More Voters Leads to Better Codes

Fire sprinkler mandates will stay in the International Residential Code, but builders and developers will see other construction cost savings after more than 162,000 votes were cast for 577 proposals on the ballot for the International Code Council’s 2016 Online Governmental Consensus Vote, which ended Nov. 27.

After weeks of phone calls and personal visits, NAHB members were successful in pushing the results to reflect the point of view of the code official, rather than that of the product manufacturer.

“This shows the value of our association as the consistent voice for safe, cost-effective construction – and being the voice for home buyers,” said NAHB Construction, Codes and Standards Chairman Phil Hoffman.

The preliminary results await a January audit and confirmation by the ICC Board of Directors. Here are the highlights of changes to the 2018 editions.

International Building Code (IBC)

ADM 94 (ASCE7-16). The referenced structural design standard has been updated. NAHB opposed this change due to significant cost impacts in some regions of the country due to higher wind pressures on roof coverings and roof decking, changes in seismic design categories, and/or increases in snow loads. Estimated Increase: $600-$5,000 in roofing costs for a small multifamily building.

ADM 94 (ANSI A117.1-16). This proposal to update references to the 2016 edition of the ANSI A117.1, Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities standard, was defeated. The 2016 edition requires the relocation of walls in existing buildings and a reduction in livable space to accommodate the increased minimum wheelchair turning diameter and clear floor space in front of a fixture, such as a sink. NAHB opposed this proposal. Estimated Savings: $2,105-$2,366 per dwelling unit.

S10-16 would have required special inspections of fire-resistant penetrations and joints for all buildings of more than two stories without an automatic sprinkler system. The inspector would have needed the competence to inspect this type of construction. NAHB opposed the proposal, and it was defeated. Estimated Savings: $300-$450 per multifamily building.

S23-16 would have required roof coverings in areas at risk of moderate and severe hail to be tested to a UL standard. But the simplest method of complying with this proposal is to install impact-resistant rather than basic asphalt shingles. NAHB opposed the proposal, and it was defeated. Estimated Savings: $1,000-$1,190 for a small multifamily building

S137-16 & S138-16 would have required special inspection of wood framing. S137 would have applied to multifamily buildings over three stories, and S138 would have required special inspections of truss bracing on wood trusses with an overall height of 60 inches or more. NAHB opposed these proposals, and both were defeated. Estimated Savings: $750-$1,125 for a small, four-story multifamily building.

S105-16 would have added an exception to the wind provisions to the components and cladding loads to limit the impact of the new increases in roof components and cladding loads that are specified in ASCE7-16. NAHB supported this proposal, but it was defeated. If this change had been approved, there would have been a potential savings of $2,411 for a small, four-story multifamily building.

International Residential Code (IRC)

RB17-16 revises the seismic design category map, moving some areas of the country into in a higher category. NAHB opposed this proposal, but it was approved. Estimated Increase: $2,483-$6,196 per house.

RB19-16 would have revised the ground snow load map. Affected regions would have required thicker roof sheathing and changes to rafters and headers. NAHB opposed this proposal, and it was defeated. Estimated Savings: $1,014-$1,652 per house.

RB26-16 & RB27-16 would have significantly increased the design live load for decks and balconies of homes to support 60psf instead of the current 40psf requirement. NAHB opposed these proposals, and they were defeated. Estimated Savings: $75-$154 per house.

RB52-16 would have required duplexes that are divided by a legal lot line to be separated by two independent, one-hour fire-resistance-rated walls, instead of a single, two-hour fire-resistance-rated wall. NAHB opposed this proposal, and it was defeated. Estimated Savings: $1,097 – $3,803 per house.

RB129-16 would have removed the requirement to install a fire sprinkler system from Section R313 of the IRC and moved it into a new optional appendix. NAHB supported this proposal, but it was disapproved. Estimated Increase: $6,026 per house (If adopted locally).

RB278-16 would have required that either an airspace or a manufactured rainscreen product be installed behind the siding on homes in wet climate zones. NAHB opposed this proposal, and it was defeated. Estimated Savings: $286-$3,680 per house.

RB361-16 & RB362 would have required the installation of radon control methods, including an active soil depressurization system rough-in, where required by the jurisdiction. NAHB opposed these proposals, and both were defeated. Estimated Savings: $348-$1,568 per house.

International Energy Conservation Code (IECC)

RE17-16 adds ICC-400, Standard on the Design and Construction of Log Structures, as an alternative to meet the thermal envelope requirements of the IECC for log homes. NAHB supported this proposal, and it was approved.

RE35-16 would have increased the requirements for the energy efficiency of windows. NAHB opposed the proposal, and it was defeated. Estimated Savings: $584-$1,563 per house.

RE58-16 would have removed the mandatory 3 and 5 ACH50 building tightness requirements and made it possible to trade-off building tightness in the performance path without reducing the stringency of the code. Unfortunately, this proposal was defeated.

RE79-16 would have modified the IECC air barrier table by adding a new requirement to fully encapsulate rim joist insulation. NAHB opposed this proposal, and it was defeated. Estimated Savings: $351-$555 per house

RE117-16 & RE123-16 would have required a balanced heat recovery ventilator in homes built in climate zones 6-8 and set a new efficacy requirement for fans used to provide whole-house mechanical ventilation. NAHB opposed these proposals, and both were defeated. Estimated Savings: $647-$1,343 per house.

RE134-16 would have allowed mechanical equipment trade-offs. If more efficient equipment is specified, the envelope insulation levels can be reduced by up to 15%. If this code change had been approved, the potential savings would have been $217-$1,425 per house.

RE173-16 brings the ERI values more in line with the IECC prescriptive path. The values will still be about 20-25% more stringent than the prescriptive path. The current values in the 2015 IECC are about 30-35% more stringent than the prescriptive path. NAHB supported this code change, and it was approved.

CE105-16 would have required air leakage testing by fan pressurization for buildings over a certain size and in specific climate zones. NAHB opposed this proposal, and it was defeated. Estimated Savings: $2,000-$10,000 per multifamily building.

International Fire Code (IFC)

F172-16 adds a new section which may require a fire sprinkler system to be installed in the attic of a multifamily building if the roof assembly is more than 55 feet above the lowest level of fire department vehicle access. This code change provides options for protection of combustible attics in pedestal-type buildings and was a good compromise, compared to the other four code changes submitted, which were overly restrictive. This proposal was developed jointly by the National Multifamily Housing Council and the ICC Fire Code Action Committee and was supported by NAHB’s Multifamily Board of Trustees — and it was approved.

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