Homebuilders Issue ICC Code Call to Arms

Originally published by: NAHBJuly 24, 2013

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Why should builders be interested in participating in the codes development process?

There are at least 42,000 reasons and each of them is preceded by a dollar sign.

Consider this: Just a handful of the 2,065 International Code Council (ICC) code change proposals now under consideration could add tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of new-home construction without any significant health or safety benefits.

So it is no exaggeration to say that the outcome from the upcoming ICC Final Action Hearings on the 2015 code change proposals scheduled for Oct. 2-10 in Atlantic City, N.J. could impact the bottom of line of home builders for years to come.

During the preliminary ICC Committee Action Hearings on proposals for changes to the 2015 code editions, NAHB members and staff painstakingly examined every code proposal to determine its impact on building safety and cost effectiveness.

Out of 750 code change proposals on which NAHB took a stand at the preliminary hearings, the association scored a successful outcome on 596 – for about an 80% success rate.  

A Call to Action

However, the fight is far from over. This excellent work favorably positions the association for October’s Final Action Hearings, but the preliminary victories achieved by NAHB in the codes process could be overturned at the final hearings this fall.

Here’s what’s at stake: If NAHB is successful on all the code change proposals that it supports or opposes, the total construction savings would be more than $42,000 per house.

NAHB is urging all members to get involved locally in the ICC code development process. Several advocacy groups are attempting to add provisions to the international codes that will increase the cost of construction. They are also attempting to prevent the approval of cost effective measures that achieve the same results as more expensive provisions.

NAHB is calling on all members to take the following actions to ensure that only code changes that are necessary, practical and cost-effective are approved during the ICC Final Action Hearings in Atlantic City:

  1. Meet regularly with your state and local building code officials and your elected officials to discuss and secure support for NAHB’s positions on critical code change proposals.
  2. Encourage your building and fire officials to attend the Final Action Hearings in Atlantic City to vote and testify in support of NAHB’s positions.
  3. If your code official is unable to attend, obtain their written endorsement of NAHB’s positions for the association’s most critical code change proposals.
  4. NAHB members are also encouraged to attend and testify in support of our positions during the final action hearings in Atlantic City.

NAHB Builds Support for Our Positions

Leading the charge for sensible, flexible, cost-effective regulation, NAHB was successful in gaining support from the International Association of Building Officials, the Leading Builders of America, the National Multi-Housing Council, the Building Owners and Managers Association and other groups on many of NAHB’s positions regarding the proposed code changes to the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and the International Residential Code (IRC).

July 15 was the deadline for submitting public comments on any of the more than 2,000 ICC code change proposals. On Aug. 28, the ICC will post all of the public comments that it has received, including NAHB’s extensive comments and analysis of the impact of the proposed changes.

NAHB and other organizations have also raised concerns that the 2012 IECC is no longer an affordable, minimum code. It has now evolved into a “very expensive, high performance code” with limited flexibility for home builders and average simple cost paybacks of over 13 years for home buyers.

“Code enforcement officials have indicated that due to the restrictiveness of the most current published code, jurisdictions are either not adopting it or are making substantial amendments to justify adoption,” said Tim Ryan, CEO of the International Association of Building Officials.

Learn more about the cost impact of the 2012 IECC here.

Detailed information regarding NAHB’s positions on the 2015 code change proposals, including those considered most critical to the industry, may be found at nahb.org/2015codes.

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