A vinyl siding ban in Carrollton, Ga., recently was overturned after local builders and the industry's trade group raised concerns about its effect on private property rights, affordable housing and free market economics.
That's one jurisdiction down for vinyl siding supporters and at least 17 to go in Georgia, where five other cities and 12 counties have ordinances that limit or ban vinyl siding.
These places, mostly in metro Atlanta, have imposed a variety of architectural standards on new housing that dictate exterior building color; type or style of exterior cladding materials, roofs or porches; architectural ornamentation; or location and style of windows and doors, including garage doors, according to Alex Fernandez, government affairs director for the Vinyl Siding Institute Inc.
To address all the jurisdictions with restrictions, VSI, a Washington-based trade group, and some Georgia builders are pushing for a statewide remedy in the form of a law that would prohibit local residential building design ordinances for one- and two-family dwellings.
A Georgia state representative is expected to introduce such a bill any day now.
There's cause for optimism for VSI and the builders. They had a similar victory in North Carolina in 2015, when the state's General Assembly passed a law that says local governments can't enact ordinances that control design and aesthetics of one- and two-family houses, including what type of siding can be used.
Four years later, the work of vinyl siding advocates is gaining traction in Georgia — Realtors have come on board, too — and ramping up in Tennessee as a coalition forms to level the playing field for the most popular cladding in the United States.
Durable, low-cost and maintenance-free, vinyl siding has been installed on more newly built single-family houses than any material since 1994, peaking at 40 percent in 2002 before a slow decline. About 27 percent, or 213,000 of the 795,000 houses completed in 2017, had vinyl siding as the primary exterior wall material, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Vinyl siding's benefits and place in U.S. neighborhoods was first evident in the Midwest and Northeast, where it offers a tidy look free of care despite harsh climates. It can be cleaned with mild soap and a garden hose, and it never needs to be painted or caulked.
The cladding's popularity extended south during the housing boom of 1997-2006, much to the chagrin of the region's powerful brick industry and some local planners and officials. Vinyl siding critics called for more regulations, and ordinances were amended.
"I think it's a reflection that vinyl siding isn't as popular in the South," Fernandez said in a phone interview. "During the housing boom, it became more accepted as an inexpensive way to build houses. But there were some bad installations, and when it's installed wrong, it doesn't hold up well. It can get wavy. So some developers in these states have a bad taste for vinyl. That's one component, but it's not the only one."