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AHBA 2023 Advocacy Achievements

By: Brandon Marcott, P.E., Director, AHBA

Getting the keys to your new home is a pivotal moment for a homeowner. It represents a major milestone in a lifetime of memories. But what families often don’t see are the many steps it takes to create your new life.

 

The commercial and residential building industries are heavily regulated. Government regulations are meant to ensure that buildings are safe and meet a rigorous set of standards. However, at times well-meaning regulations can have the opposite effect. They can become costly, cumbersome and prevent development completely.

 

AHBA advocates on behalf of our members. We work to educate policymakers to create positive changes for the building industry. We work closely with government and elected officials to defeat excessive regulations and implement positive changes for the industry, which ultimately benefits homeowners.

 

Here’s a look at our wins from 2023.

 

Fill and Grade Code for Residential Permits

When the Municipality of Anchorage was leaning toward applying fill and grade codes to residential permits, AHBA got involved. The change would’ve required a civil engineer to get involved and submit for a separate permit, wasting time and money. AHBA got the municipality to agree to a request for additional details on a case-by-case basis. While this change can add some cost, it will save a substantial amount of time by keeping this within the residential “R” permit.  

 

Public Road Grades

Previously, public roads could not exceed a 10% grade. AHBA identified this as an issue and pressed the Municipality of Anchorage to address the issue. After reviewing the issue, the municipality changed the code to allow for a 12% road grade. This change reduces significant excavation work to cut back some materials and dirt and backfilling in other areas. Allowing a 12% grade adds flexibility and reduces negative site impacts with larger cuts/fills. Builders will see cost savings by matching the road grade to the terrain.

 

Triplex Permitting Standards

AHBA members worked with the Municipality of Anchorage to change the permitting standards for triplexes from a commercial “C” permit to a residential “R” permit. Eliminating the commercial component of the permitting requirements makes the process easier and less costly for builders. Developers have reported incurring up to $50,000 in additional costs due to the commercial permit designation. Changing triplexes to a residential permit reduces builder costs by lowering consulting and permitting fees, which ultimately lowers costs to homebuyers.

 

CEA/GCI Coordination

When builders started noticing that Chugach Electric Association and GCI were delaying telecom/internet installations and even missing out on shallow utility installations, AHBA stepped in. We met with high-level personnel from both companies to address concerns about the lack of attention to development. Both companies responded immediately and pledged to provide better customer service and more timely installations. Homeowners are now enjoying telecom/internet services in their homes even before construction.

 

It's rewarding to see advocacy efforts go from discussion to tangible change. While we’re excited about the progress in the past year, we’ve got more work to do. AHBA membership means being a part of something bigger. As a community, we can amplify our voice on issues affecting the homebuilding industry on a local, state and national level. Together, we can ensure improved business operations for builders which in turn creates more housing opportunities for Alaskans.


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