The Christine Galbreath Mammoth Real Estate Blog

New Wood Burning Inserts Reconstruction Ordinance

New Fireplace Ordinance for the Town of Mammoth Lakes
If your home or condo in Mammoth Lakes has a woodstove insert, the new fireplace reconstruction ordinance will affect you. Per the Town attorney: The ordinance won't take effect until 30 days from the next Council meeting, so April 5th.  Any property that closes escrow before then doesn't have to immediately replace the insert.  Any property with an escrow closing on or after April 5th would have to replace the insert, regardless of whether they opened escrow before the ordinance takes effect. If the home or condo is not for sale, the woodstove insert must be reconstructed by October 31, 2022 (or at the next sale anytime prior to 10/31/22).
Current fireboxes were not designed in many cases, to handle the heat that an EPA woodstove insert puts out. This has resulted in several flue fires. Again, this applies to WOODSTOVE INSERTS ONLY. Below are important questions regarding the new ordinance, answered by Mammoth Lakes Senior Building Inspector.

Regarding the new fireplace reconstruction ordinance:
(1)    Are current installations of pellet stoves exempt?  yes

(2)    Paragraph 6.C. states, “All woodstove inserts currently installed within the Town shall be removed or be reconstructed … upon the sale of the real property…”  I have a buyer in escrow on a house with a woodstove insert.  Do we need to extend escrow to get the inspection and work done or can the escrow close and the buyer do the work after close of escrow (i.e. 60 days after, like the other fireplace ordinance)?  The 60 day waiver applies.

(3)    How is it determined whether or not a woodstove insert needs to be reconstructed?  Will an invasive inspection be required (i.e. rip off rock/drywall/mantle)?  The ordinance is such that all inserts be reconstructed.  We tried everything from x-rays, to camera scopes and nothing really worked.  Yes it is invasive as non combustible material needs to be constructed to replace the old.  It is up to the contractor to determine how he accomplishes this, but it is my experience that everything is removed then reconstructed from scratch.

(4)    Has the Town or Fire Protection District looked into any government grants to help with this burden?  It seems similar to energy efficient appliances or low-flow toilets where the manufacturers offer rebates for installation of the newer energy-saving appliances.  It might help incentivize owners to get the work done in a timely fashion instead of all waiting for the year 2022.  Just an idea.   Yes we are going to pursue the grant funding.

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Mammoth's Market is Active

The real estate market is more active, with lower inventory than we have seen in the past decade.
The primary resident market in Southern and Northern California hit bottom sometime last year.  Most of our buyers are second homeowners, so Mammoth typically follows the California trend but several months later.  There appears to be buyer confidence that we won’t continue to drop in value and buyers are coming to the marketplace prepared to make a decision.  Most buyers have been tracking the market and feel confident that NOW is a great time to make a purchase.  The combination of low prices and historically low interest rates create an environment that brings buyers to the table.

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