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Is a fire sprinkler mandate on larger homes fair to builders?

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Builders in the state of Minnesota will face a unique dilemma starting in January 2015. Governor Mark Dayton has led the charge on legislation that will require homes of 4,500 square feet or more to have a sprinkler system. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Gov. Dayton “was persuaded by fire officials’ arguments that home sprinklers would reduce deaths and better protect firefighters who must enter burning homes.”

“I simply do not see how we can further jeopardize the lives of the individuals whose mission is to protect the public and who risk their lives on a daily basis,” Dayton wrote in a 2011 veto letter.

Local builders are less than thrilled about the measure, which could add thousands to constructions costs and price out potential buyers. The average cost of sprinkler installation has been estimated at $4,200-$4,500 per home, and in some cases, much more.

“This is really a case of Governor Dayton ramming a $10,000-20,000 expense down the throats of new home buyers,” said Shawn Nelson, president of the Builders Association of the Twin Cities. “This is simply bad policy, everyone knows that, and it’s time for the governor to work with the industry and come up with a better way to do this.”

As a builder, where do you land on this issue? Is the safety for families and firefighters worth the price tag, or is this an overreach?

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