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Michigan homebuilders worry proposed new housing codes may be too pricey

Steve Carmody
Michigan Public

Michigan’s construction industry leaders hope to convince state regulators during a public hearing Thursday morning to modify proposed changes to the state’s housing codes.

The changes would be the first upgrade to the codes in nearly a decade. The changes, which include requiring more insulation and updated electricity services, are intended to improve energy efficiency and save consumers money.

Supporters admit the new codes will increase the price of a new home in Michigan, but they add the savings should help the affordability. But critics say their calculations show the new codes will cost two to four times as much as supporters estimate.

But Bob Filka, with the Michigan Home Builders Association, says the proposed changes will greatly increase the cost of a new home.

“We do want to lower housing’s impact on the environment,” said Bob Filka, with the Michigan Homebuilders Association. “But if you do so in a non-cost-effective way, you actually drive more people into less energy efficient substandard housing.”

The home builders’ group is introducing its own proposal at Thursday’s public hearing Filka says it achieves the same energy efficiency goals, but at a more reasonable price.

Michigan is currently dealing with a housing shortage. By one state estimate, Michigan needs tens of thousands of new single family and multi-family housing units to meet demand. The lack of supply is blamed for escalating housing and rentable prices.

A final decision on the new codes is likely many months away.

Filka says, depending on that decision, the future of the new housing codes will likely end up in court.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.