Working on commercial and residential building projects in Ottawa County comes with a price in 2014.
A new contractor registration fee took effect Jan. 1 in the Ottawa County Building Inspection Department. The cost for a certificate of registration is $100 per trade annually, with a maximum fee of $200, according to the motion passed in early November by the Ottawa County Commissioners.
Contractors are required to file for the new fee annually before any plans or permits are processed on their behalf, Building Inspection Chief Tracy Buhrow said.
The commissioners’ decision to enact the fee followed nearly 18 months of research as well as a Nov. 5 meeting to gather input from builders and contractors in the area.
“In fact, we started looking at the contractor fee because of some of the complaints we had received from local contractors about other groups coming in here and not following the same rules,” Buhrow explained.
An estimated 450 contractors worked on various projects through the county in 2013.
In addition to overseeing the new fee, the county department now will be responsible for checking on mechanical and commercial licenses for specialty work such as refrigeration, electrical and mechanical services.
“That used to be handled by the State of Ohio. We had no authority to monitor those licenses before,” Buhrow explained. “There were a lot of contractors who were not licensed for some of the work they were doing.”
State law does not require general contractors to be licensed.
Another change: Building department regulations also will require proof of liability insurance as well as workman’s compensation benefits.
“We never had that before,” Buhrow said. “Our goal is to protect the homeowners. And, the contractors are working on a level playing field.”
Homeowners on do-it-yourself projects also aren’t required to pay the fee.
So, for example, a person building a deck would file for the permit and then a homeowner’s exemption regarding the fee. Department staff take it on faith the resident will complete the work themselves and not bring in subcontractors to undertake the project, Buhrow said.
Those caught disobeying the rules could result in pulled permits or a number of different options depending on the violation, Buhrow noted.
None of the building permit costs will change in the upcoming year. They were last updated about three years ago.
For a list of those costs, check out the building inspection department link on the county website www.co.ottawa.oh.us.