Builders complain about inspector


Several members of the community spoke during the March county commissioners’ meeting about concerns they have with the county’s building inspector, Brett Nash.

Commissioner Becky Golden started the discussion when she told the other 11 commissioners present she had several people, including people not in her district, contact her.

“They’ve had some complaints and some concerns about his handling of things as well as his attitude,” she told the board.

Golden also said the complaints had to do with asking him to show them what they were doing wrong, and his response was always that he didn’t have time for that.

“I’ve had people tell me that they’re not going to build in White County because of that fact,” Golden said.

When the chairman of the commission, Kyle Goff, opened the floor for citizens’ comments, more information about the situation came to light.

Todd Hutchings, a local builder, told the board Nash was changing the rules as he goes.

“I’ve never had anyone change codes,” Hutchings, who said he builds in several counties, said, adding that Nash was telling different builders different things and having them do things differently at each build site. “He told us he had the authority to change any code that he felt like.”

“I have complained to the county executive office several times, and I have gotten too many excuses,” Hutchings continued, saying that if something is wrong at one of his sites, he would be happy to fix it and noted he’s not above making a mistake. “It’s either you follow the codes or you don’t. But, pulling things out of the air – it’s for the birds.”

Tracy Fowler, a White County resident who writes electrical permits, said she is also getting complaints.

“If they have natural gas, Brett Nash is making them get permits for the gas line inspections,” she said.

Fowler said Nash had even gone so far as to tell Middle Tennessee Natural Gas to not turn the gas on at a home unless he had placed an inspection sticker on the meter.

“Per the state, he cannot do that,” Fowler said. “That is completely illegal.”

Fowler went on to say that from Feb.1, 2023, when White County took over the building inspections from the state, until Dec. 31, 2023, 37 of the 236 building permits issued were for garages. She said some of those were for barns, and, according to the state of Tennessee, some of those were unnecessary.

“The state of Tennessee plainly states that agriculture is exempt from building permits,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if it has a garage door. Agriculture is agriculture.”

Flower explained that detached garages also do not require building permits unless they contain a heated space, but Nash was requiring permits anyway.

“He is making up his own rules as goes,” Fowler said. “I have talked to Denny Wayne [Robinson, county executive] about this, and I have talked to other commissioners about this, and nobody seems to be doing anything. I feel like White County owes some people their money back. He is illegally making people buy permits that didn’t have to.”

Brice Murphy also spoke to the commissioners, saying the problem has escalated to the point that he plans to just build in Putnam County now.

“It feels like he’s operating unilaterally and making decisions on the fly,” Murphy said. “It discourages me from building houses in White County.”

Murphy cited an instance where he was having difficulty getting through a final inspection on a home in White County. He said Nash told him he was too busy to help him, but the Putnam County inspector spent 30 minutes on the phone walking him through each step.

Goff, who also said he had been receiving calls with complaints concerning the building inspector, requested the county executive ask Nash to attend the April 1, 2024, Steering Committee B meeting. That meeting, which is open to the public, will be held at 5 p.m. and will take place in the third-floor courtroom at the White County Courthouse.                  


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