A recent review conducted by an outside agency confirmed how much the Placer County Building Department’s code enforcement program has improved over the last few years.
County Chief Building Official Bob Martino asked for the review, because he was convinced it would show the program has improved dramatically since the last review in 2002.
The reviews are done by the Insurance Services Office, an insurer-supported organization that provides advisory insurance and rating information to insurance companies.
ISO rates code enforcement programs on a 1-to-10 scale, with 1 being the best and 10 the worst.
In 2002, Placer County’s program received a score of 7.
This time around, it wound up with a next-to-the best score of 2 in both categories evaluated by ISO: residential properties with one or two units and commercial and industrial properties.
“We were very pleased,” Martino said, noting that he and his staff have worked hard over the last year and a half to provide more consistent, higher-quality service.
His department provides code enforcement services in unincorporated areas of Placer County. The Building Department is one of several departments that are under the umbrella of the county Community Development Resource Agency.
ISO’s evaluations analyze both the building codes adopted by local governments and their efforts to enforce the codes properly. The company considers such criteria as staffing levels, staff qualifications, public awareness programs and the extent to which construction documents are reviewed to ensure they comply with building codes.
Insurance companies are not required to use ISO’s advisory ratings when issuing individual property insurance policies.
In a letter to the county, ISO said insurance companies that have adopted its rating program sometimes provide rating credits on individual policies in recognition of an area’s efforts to mitigate property damage from natural disasters.
“These insurers may use the Building Code Effectiveness Grading Classification we have recently developed for your community as a basis for the credits used,” the letter explained.
“While individual insurers may use different credits or different effective dates, the ISO program will apply credits to new construction within Placer County that has been issued a certificate of occupancy in the year 2008 and forward.”
In a summary of its rating program, ISO explained the premise is simple. “Municipalities with well-enforced, up-to-date codes demonstrate better loss experience, and their citizens’ insurance rates can reflect that,” it said. “The prospect of minimizing catastrophe-related damage and ultimately lowering insurance costs gives communities an incentive to enforce their building codes rigorously.”
ISO has evaluated building code enforcement programs at more than 7,000 agencies across the United States.