Louisiana Builders Must Meet Wind and Flood Codes
The Louisiana Home Builders Association expects 300 builders to attend Tuesday’s day-long introduction to the 2003 International Residential Code (IRC), which Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco signed into law Dec. 1.
The state’s 11 coastal parishes must begin to enforce Chapter 3, the code’s wind and flood requirements, by Jan. 1, if they have a code enforcement program in place. The rest of the state has until Jan. 1, 2007 to build to the code.
As the state attempts to rebuild after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the introductory code class is a way for the builders association to help its members become familiar with the newly mandated code. Additional classes later in the year will provide more in-depth information.
“We’ve got everybody coming to this, from builders to city inspectors to suppliers,” said the association’s executive officer Jeannie Dodd. “We’re not charging a fee, we’re just trying to get as many people educated as we can.”
While larger Louisiana jurisdictions had already mandated the 2003 IRC for new construction, many rural parishes had not, nor did they have an established home building inspection program in place. The new law is intended to establish stricter standards and uniformity in the rebuilding process.
In addition to the IRC Chapter 3 overview, code officials will discuss wind load design requirements, and representatives from the American Forest and Paper Association will present alternative building techniques for high wind areas. Federal Emergency Management Agency officials will be on hand for a discussion of the best practices for reducing coastal storm damage.
The builders association is also working with Louisiana State University on a demonstration house where the code requirements are being applied. The house was framed but not drywalled when the hurricane struck, which will enable work in progress to be included in a slide show on construction techniques being prepared for class participants.
Launching the class on short notice was difficult, Dodd said, because it’s hard to find an open and available hotel ballroom in New Orleans large enough to accommodate expected class attendance. “One hotel has the Coast Guard, one has FEMA. I know there are venues with bigger rooms and they were all taken,” she said.
It’s a similar situation for roofers, framers and other contractors looking for work on the Gulf Coast: plenty of home building companies are desperate for help, but there is no place to house the potential employees, Dodd said.
As the Louisiana association was scrambling to put the codes class together, Dodd observed that “the headaches we’re dealing with are nothing” compared to what New Orleans residents are going through. “The faster we can get this going, the faster they can get their lives back to normal.”