15 Reasons to Talk about Building Codes

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Fire sprinklers. Building tightness tradeoffs. More stringent requirements to protect against natural disasters: There are thousands of IRC and energy code change proposals that officials will consider next month as the International Code Council (ICC) holds its public comment hearings in Kansas City, Mo.

Fortunately, NAHB Construction, Codes and Standards volunteers and staff have waded through the hundreds of pages of documents and code-speak to highlight the ones we need to think about the most.

The list of the 15 Most Critical Changes highlights those proposals that, because of extraordinary expense or technical problems on the negative side or better building practices on the positive, are the most important to the home building industry and to home buyers, whose interests we represent.

The most controversial may be a proposal to move fire sprinkler requirements for one- and two- family homes and townhouses back to the appendix of the International Residential Code, which is where they were before being moved to the main body of the code in 2009. This would mean fire sprinklers would not be required unless the state or local jurisdiction moved to adopt the appendix.

So far, only two states — Maryland and California — have mandated sprinklers in new one- and two-family homes: a reflection of their high costs and unpopularity with home buyers, as well as ongoing fire safety improvements in materials, products and practices.

It’s important that home builders, remodelers and their trade partners share this document with their local building officials so they are prepared to vote in support of NAHB’s voting recommendations at the ICC Public Comment Hearings Oct. 19-25 in Kansas City, Mo.

For a deeper dive into this year’s code voting, you can download the Top 40 list or contact Vice President for Construction, Codes and Standards Neil Burning at 800-368-5242 x8564.