Ray Sueper has a big task ahead of him, but he keeps his mind on the longterm goal when he thinks about it.
Structures in David City should be properly built, following solid construction regulations adopted by the City Council. It’s as simple as that.
“I think they are all very receptive of my ideas,” he said, when asked how his first couple of months have gone, as residents, contractors and city officials get accustomed to having a building inspector on staff.
Back in July, the City Council decided that with a couple of ambitious housing project proposals on the horizon, the city needed to get back into the building inspection business.
They hired Ray Sueper of Friend, a longtime contractor himself who operates Coordinated Professional Services with his wife, Carey.
Sueper has been a contractor for 13 years and has worked as a building inspector for the City of Crete for nearly 10 years. He described how Crete has established its building codes by looking for examples in other cities, such as Seward, York and Lincoln.
Now that he has a couple of months under his belt, Sueper said that most people have been welcoming toward his approach.
“I’m taking the approach that you should please check in advance if you are going to build,” he said. “Then we’re going to be able to point you in the right direction.”
From the location of property lines, to the proper materials and design specifications, there are many headaches that local residents can avoid if they make sure they know what the rules are.
Most recently, Sueper has been dealing with accessory buildings that people want to build in their back yards. They could be a small shelter for a mower. One younger resident wanted to build a shed out of pallet boards, but that wasn’t going to work, Sueper said. Eventually, the builder came around to understand that there was a need for materials that meet certain specifications.
The role of building inspector sometimes carries the perception that he is out to limit or to make projects harder to complete. Actually, the city’s building codes, which are readily available for reading, have been developed over years after shoddy work and materials have caused problems without codes.
“It’s to protect the public,” Sueper said. Decades ago, home builders put up a house and the occupants lived there for a generation or two. Not so anymore, with home buyers looking to move onto another home or job in a few years. Proper building practices will ensure that the next buyer of the property will get a quality structure, Sueper said.
While homeowners often like to improve their own homes or add on a feature such as a deck, they sometimes do not understand that they need actual plans drawn up by a qualified builder, to get the project done right.
Homeowners can do the projects, but they have to have the right knowledge.
“I have some really good handouts,” Sueper said. “A lot of it is ‘Fill-in-the-blands.’ There’s a huge amount of public resources out there.”
Along with approving permits for projects, Sueper is working with the City Council on nuisance property situations. The council recently enacted the Property Maintenance Code to help provide standards for determining whether a structure is unsafe.
The City Council could have adopted more stringent building codes that call for more “green” materials, but has stayed with the code that was completed in 2012.
The city faces a tradeoff between safety and making construction too costly for people to afford.
“We want to keep it a level playing field,” Sueper said.
Sueper works two days one week, then one day the next week for a cost of $3,900 per month.
The Council discussed that Sueper’s work would be supported by fees for building permits.
“I believe this position can generate a revenue stream,” Mayor Alan Zavodny said in July when Sueper was hired.
With the addition of new houses being built in the city with the Dana Point development, fees will begin coming in to help pay for Sueper’s work.
“We are going to add property tax revenue, add value and housing,” Zavodny said.
Sueper noted in July that property owners' insurance rates would go down for the city with a building inspector and enforced building codes.
“You are going to get some bigger, broader benefits,” he said.
Here are the stages of construction which require an inspection.
1) Open trench footing or post hole pier inspection with rebar wired in place.
2) Pre-pour foundation inspection, (Includes deck footings), with rebar wired in place & residential foundations require a 5/8” x 20’ rebar electrical grounding rod.
3) Plumbing or mechanical groundwork inspection before covering or backfilling.
4) Reinforced concrete flatwork – Pre-pour inspection.
5) Framing or building structure inspection before insulating or dry walling.
6) Plumbing & mechanical inspections before insulating or dry walling.
7) State electrical inspection of the electrical rough in, before insulating or dry walling.
8) Fire Marshal’s inspection, for commercial construction only.
9) Insulation inspection of walls and/or floors before dry walling.
10) Deck, patio, driveway, sidewalk, and Egress window installation inspections.
11) Any water, sewer and/or storm sewer trenching needs to be inspected while open, with pipe laid, and un-graveled.
12) Final Occupancy inspection must be approved before moving into, or occupying in any fashion, all permitted structures.
13) Additional permits required for Commercial Signs, Fences, Outbuildings, Decks, Additions/Remodels.
Many area farmers grew up here in Butler County and were fortunate enough to have some FFA guidance along the way. Also, the local FFA chapters have received support from local producers. That's why when Saturday comes around, area farmers don't have to worry about dinner.
The David City and East Butler FFA chapters will host their annual Feed the Farmer Dinner from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4 at the Butler County Event Center.
The students from East Butler and David City will be on hand to serve a heaping plate of spaghetti to show appreciation all crop and livestock producers. The RVSP date has passed but all producers are encouraged to stop by. For more information, contact Jenny Kocian, FFA advisor, at 402-367-3187.