The HBA of Dolores, Colo., has been attempting to raise 800 to 1,000 signatures on a petition that would ask commissioners in Montezuma County to enforce building codes on new homes built outside the county's three towns, or let voters decide whether inspections should be mandatory.

The state requires inspections of all new homes' septic systems, plumbing, and electrical. But other structural inspections on homes built on the outskirts of Montezuma County's towns of Cortez, Mancos, and Dolores, are voluntary, and two of the county's three commissioners are vocally opposed to making them mandatory, citing owners' rights.

The HBA wants the county to adopt the 2003 International Building Code for residential construction, the implementation of which would begin in 2007. “All we're asking for are minimum standards,” says Betty Farlow, the HBA's executive director. Farlow says some homes are sliding downhill; others have windows a child couldn't crawl through. “This is our last resort,” she says.

A compelling argument for inspections might be that the county loses tax revenue because it doesn't know what's being constructed. Farlow says the county assessor told her that 200 homes were built in Montezuma County in 2005. The county has a population of 25,000.