The Normal Inspection Department enforces codes in plans for new commercial and residential construction, inspections of all rental properties, inspections of exteriors of commercial and residential properties, and in responding to nuisance notifications. The codes include categories such as building, mechanical, gas, fire, plumbing, electrical, and energy conservation.
There were a number of major commercial projects in 2008: a parking deck, a theatre, additions to the community college, church expansions, and a hotel re-development. There were also new multi-family developments in anticipation of the increased need for housing by ISU students. New single-family home “starts” were not as numerous as in previous years (just 95), following the national trend. But there were more remodeling permits issued (761).
There are two inspectors who conduct an annual inspection of all rental units – all 7,500 of them! And with more rental units being constructed, those inspectors will be even busier. Most people understand and support the need for inspections of rental units, but there seems to be more cynicism toward remodeling inspections and code enforcement. My take on this issue is that code enforcement is a safety issue and an aesthetic issue for not only the occupants/owners of property, but also for others in the community and for future occupants/owners of the property.
With that said, in 2008 the Code Enforcement Officers performed 4,361 inspections regarding nuisance issues. The nuisance that topped the list in 2008 was “illegal signs” (perhaps all of those election signs had something to do with that), followed by “trash and debris.” The “upholstered furniture” nuisance (violation of the infamous “cushy couch” ordinance) was further down on the list.
There are more new construction projects planned for 2009, including a couple of drug stores, new waterslides, new restaurants, a multi-sport ballpark, and a couple of daycares. Combined with ongoing rental and nuisance inspections as well as new housing “starts,” the Inspection Department will continue to be busy keeping everything up to code.