At their regular meeting on June 14, Milford City Council approved an inspection contract with First State Inspection Services. This was a renewal of an annual contract with the company.
“This is for inspections of residential and commercial building plan and inspection services,” City Planner Rob Pierce said. “We first signed a contract with them in 2017 with the construction of the new hospital and the departure of our in-house building official. We have renewed it annually to supplement our in-house building officials to cover leave of absence or when permit activity increases. Staff is asking to extend the contract.”
The contract included a slight increase from $45 per trip to $50 per trip, an increase that Pierce stated was in line with a different contract the city entered into with First State for rental inspections. According to the memo provided, First State will charge $0.045 per square foot to inspect new construction and $0.03 per square foot for those over 10,000 square feet. The company will charge 1.5 percent of the estimated cost of construction up to $20,000 and 0.5 percent of cost of $20,000 for alterations.
New construction inspection fees will be $145 per dwelling unit and includes building, plumbing and mechanical, depending on what inspections are needed. Alterations and additions will cost one percent of the estimated cost of the construction. Garages, porches, sheds, pole buildings and pool houses will cost $50 while swimming pools, decks, minor fit-outs and basements will cost $30. Solar, fences, roof replacements and other minor projects will be $20 with a minimum fee charged of $20.
Councilman Jason James asked if Planning used the inspection service often or whether their use was unpredictable. Pierce stated that the city was currently using First State quite often because there was an in-house building official vacancy. Before the vacancy, the city used First State when the building official wanted to take time off.
“We have not used them in conjunction,” Pierce said. “We only use them when someone needed time off to keep the inspection process moving. However, with the increase in permitting, we may need to use them more often to take some of the burden from in-house officials.”
Mayor Archie Campbell stated that, since 2017, First State has been a major asset to the city. He commented that since they have been on board, many changes have occurred in Milford related to run-down properties.
“We had two contracts with them, one of which has since terminated,” Pierce said. “When we ramped up the rental inspection program, we entered into a contract with First State to help us with those inspections. We have not renewed that contract because we have that down to a manageable level. The only contract we are looking to renew is related to new construction.
City Council approved the contract with First State unanimously.
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience, including 15 at The News Journal in Delaware.
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