Home inspectors can't keep up in Lee - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Home inspectors can't keep up in Lee

July 12, 2006

Leesburg -- Lee County is one of the fastest growing counties for new home construction in the state. The county's building inspectors are racing to keep up. Now, new homeowners experiencing problems are questioning whether the county needs to slow down the growth. 

More new construction in Lee County is not music to the ears of some residents. Growing pains are catching up with new homeowners and the county. "With it growing at the rate that it is we need to make the adjustments that we need in the inspection department," said Lee Commission Chairman Jackie Sizemore.

Adjustments that won't come soon enough for the Walshes, who closed on a new home a year ago. They already have a large crack in the floor the length of the house that allows ants to come in, exposed outlets, incomplete attic stairs, and a dangerous attic. "The vents are blocked, there's no cross ventilation for the air handler, so when they blew the insulation up there's that's blocked it, that's a fire hazard," says Homeowner Sandy Walsh.

Residents say before any more new homes like this one go up they want the contractors to be held responsible for old problems. "What we tried to get done last night is to see if the board of commissioners can stop them from building the rest of these houses until they come back and correct our problem," Walsh said.

"On code violations before hand, sure, but after the fact, like Miss Walsh, she'd been living there and I don't know what we can do at this point, but we're looking into everything we can do," Sizemore said.

The county's four building inspectors are having a hard time keeping up with all of the development and can't catch every problem. "At some point in time, people have to hold the builder liable, and the builders need to answer," said Sizemore.

Walsh told us, "I'm grasping at straws, I don't know where to go, I don't know where to go next."

The Walshes hired an attorney to deal with their contractor and hope the county inspectors will look thoroughly at these homes before signing off on their certificate of occupancy.

Lee County Commissioners did recently pass new ordinances that require things like sidewalks in new residential neighborhoods, enclosures around garbage dumpsites, and rules to prevent look-a-like homes next to each other. They have not approved money for more inspectors.

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