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Burns & Hansen, PA

Minnesota court rules on residential construction matter

A home fire can be a devastating event for a Minneapolis family. It can destroy not only the dwelling where a family lives its life but also all of the possessions and memories contained within it. Ultimately, however, the most distressing outcome of a home fire can be the losses of life suffered when individuals cannot escape the fire's smoke and flames.

Fire safety groups have been working to require some new home construction in Minnesota to include fire sprinklers due to this very serious and possible problem. However, in its passage, the rule only required homes greater than 4,500 square feet to build sprinklers into them. Construction interest groups have lobbied against the rule and have claimed that fire sprinklers are expensive and drive home costs up too much to allow many people to buy the residences.

The dispute wound up in residential real estate litigation and recently made its way before a Minnesota Appeals Court. After considered arguments both for the benefits of sprinklers as well as the drawbacks of their cost, the court decided to overrule the building rule. It found that the rule's mandate of fire sprinklers for large homes to be arbitrary and therefore overturned it. It is unclear if the court would have come to the same conclusion if the rule had applied to all new homes, regardless of their size.

Cost is always a factor for individuals who hope to buy new homes, but so too is safety. Minnesota residents who hope to purchase new homes may not have to pay for mandatory sprinklers in their residences, but they may choose to include them on their own in their construction plans. This matter may still find itself back in court, though, if the appeals court's ruling is appealed.

Source: twincities.com, "Minnesota rule requiring home sprinkler systems overturned," Don Davis, Oct. 13, 2015

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