It was a long time coming - perhaps years too long - but Columbia County commissioners have finally put in place the mechanism for monitoring the workmanship of the countys builders.
With their approval of an ordinance to require builders to be licenses, commissioners have created what potentially can be a powerful tool for consumers. Until now, all a builder needed legally to start swinging a hammer for hire was a business license. Builders will now be required to meet experience or education requirements.
It wont affect the way I do business necessarily, but hopefully it will bring some control to the (home-building) industry, which is booming right now, says Jake Ivey, one of the countys biggest builders.
Its important to point out - and builders often have during the years-long debate - that this new requirement isnt a case of the government shoving a new requirement down the throat of the countys biggest industry. Builders themselves, worried that there was no way to weed out unscrupulous operators, sought and fought for the licensing requirement.
Fighting with them has been the countys inspector, Richard Harmon, who brought work experience in South Carolina with him when he came to work for Columbia County. The Palmetto State has long licensed its builders, while Georgias lawmakers have repeatedly failed to pass statewide standards.
In some regards, thats a good thing. If Georgia had passed the weak licensing measure that last went before the Legislature, Columbia County would be stuck with those rules. But because the local law is now in place - along with licensing measures in several other communities in the state - any stricter local rules would be grandfathered in if the state finally begins to require builders to get licensed.
It wont get rid of all fraud or shoddy work. But as Commissioner Diane Ford put it, the proposal is a good starting point. Columbia Countys future homeowners deserve a good builder-licensing system - and so do the builders themselves.
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