Affordability, Practicality Weighed in Code Changes
Taking an active role in supporting and defending several hundred proposed code changes in the code revision process of the International Code Council (ICC), members of NAHB's Construction Codes and Standards staff returned from final action hearings early this month in Detroit able to report significant victories on behalf of home builders and owners across the country.
Through its proposals, collaboration with industry representatives, lobbying efforts and informed testimony at the hearings, NAHB kept affordability and practicality at the forefront of the deliberations and gained the support of code officials on a number of key issues.
The final actions of the ICC will be included in the 2006 editions of its building codes — including the International Residential Code (IRC) and the International Building Code (IBC).
Significant wins for housing affordability included the defeat of several proposed amendments that would have required:
- Increased design of conventional construction loads for wind due to topographical features
- Fire sprinkler systems in one- and two- family dwellings
- Brick or other non-combustible exterior coverings on all homes within 5 feet of the property line
- Increases in insulation R-values for ceilings without attic spaces
- Installation of heat traps on hot water heater systems
- Roll-in showers in multifamily dwelling units
- Continuous sealed air barriers in multifamily construction
- Increased footing widths in houses with crawl spaces
- Drainage practices for flashing installation that contradict accepted techniques and construction methods
- Significant increases in insulation values that substantially change established construction practices with little or no savings to consumers (For a previous NBN story on this issue, click here.)
Though overwhelmingly successful, NAHB was unable to prevent code officials from approving several amendments it opposed.
Chief among them is the inclusion of a residential sprinkler appendix in the IRC and a new requirement for window sills to be a minimum of 24 inches above the finished floor if the sill is 72 inches or more above the exterior grade or surface and no window guard is provided to protect children from falling.
Despite NAHB’s sound arguments that current sprinkler technology is not cost-effective in one- and two-family construction and that there is no credible justification for the minimum window sill height, code officials voted in favor of these proposals.
The new sprinkler appendix, while not mandatory, does make it easier for jurisdictions considering mandatory sprinkler requirements to use it to adopt them. NAHB will continue to work with home builders associations to keep this from happening.
For additional information on the ICC Final Action Hearings, e-mail Larry Brown at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8565.