Hayden contracts for own building department

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— Citing an inability to reconcile problems with the Routt County Regional Building Department, the town of Hayden has signed a contract with SAFEbuilt Colorado to provide its building department services.

Hayden Town Manager Russ Martin told the Routt County Board of Commissioners in June that the town wanted out of its intergovernmental agreement with the county's building department, citing a desire to provide better service for Hayden citizens. Martin said centralizing the building and planning processes in Hayden - and thus removing the need to travel to Steamboat Springs several times during the building process - could cut two to three weeks from the building process. Since June, the town had left open the option to rework its agreement with the county, but the Hayden Town Board has now decided to move forward with a private contractor.

The county agreement requires a 12-month notice prior to cancellation, so SAFEbuilt - formerly the Colorado Inspection Agency - may not take over in Hayden until June 2008, depending on how the town and county decide to make the transition.

Tuesday, Martin stressed that the town has no complaints with the Routt County Building Department or its director, Carl Dunham. Martin said there are simply some things the town would like to offer that the county couldn't provide.

"I think the reality is not what the county is doing wrong, but what we want to be doing for our residents," Martin said. "It's not that the process is done bad, I just believe it can be done better."

Issues that couldn't be resolved between the town and county included the town's hope to make a building department official available in Hayden for a few hours a week to answer locals' questions. Martin said he was told that wasn't economically viable for the county.

Martin also said the town was having code enforcement issues. With county building department officials' time limited in Hayden and the town not having the staff to regularly monitor building projects, Martin said residents sometimes violated codes without knowing it, putting the town in the tough position of trying to correct problems after the fact.

"We feel like the growth in Hayden is just going to multiply these types of problems," Martin said.

The terms of the town's contract with SAFEbuilt will see the contractor keeping 80 percent of collected fees, with the remaining fees going to the town. Martin said fees only cover the costs of services and that the decision to form a separate building department was not a moneymaking one.

Martin said building fees will likely increase slightly.

"It's going to cost a little more," Martin said. "A little more hopefully means a little better service."

Martin said SAFEbuilt employees will set up offices in Hayden, possibly even in the Town Hall eventually, if the town is able to construct a new police station and move police personnel out of Town Hall.

"We hope people won't even be able to tell they're not town of Hayden employees," Martin said.

The city of Steamboat Spr-ings also has told Routt County it wants out of its current agreement with the building department. The city has not yet hired a contractor and, like Hayden's resolution, the city's includes a provision to try and improve its relationship with the county before doing so.

The city has indicated it has many of the same problems with the Routt County Building Department that Hayden cited. The city also would hire an outside contractor if it moves forward with its own building dep-artment, as opposed to hiring city staff. In July, City Council President Susan Dellinger said whichever contractor the town of Hayden chose would have an edge on competitors because of an existing Yampa Valley presence.

Hayden's departure, especially if coupled with Steamboat's, will mean a reduction in the size of the Routt County Regional Building Department, resulting in job and spending cuts, county officials said.

Last year, the county building department collected $707,416 in building fees in Steamboat and about $70,000 in Hayden, according to Dunham.

- To reach Brandon Gee, call 871-4210

or e-mail bgee@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

housepoor 7 years, 2 months ago

So is this about revenue or is the current Building Department not meeting the needs of SS and Hayden? Is OC next?

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id04sp 7 years, 2 months ago

As a several-times customer of the Routt County Building Department, I will tell you without reservation that I would not buy a house in Routt County that wasn't approved and inspected by Carl and his crew. They know what they're doing, and they care, as individuals, about the safety and soundness of the buildings they inspect.

A lot of spec builders go for minimum cost, period. There's a reason why we don't hear about fires and building collapses. It's the Routt County Building Department.

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my2centsworth 7 years, 2 months ago

Amen brother. As a contractor for almost 15 years, the Building Department has never been better. Carl and his staff are outstanding, it will be a shame if they have to downsize. Haden having their own department might make some sense, since they are so far from Steamboat, but you can bet it's going to cost a LOT more for that. Steamboat having their own building dept. is crazy, when the RCBD is doing such a good job.

Where has all the common sense gone in this town? Must be a disease brought in by all the newbies.

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id04sp 7 years, 2 months ago

2cents,

In other towns, building inspectors are regularly bribed by contractors to let things slide. We both know that you can't let stuff "slide" when you deal with 100+ pound snow loads on a roof. Even contractors who have not had to build for those conditions don't understand everything that's involved. It goes from the spacing of the rafters to the thickness of sheathing to the size of the studs in the walls all the way down to the foundation footers.

My place in North Routt regularly accumulates 3 to 4 feet of packed snow. I've never shoveled it off in more than ten winters. The only ill effects I've ever found are in the very edges of the metal roofing where the cornices curl around. No cracks in the walls, ceilings, foundation, etc. It's that way because I built it to pass inspection by the RCBD.

Developers will come and go, and they will leave some $#!++y stuff behind for the owners to deal with if feet are not held to the fire. You and I know what it takes and what it costs to build a house right in this climate, but you will lose business because newcomers will undercut your costs. I already quit several years ago, precisely because crap and quality sell for the same cost per sqare foot.

I've heard Carl make a call based on, "no significant exposure to liability will result." The RCBD has done a very good job protecting themselves individually, the County, and the buyers of property. Who is going to be on the hook if a roof collapses in Hayden? The contractor, that's who. Contractors can declare bankruptcy. The County can't do that.

This whole thing is about money. Developers have sold a bill of goods to get out from under the RCBD and build more cheaply.

Hey, you know that new west-side section that's going to be annexed? It will come under the City when building starts. I hope it, at least, gets an appropriate name. How do you like, "The Kickback County Club?"

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