10 Code Proposals with Big Price Tags

Filed in Codes and Standards by on June 12, 2015 5 Comments

top ten listThere are dozens of proposals to change the next edition of the International Code Council’s model codes that have a particularly big impact on home building practices and on builders’ bottom lines.

Here are 10 examples — and 10 reasons to talk to your code officials who will vote on these proposals at the ICC Public Comment Hearings or online during the Governmental Consensus Voting Period this fall.

G226-15Fire Prevention Superintendent: This proposal would require a fire prevention superintendent from an approved agency to be present 24/7 during construction of all Type V buildings.

If this is approved, add another independent third-party inspector to your budget. Requested Final Action: Disapprove

G230-15 Sprinklers during Construction: This proposal would require the fire sprinkler system be completed, tested and approved before construction can continue above 40 feet in height for all buildings of Type III, IV and V construction.

This is an impractical and onerous requirement that will add significant cost and drastically change the order in which utilities are brought to the site. Requested Final Action: Disapprove

G162-15 Horizontal Separation: This proposal would require a 50-foot separation distance from Type V buildings (with light-frame wood construction) above a horizontal separation to lot lines or adjoining buildings on the same lot.

The result: Low-rise multifamily and mixed-use buildings consisting of several floors of wood framing over top of a concrete or steel “podium” and constructed using the International Building Code would have to be built at least 100 feet apart from each other, not very plausible for infill developments in urban and close suburban neighborhoods. Requested Final Action: Disapprove

G128-15High-Risk Areas: This proposal limits the height, area and number of stories of in buildings with automatic fire sprinklers located in high-seismic, flood hazard or hurricane-prone regions, to the same limits as unsprinklered buildings.

The proposal (and several similar proposals) claims to promote resilient construction, but is not based on sound science, nor does it reflect a broad consensus of stakeholders. Where adopted, followed and enforced, the International Building Code does an excellent job of providing strong, resilient buildings.

FS176-15 Foam Plastic Insulation: Exterior Walls: This proposal adds a new section that requires a thermal barrier to be installed on exterior side of foam plastics 1/2-inch thick or greater used in exterior walls.

Another layer of gypsum or other material not only adds more costs, but it means a lot of significant design changes from the width of a window sill to the size of the doorjamb. Requested Final Action: Disapprove

S10-15 – Special Inspections – This proposal would require special inspections for firestops, fire-resistant joint systems and perimeter fire barrier systems on all buildings over two stories.

Building inspectors already do these inspections as part of their regular duties. Paying for an additional inspection just costs more money without ensuring additional safety. Requested Final Action: Disapprove

EB13-15 & EB34-15 – Accessibility: These proposals would allow changes to existing buildings to comply with the 2009 edition of ICC A117.1 instead of the upcoming edition, which includes such changes as increasing the turning diameter from 60 inches to 67 inches and the clear floor space from 30 x 48 inches to 30 x 52 inches.

This is the first time that the A117.1 standard has deviated from the original federal accessibility regulations, and therefore the issue needs to be addressed in the case of existing buildings. The concept of allowing existing buildings to conform to past accessibility requirements is not new: It has already been established in the Fair Housing Act, and it is logical that the building code follows suit. Requested Final Action: Approve as Submitted

M85-15Flexible Duct Length: This code change proposal limits flexible duct lengths to a 5-foot maximum.

The proposed limit will impact the ability to install flexible ducts in attics and in locations poorly suited for rigid ductwork. The change will also increase the cost of typical installations. Requested Final Action: Disapprove

P101-15 Part I and II – Size of water service pipe: This proposal will increase the minimum size of water service piping from ¾ inch to 1 inch in diameter for both the International Plumbing Code and the International Residential Code.

This is a solution looking for a problem that doesn’t exist. Modern fixtures have decreased water consumption, lowering peak demand in older homes. If sprinklers are required, they frequently have a separate tap and need to be properly sized based on the application, not an arbitrary diameter. The additional fee for the larger connection varies by jurisdiction, in some cases the cost increase can be in excess of $2,000. Requested Final Action: Disapprove

RM32-15 –Return air plenums: This proposal would remove the ability to use a stud wall or floor joists cavity for return air plenums.

This would prevent a traditional and effective construction practice without any data to support the change. Currently there is no requirement to have any return ducting. The existing code allows for panned return air plenum that provide a more effective path back to the air handler than no return. No reason to change the code. Requested Final Action: Disapprove

Visit the Code Official Toolkit to see additional code proposal changes and get suggestions to get these conversations rolling.

Comments (5)

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  1. Ray Kothe says:

    OK everyone its time to start spreading the word with your local building officials about the above information and the cdpACCESS voting.
    It’s up to ” we the members” to get this done at the local level. While you are talking to them about the cdpACCESS voting this fall. Please remind them that they must designate their Voting Representatives to ICC before August 30, 2015.

  2. Harry Crowell says:

    Every year these same people try to make unnecessary changes to these codes. All it does is to raise the cost of housing and most importantly it adds a new workload to government building departments so they can add more staff.
    Our architects and engineers also are rewarded by giving them the opportunity to change our house plans and add some more unneeded work

  3. Larry Mellott says:

    Have we had enough yet? It’s time to hit the stop button on these ridiculous codes. It is no longer a safety code. It has become a corporate America platform. Sad how once again some can corrupt what started out as a good idea.

  4. Truly Burton says:

    This has now become the INTERNATIONAL CODE BUSINESS. Too many “editions” under the guise of safety. Builders and design professionals can’t keep up with them – nor can they participate fully in the code revision process, like the paid professionals do. Something has got to change here, or we’ll drown in an avalanche of code change e-mails. It’s like following the traveling circus. But no fun.

  5. Mike Fischer says:

    Thanks for posting this- some common sense arguments.
    FS-176 is of particular concern; it is a solution in search of a problem.

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