and property. As for cost the payback is lower casualty insurance premiums. The incidence if residential sprinkler system failures in this country is so low as to be insignificant. Would you rether have you, your family and home burn or get wet? The home builders have karped, moaned and sued about everything that they have been required to do by the building code for as long as I can remember. They just want it their way and leave them alone.

    • Amy

      Although I agree that it is about saving lives these sprinkler systems are a pain in the neck. I speak from first hand experience. Our entire neighborhood has them, it is a township code and my home is now 11 years old. In my neighborhood there are 140 + homes. In 11 years over 15 homes have had sprinkler lines freeze, burst and fllood the entire home. We personally had the sprinkler company come to our home to repair broken sprinkler heads 8 times in the first year alone. Not to mention the maintenance on the system. Plumbers that are certified to do the required testing on the systems charge an arm and a leg to come and do a job that literally takes 10 minutes and they charge upwards of $250.00 a pop to get your card signed and sent back to the water company. We have several neighbors who are now in noncompliance with their systems and have them turned off and shut down because of the destruction that they have caused to other homes in our neighborhood. I think it should be the cloice of the homeowner…the water damage is just as damaging as fire damage, peoples homes in my neighborhood have been gutted entirely and they have lost property and had to move from their homes for months while the repairs are made. I’m not sure there is a right or wrong answer to this issue because everyone good argue a good case one way or the other.

  • Ray

    There are a few things this new law “may” do – it “may” cost a few dollars more than granite counter tops and it “may” cause a problem in the real estate market. However, there are many things the new law WILL do. It WILL save the lives of hundreds of men, women and children who sleep through the first several minutes of a fire only to awake to an inescapable inferno. It WILL save the lives of fire fighters and emergency personnel who put their lives on the line every day . It WILL create jobs in the fire protection design, manufacturing and installation industries. As residential fire sprinklers become more common it WILL be a house feature that is sought after.
    Just ask one of the thousands of Pennsylvanian’s who have experienced loss of life, limb or property due to a fire in a house what they think of the new law. I bet they WILL say that it’s a good solution and they wish it had been in place when they needed it most.

    • bottomline

      Who wants to be forced to have a sprinkler system. If we’re so concerned about mandating almost infallible fire safety, why not just go back to living in caves. However, these sprinkler systems do need maintenance, so the next step WILL be a law requiring yearly inspections. If, in the meantime, a sprinkler head is damaged or opens up the damage WILL be substantial. I’ve seen this happen more then once.

  • bottomline

    This country is becoming the genuine sissy sorority of the world, people whom can’t live with the naturally occurring hazards of life, foolishly believing they can erase every thing that threatens their idea of safety and security. No one can afford to be perfectly safe, no matter what the government tale spinners tell you, it can‘t be done, but they‘ll gladly take your tax money to continue spinning the revolving door.

  • dggg

    its a good law to have more states need to have one

blog comments powered by Disqus
Taz Goes Big!
Download Now!

Listen Live