Business Advice3 min

What NOT to Expect: Instant Adoption of 2018 I-Codes

Unlike banking and healthcare, the construction industry isn't heavily regulated by the federal government. Rather, building codes are enacted at the state, county and local levels.

Every three years, the International Code Council updates its International Building Code (IBC) and International Residential Code (IRC) - and the latter applies to specific types of construction such as single-family homes and duplexes. "Our code development process is on a three-year cycle in order to incorporate the latest technology and advances into the model codes, and we encourage all jurisdictions to update the codes on a three-year cycle as well," says Whitney Doll, ICC's director of communications. "There are various reasons why some states do not keep up with this cycle, including lack of resources - both staff and financial." States like New Hampshire, Tennessee and Connecticut often lag two or more cycles behind the current I-codes.

The adoption process varies widely from state to state. There are a number of states that are poster children for prompt I-code adoption, including Maryland, Washington and West Virginia. Some states (like Maryland) even have a legislative state mandate for code review and adoption so that there's no procrastination. And some states adopt a single state wide set of codes while others allow local jurisdictions to control the adoption process. The Indiana Fire Prevention and Building Safety Commission is responsible for all code adoptions in the Hoosier State. In Nebraska, the state legislature updates the building codes, and local jurisdictions cannot make amendments that are more restrictive than the state codes. Kansas has no statewide codes, allowing local jurisdictions to call the shots

There is a provision in the 2018 IRC that LP® FlameBlock® Fire-Rated Sheathing can help address: a code change that gives builders the option to separate townhouses with either a common wall or two fire-rated walls.

The bottom line: most states aren't in a hurry to conform to the most current I-codes. Louisiana requires adoption within five years of the code publication date, which means it might take until 2023 for that state to adopt the 2018 I-codes.

You can learn more about the 2018 I-codes and the status of state adoptions by visiting www.iccsafe.org.

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