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Chapter 35 – Building Code





3-35-1              Short Title
3-35-2              Purpose
3-35-3              Definitions
3-35-4              Establishment of Standards
3-35-5              Appointment of Building Inspector
3-35-6              Inspection of Dwellings
3-35-7              Reasonable Doubt
3-35-8              Unreasonable Complaints
3-35-9              Notification and Posting
3-35-10            Inspection Procedures
3-35-11            Appeals
3-35-12            Penalty
3-35-13            Abatement by the City
3-35-14            Collection of Costs
3-35-15            Severability Clause 

SECTION 3-35-1                  SHORT TITLE.  For purposes of brevity, this ordinance may be cited as “The Minimum Housing Code of the City of Belle Plaine, Iowa.”

SECTION 3-35-2                  PURPOSE.  The purpose of this ordinance is to establish minimum standards and shall be used to determine when one or more building conditions would result in a condition that would make a structure unsafe for human habitance in furtherance of the public health, safety and welfare.

SECTION 3-35-3                  DEFINITIONS.  For use in this ordinance, certain words used herein shall be interpreted or defined as follows:

(1)   The word “minimum” shall mean the lowest basis standard allowance.

(2)   The singular include the plural.

(3)   The word “person” includes a corporation.

 (4)   The word “dwelling” shall mean a building used as the living quarters for one or more families.

SECTION 3-35-4                  ESTABLISHMENT OF STANDARDS.   The following standards are hereby established:


(1)   Foundation Walls and Roofs:  Every foundation, exterior wall, roof, and all other exterior surfaces shall be maintained in a workmanlike state of maintenance and repair and shall be kept in such condition  as to exclude rodents.

(2)   Foundations:  The foundation elements shall adequately support the building at all points.

(3)   Roof:  The roof shall be structurally sound, tight, and have no defects which might admit rain, and roof drainage shall be adequate to prevent rain water from causing dampness in the walls or interior portion of the building. Every gutter and downspout shall be firmly fastened and maintained in good condition.

(4)   Doors:  Every exterior door, door hinge, and door latch and lock shall be maintained in good and workable condition. Every exterior door, when closed, shall fit reasonably well within its frame.

(5)   Windows:  Every window hatchway shall be substantially tight and shall be kept in sound and operable condition and repair.

(6)        (a)  Structural Safety:  Every outside stair, every porch, and every appurtenance attached thereto shall be so constructed as to be safe to use and capable of supporting the loads to which it is subjected and shall be kept in sound condition and good repair.

            (b)   Handrails: Where necessary for safety, every flight of stairs and porch which is more than two (2) risers high, shall have handrails so located and of such design as required by the building code. Every handrail and balustrade shall be firmly fastened and shall be maintained in good condition.

(7)   Accessory Structures:  Accessory structures shall be maintained in a similar condition to living units taking into consideration the use of the structure.

(8)   Chimneys:  Chimneys and vents shall be structurally safe, durable, smoke tight, and capable of withstanding the action of flue gases and fireproof from the rest of the structure.

(9)   Grading and Drainage:  All premises shall be graded and maintained so as to prevent the accumulation of stagnant water thereon, or within any building or structure located thereon.


(10)   Interior Doors: Provide a door for each opening to bathroom or toilet compartment.

(11)   Plumbing:  The plumbing system and its appurtenances for each building shall provide satisfactory water supply, drainage, venting and operation of fixtures and shall include the following minimum standards:

            (a)   Three-fourths inch copper pipe from stop box to meter.

            (b)   Sewers shall have clay tile through side walls with cast iron under foundation.

            (c)    Interior sewer pipe to be cast iron or schedule 30 to 40 plastic.

            (d)   All exterior sewer pipe to be bedded in sand and cover tap.

            (e)   All inside drain waste and vent dines to be schedule 30 or 40 plastic.

            (f)   Outside sewer to be clay tile or PVC plastic ASTM 4034 crush strength or equal.

            (g)   All piping systems for fuel gases to comply with standards established by Chapter 35 of the Belle Plaine Municipal Code.

(12)   Electrical:  All habitable rooms and other appropriate spaces requiring electrical service shall be provided with a system of wiring, wiring devices, and equipment to safely supply electrical energy for proper illumination, appliances, resident security, and other electrical equipment.

  (13)   Heating:  Every dwelling and multi-family dwelling shall have heating facilities properly installed, safely maintained and in good working condition, and that they are capable of safely and accurately heating all habitable rooms, bathrooms, and toilet rooms located therein.

(14)     Floors: All floor construction shall provide safe and adequate support for all existing or probable loads and shall be reasonably free of objectional vibration. A suitable surface for finish flooring shall exist or be provided.

(15)     Interior Walls, Ceilings and Floors:   All interior walls, ceilings and floors shall be structurally sound, in good repair.

(16)    Stairs:   All stairs of every structure shall be maintained in sound condition and good repair by replacing treads and risers that evidence excessive wear or are broken, warped or loose. Every inside stair shall be constructed and maintained as to be safe to use and capable of supporting a load as required by the provisions of the building code.

(17)   Bath and Kitchen Floor:  Every toilet, bathroom and kitchen floor surface shall be constructed and maintained so as to be substantially impervious to water and so as to permit such floor to be easily kept in a clean and sanitary condition.

(18)   Ventilation:  Every bathroom and water closet compartment shall have light and ventilation.

SECTION 3-35-5                  APPOINTMENT OF BUILDING INSPECTOR. The City Council hereby authorized the appointment of a building inspector. Said inspector shall be an authorized representative of the City. The inspector, which may be a qualified consultant or member of the staff of said City, shall be qualified to determine degree of standards of the dwelling in accordance with this Code and to determine what corrections are needed to bring structure up to minimum standards.

SECTIOIN 3-35-6                 INSPECTION OF DWELLINGS.  The building inspector shall have the right to make an inspection and will, as a matter of policy, make an inspection when any of the following conditions exist:

(1)   On any dwelling when funds for renovation or demolition of a building are provided through a program sponsored by the city.

(2)   In all cases when there is reasonable evidence that hazardous conditions existing on the property represent a threat to surrounding properties and when a reasonable complaint has been filed by a resident of the city.

(3)   When the City has found a property to be a public nuisance.

(4)   When the property has been condemned by the state fire marshal; or where there has been substantial recent fire damage, an inspection may be required in order to determine what measures are necessary to bring the property back up to standard.

(5)   When there is a change of occupancy in is structure and there is reasonable evidence, as determined by the Council, to suspect that the property does not meet minimum standards as provided for in this ordinance or a previous tenant has filed a complaint with the City stating that minimum standards, as provided for in this ordinance, are not being met within a specified dwelling and the inspection has not yet been accomplished.

SECTION 3-35-7                  REASONABLE DOUBT. When reasonable doubt exists that a dwelling does not meet the minimum standards as set forth in this code, the Council may require an inspection of the property.

SECTION 3-35-8                  UNREASONABLE COMPLAINTS.  In the event that unreasonable or false complaints are filed and the Council deems said complaints as being of a harassing nature, the Council may levy a fine equal to the amount of the costs associated with the inspection, against the complaining resident. In no case shall the said fine exceed $100.00 or the maximum fine set forth in the State Code.

SECTION 3-35-9                  NOTIFICATION AND POSTING.  It shall be the responsibility of an owner, or his authorized agent, to notify the City Clerk whenever there is a change of occupancy in a structure, either as a result of rental agreements, lease or sale of the property. The City Council may require inspection of a building prior to the occupancy change if there is a reasonable question as to whether or not such building meets the standards provided for in this ordinance.  If, after inspection of a structure, said structure is found to be in violation of the standards in the ordinance, the structure shall be posted in a conspicuous place of the front exterior of the structure and the structure may not be reoccupied until the deficiencies have been corrected and the City notified of the corrections.

SECTION 3-35-10                INSPECTION PROCEDURES.  The Council may order inspections as it deems necessary to carry out the intent of this ordinance. The inspector shall report the results of said inspection to the Council or authorized officials so that notice may be sent to correct the deficiencies that exist. Said notification and posting of deficiencies shall be accomplished within fifteen (15) days of the inspection.

SECTION 3-35-11                APPEALS. Any person who is required by any section of the ordinance to make repairs to their property, or restrained from sale or rental of the property, because of the provisions of this ordinance may appeal said findings within thirty (30) day period and the City Council shall provide a hearing within thirty (30) days of receipt of the appeal, to hear the said appeal. With fifteen (15) days after said hearing the City shall formally, in writing, make its findings known to the property owner.

SECTION 3-35-12                PENALTY. Violation of this ordinance shall be deemed to be a municipal infraction and subject to penalties as prescribed by Chapter 364.22, 2007 Code of Iowa, with the minimum penalty for the first offense being $250.00, and the minimum penalty for repeat offense being $500.00

SECTION 3-35-13                ABATEMENT BY THE CITY. If the person notified to abate a nuisance or condition neglects or fails to abate as directed, the City may perform the required action to abate, keeping an accurate account of the expense incurred. The itemized expense account shall be filed with the Clerk who shall pay such expenses on the behalf of the City.

SECTION 3-35-14                COLLECTION OF COSTS The Clerk shall send a statement of the total expense incurred by certified mail to the property owner who has failed to comply with the provisions of Chapter 23, and if the amount shown by the statement has not been paid within thirty (30) days, the Clerk shall certify the costs to the County Treasurer and such costs shall then be collected with, and in the same manner, as general property taxes.

SECTION 3-35-15                SEVERABILITY CLAUSE.  If any section, provision, or part of this ordinance shall be adjudged invalid or unconstitutional, such adjudication shall not affect the validity of the ordinance as a whole or any section, provision, or part thereof not adjudged invalid or unconstitutional.

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