Builders Concerned Over New Construction Requirements

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COLUMBIA - Builders from around the community attended an informational meeting to review the 2012 ICC building codes Tuesday.

The City Council passed energy efficiency construction requirements on Monday that call for additional criteria when building a home.

 "There was a portion of that adoption that came as a pretty big surprise," said Don Stamper, executive director for both the Home Builder's Association and the Development Council. "That has to do with the energy code and just the category adoption of Chapter 11."

The update includes a requirement that all new homes be subjected to a blower door-test to check for air leakage. Environmental groups believe this is important to ensuring that a home is truly energy-efficient.

Stamper disagrees.

"Chapter 11 and its adoption the way they did it, really seals up a house, to the point to where you're going to have to pull fresh air into the house in order to make the house work," he said.

Additional changes include increased standards for attic and wall insulation. Slab-on-grade floors will also need to be insulated.

Stamper does not see there being an economic return on the investment.

"We think that the cost could reach as high as $5,000 a house," he said. "There will have to be some detailed analysis."

Members of the city's building codes commission argue that the 2012 update of the energy-efficiency standards would increase costs for homebuilders, and that those costs would be passed along to the homeowner.

"I think there's a missunderstanding on behalf of the council on the cost effectiveness of some of these changes that are gonna be now mandated because of their action," Stamper said. "Ultimately it's the consumer who suffers. These costs are passed on to the consumers."

 The rule goes into effect October 1.