Dayton Ignores Advice of Experts and Majority of Residents, Mandates Indoor Sprinklers in New Single-Family Homes

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Mandate estimated to increase home-buying costs for Minnesota consumers by $10,000 – $20,000 per home.

Rejecting the advice of the state-appointed Residential Code Advisory Committee and multiple bipartisan legislative efforts to block its implementation, Governor Mark Dayton included a home indoor sprinkler system mandate for many new homes as part of a relatively controversy-free update to the state’s building code that was released today.

“Governor Dayton has ignored the facts, the advice of industry experts and the will of Minnesotans by imposing this unnecessary mandate upon Minnesota homeowners trying to build their dream home”, said Shawn Nelson, President of the Builders Association of the Twin Cities. “Home sprinkler manufacturers will certainly benefit from this mandate, but it is likely to have an impact on how families purchase homes beginning next year.

The new mandate will require the installation of home indoor sprinkler systems in all newly built single-family homes 4,500-square-feet and above. This mandate threshold includes unfinished basements and is expected to directly impact 30-40 percent of new homes built in the MSP region alone over the next decade.

Newly built homes in Minnesota are a national model for safety. In fact, since the requirement for inter-connected, hard-wired smoke alarms in newly built homes has been in place, there have been zero fire deaths in Minnesota. However, sprinkler mandate supporters have stated their goal is to require home indoor sprinklers in all single-family homes, most recently in an interview on KSTP-TV and during a public administrative hearing reviewing the state building code.

Nelson added, “This isn’t a case of unintended consequences or an issue slipping through the cracks of government regulation. Governor Dayton has consistently heard from small business people, consumers and legislators who are opposed to this unnecessary mandate. Instead of trusting families to make their own decisions, Governor Dayton has decided to raise the price of their dream home for them.”


• The 1309 Residential Code Advisory Committee met nine times from October 2011 through February 2012 and voted twice against requiring fire sprinklers in single-family homes. On December 14, 2011 the advisory committee vote was 10-2, and on February 14, 2012 the vote was 8-4 against requiring fire sprinklers in single-family homes.

• Based on a recent review of subcontractor costs, a home indoor sprinkler system mandate would increase the costs of a new four-bedroom, three-bathroom home by at least $9,000. If the home uses private well water, as many communities in the Twin Cities still do, the costs can rise to $13,000 to $20,000 once water pump and well improvements are considered. This cost does not include infrastructure, overhead, profit, taxes, commissions, and mortgage amortization, annual maintenance, higher property taxes, or the cost if the home indoor sprinkler system were to malfunction. With these costs added the mandate price rises to $10,000-$20,000 for all homeowners. All costs here reflect a voluntary, competitive market, not costs when a service or product is mandated through government action.

• Of the 43 states that have taken action to update the residential advisory code, 41 have rejected home indoor sprinkler system mandates. Minnesota joins California as one of only two states to adopt this mandate.

• In both 2011 and 2012, the Minnesota Legislature voted by wide and bipartisan margins to reject the home indoor sprinkler mandate – Governor Dayton vetoed the legislation each year. In 2013 and 2014, Governor Dayton refused to negotiate a solution after the Minnesota Senate included similar language in its bonding bills.

• A 2011 statewide survey sponsored by St. Cloud State University found that 87 percent of Minnesotans opposed the home indoor sprinkler system mandate.

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