Hinesville Director of Inspections Steve Welborn spoke to Hinesville Rotary Club members about code issues during their Tuesday meeting.
Welborn said codes greatly have changed in recent years to comply with state changes and the economic atmosphere, and he summarized the changes before answering questions.
One member asked what problems the department experiences when working with contractors.
“The biggest problem we have is contractors that are not licensed,” Welborn said.
As of 2010, state law requires contractors to be state-licensed for commercial and residential contracting, he said.
“We have a lot of people who are new in town and doing work (and) they’re not licensed through the state … ,” he said. “Most of the guys will go out and do jobs without getting permits, and then when we find out about it is when the homeowner’s having a problem.”
After the meeting, Welborn elaborated on licensing requirements and said that prospective customers can check the Georgia Secretary of State’s Professional Licensee database at www.sos.ga.gov/plb to verify a contractor’s license.
“You have a residential basic, a light commercial and then general contracting (license),” he said. “They have a list of names that are tested and certified, and you can enter the names on the web site and they’ll tell you whether they are licensed or not.”
Electrical, plumbing and mechanical work requires state licenses, while remodeling work, such as window replacement, requires a local business license.
Projects greater than $2,500 require state-licensed contractors, he said. As for permitting, it’s best to call the inspections department and speak with someone about the project to determine whether a permit is required.
Rotary member and real estate broker Brigitte Shanken asked Welborn to summarize the Hinesville sign ordinance, which received some laughter because it’s about 40 pages thick, Rotary President Jeff Ricketson said.
“The sign ordinance is pretty clear. It’s spelled out there what you can and can’t do,” Welborn said. Location — ensuring signs are 10 feet from the right-of-way — is a big issue, as is placement of temporary signs.
Digital signs also are an emerging issue, because the code does not address them directly.
A sign committee currently is in the process of analyzing the code and determining whether changes need to be made to accommodate the emergence of digital signs, he added.
At the end of Welborn’s presentation, Ricketson reminded the crowd about the significance of building regulations.
“A lot of people think this is red tape, but when you see where there are catastrophes in other countries, where they don’t have good building codes and thousands of people die in earthquakes — building codes do save lives,” Ricketson said.