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.

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