The Homebuilder’s Perspective

"The New Mexico Court of Appeals recently threw the home building industry into a whirl of confusion..."

Date May 13, 2013 at 12:30 PM

Author Kim Shanahan

Publication All Things Real Estate Newsletter

Categories Business Local News & Sports Real Estate

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From All Things Real Estate Newsletter Volume II, Issue 4...

The New Mexico Court of Appeals recently threw the home building industry into a whirl of confusion when it ruled the current Energy Conservation Codes we have been building under for the last couple of years are not valid.  Huh?  That’s right—not valid.

The New Mexico Environmental Law Center, on behalf of a number of environmentalist clients, asked the court to overturn rules that went into effect in June of 2011. Those rules were approved by the state’s Construction Industries Commission, a group of citizen “experts” appointed by Governor  Susana Martinez.  That group replaced commissioners who served under former Governor Bill Richardson.

Richardson’s appointees labored for months to follow his edict to make Energy Conservation Codes 20 percent more stringent than what builders had followed during his administration. They finished just before Martinez was elected and got them registered just before she took office in January of 2011. Then Martinez came in, sacked the previous commissio and appointed their replacements with the implied orders to overturn the Richardson Codes, which they did.

Thus the lawsuit. The Court of Appeals ruled the Martinez gang improperly changed the rules by giving no rational explanation for their decision. The Court told the Commissioners to go back and reconsider their action, re-vote on the matter, and give a clear reason for their decision. Meanwhile, the Construction Industries Division (CID), the agency that actually enforces the codes, said they were ignoring the court’s ruling and intended to continue enforcing the Martinez version of the codes.

Upon hearing the stance of CID, the New Mexico Environmental Law Center promptly insisted CID be held in Contempt of Court.  As of this writing, the court has not yet ruled on the allegation of contempt. So where does that leave New Mexico builders? Good question. Unfortunately, no answers are forthcoming at the moment.

The issue has made national news in the home building world and it is not very favorable. Stay tuned.

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