Homebuilders Outline Opposition to 3 Code Proposals

Originally published by: NAHBApril 6, 2018

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The International Code Council (ICC) is preparing for 10 days of hearings on the first batch of proposals to amend the 2021 edition of the building and energy codes.

The good news: NAHB Construction, Codes and Standards committee members and staff are already on the job, preparing the building industry’s arguments to support safe, sensible code changes and jettison proposals that add money, time or materials to building practices that are not cost-effective, benefit product manufacturers more than their customers, or generally won’t work as advertised.

Last month, members of the NAHB Proposal Oversight Group pored over the more than 1,300 proposals submitted for consideration at the ICC Committee Action Hearings, which take place in Columbus, Ohio April 15-25.

The members are particularly concerned about three suggested amendments that would add to the cost of construction without an accompanying benefit to the health and safety of the home owner – the stakeholders NAHB represents when they testify at these hearings.

F267 Part 1 and 2: These proposals both require that four-story or higher buildings of combustible (e.g., wood frame) construction have gypsum board or other noncombustible materials installed during construction on all but the highest two floors when portions of the building exceed 40 feet.

This would typically require gypsum board to be installed on wood-frame construction as stories are being added to the building and potentially before the roof is installed.

S.22. This proposal requires electrical components, appliances, equipment and systems covered by the National Electrical Code to be inspected by a “special inspector.”

If accepted, this proposal would apply to all buildings built to the International Building Code, including four-story single-family homes. It does not specify when the inspections occur, but would seem to require inspections for both rough-in and finish work.

The cost is not quantified, but likely would add several thousand dollars to the typical multifamily project. Importantly, no evidence is provided to show significant electrical issues in buildings due to lack of “special inspections” above and beyond the building inspections already required.

FS34 and FS 35. These proposals would increase the fire-resistance rating of walls and horizontal assemblies between homes’ dwelling units to a two-hour fire barrier and require walls and floors to meet load-bearing requirements without sheathing.

Builders would need to add more layers of Type “X” gypsum board to change the walls and ceilings from a one-hour to two-hour fire rating. It would increase the cost of constructing load-bearing walls because they would have to structurally support loads without compromise by fire or water damage and without sheathing being part of the structural assembly.