Builders seek delay in new home fire sprinkler rule

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Minnesota's home builders are still fighting a new law that requires home fire sprinkler systems be installed in all new homes that are 4,500 square feet or larger.

The law went into effect Saturday, but the Builders Association of the Twin Cities challenged the law in the Minnesota Court of Appeals last week, and asked for it to be put on hold for the time being.

The builders association says the new requirement will add up to $10,000 to the cost of building a new home of that size, and will price some potential buyers out of the market.

“Several parts of the new code are placing a cost on homeowners that far exceeds the benefit of the new code," said BATC Past President Shawn Nelson in a statement. "It is safe to say that the new code may create the largest regulatory tax on home buyers in Minnesota history.”

Firefighters in Minnesota have pushed for the new sprinkler requirement, saying it will save lives, KSTP reports.

The station notes that just this month, five people in Minnesota have already died in fires. But over the past 30 years, the number of fire deaths has declined from an average of 100 per year to 40.

Nelson says builders think homeowners should have the option of installing sprinklers if they want, and noted there are other fire safety features that can be installed in homes that are much less expensive.

The debate over the residential sprinkler requirement has been going on for more than a year, and it nearly derailed approval of the state's huge public works construction bill last year.

The building package originally included a measure that would have banned the sprinkler requirement and Gov. Dayton threatened to veto the package until the item was removed.

The Builders Association is also challenging other changes to the state's building code that cover new energy efficiency requirements, which go into effect next month.

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