Sprinklers for 'gut rehabs'?
The legislation that would require fire sprinklers in new and renovated homes in Baltimore is undergoing some renovation of its own.
City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke said after a Tuesday committee hearing that she's looking to change the threshold so sprinklers aren't required unless the rehab in question is a "gut" project. "Really a major rehab -- removal of interior walls, etc.," she said.
Under the original proposal, the sprinkler mandate kicked in for any renovation affecting at least 30 percent of the gross floor area or adding 30 percent more space. But there was a hue and cry against adding thousands of dollars to the cost of fairly minor projects such as -- say -- reflooring.
Baltimore's housing agency, which opposed the bill as originally written, estimates the expense of installing a system in an existing home at $13,000 to $15,000.
Clarke, who introduced the bill, said the Judiciary and Legislative Investigations committee is scheduled to vote on an altered version on Monday at 1:30 p.m.
Clarke says she's hoping the sprinkler requirement will prevent fire deaths, an idea the Fire Department supports.
But Alan Chantker, president of the Mid-Atlantic Real Estate Investors Association, said even a higher threshold for sprinklers would mean fewer rehabs in a city with a lot of deteriorating homes in need of help.
"It's going to add a substantial cost," he said. "When you're talking about houses that might only sell for $60 to $120 [thousand], that cost might be enough to tip you from profit to no profit."You had a lot to say about the original proposal. What do you think of this idea?