I got an email this morning from Clay Greathouse who is beginning to build an earthbag house for his family in Cochise County, Arizona. He writes, “Cochise County offers a Building Inspection Opt-Out , which we are taking advantage of, but they are trying to change this, so a # of us folks are working hard to maintain this option. If there is any way you could help it would be greatly appreciated. I attached the letter I had written to the County Supervisors.”

We have had several posts in the past about how Cochise County has maintained this opt-out provision. You can see these at How We are Living in Our Tiny Home Legally, Why We’re Building Our Off Grid Dream Home In Cochise County Arizona, and Minimal “Owner-Built Code” in Cochise County, Arizona

Here are some points that Clay, who is a local realtor, makes in his letter to the county:

“…most of the land these folks are looking at is very rural and usually with no amenities in site. Frankly this sort of property is of little value except for this niche of folks, if this option goes away, they will have really no value. Many of them will not even be worth the owners paying the property taxes on and I could foresee many more ending up on the county’s books. I have had two clients that after I informed them of this possible change backed out of their offers waiting instead to see what you decide. With this option and the word getting out about it, not only will these lands continue to sell, but they will also get an improvement, which equals more tax revenue for the county.”

“I have seen some pretty shoddy builds, (one straw bale structure I toured was a text book example of how NOT to build this way, but was still standing and I doubt anyone was ever injured by it) but I have also seen some spectacular owner built homes in the area. Most people want to do a good job, but do not want to be lorded over by a county authority. I have been proposing to many of my associates the creation of “The Cochise County Building Inspection Opt-Out Peer Advice Group” where folks could go to get advice on their project. Could be as simple as a Facebook Group and some folks phone numbers willing to talk. I would sure do my part to put this together and it looks like many others are showing an interest.”

“At present a person can get a building permit for $158, and for a reasonable amount of money, learned knowledge, determination and hard work can build a roof over their head and have the dignity of owning their own home. Elimination of this option will mean a minimum of $2500 paid to the county if building an alternative (read affordable) style, which also includes paying an engineer (who knows how much that would cost) to get someone’s home plans approved. Most folks will need to hire out all the work to ensure acceptance and approval by the inspectors. Now we are talking hundreds of thousands of dollars, a 30 year loan, and having to conform to the status quo that society has set. In other words, you either have to have a lot of money or you will forever have to live in rentals or government supplied housing, meaning, quite frankly, wealth discrimination. Certainly that is not the goal of this county?”

“Honestly it was this option, this freedom, as to why we chose to move here from Colorado a few years ago, and I am finding it very discouraging that this county is thinking of going this direction. I will personally do my all to preserve this and other freedoms we enjoy in this County, knowing that there is an election coming up this year.”

Tombstone Real Estate


Comments

Cochise County, Arizona, May Mandate Building Codes — 3 Comments

  1. I bought land in Cochise County to come and settle their in the future, building a house via alternative construction. May not come if that option is taken away, or have normal building fees attached. Seems you would want to attract people to your county,not push them way via regulations.

    • I agree, please call the County P&Z dept speak to Paul Esparza – Planning Director at (520) 803-3960 and let him know how you feel. He is a real nice guy, and not the one who will be making the decision but will forward on your concerns to those that will, and if I may could I share your comment on our Facebook page Supporters of the Cochise County Building Permit Opt-Out https://www.facebook.com/groups/526362518236614/ ?

  2. Thank you Kelly for helping spread the word. We are working hard to maintain this unique option for our County. I have high hopes for this county becoming a show place for Alternative Construction, and it is well on its way already, lets hope it stays this way. Anyone interested is helping can contact the Cochise County P&Z department and state your feelings. We have also started a FB Group that all are welcome to join to see how this fight is going– Supporters of the Cochise County Building Permit Opt-Out !https://www.facebook.com/groups/526362518236614/ Clay

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