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02/15/2011

Adoption of new building codes stalled by homebuilder opposition

Reconsideration likely next month

Faced with opposition from homebuilders, proposed updates to the state’s commercial building codes were delayed Monday when the Ohio Board of Building Standards withdrew the proposed code revisions from consideration by the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review.

At issue are more than 100 changes in Ohio's commercial building, mechanical and plumbing codes.  Their adoption would bring Ohio's codes into conformance with the 2009 editions of the codes promulgated by the International Code Council.

Ohio Home Builders Association Executive Vice President Vince Squillace said the group objected to the proposed regulations because the BBS failed to accurately identify the cost of compliance to the private sector, as required by rulemaking statute.

“At the very least, everybody will have to buy new codebooks and they’re like $300 to $400,” he said. “And whenever you change a building code, there’s cost impacts just in choices of materials and increases in different standards.”

Under Ohio law, changes in the state's building codes are adopted by the BBS as administrative rules, but those rules are subject to the approval of the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review, as are all other administrative rules proposed by various state agencies.

Squillace said OHBA didn’t specifically object to the content of the rules, but he did question the timing of BBS’s proposed revisions.

“Why would you want to change a building code in the middle of a depression? There’s nothing that mandates a code has to be changed. There’s no one – other than the people who sell code books – asking for the change,” he said.

BBS Executive Secretary Regina Hanshaw said the agency placed the rule package into “to be refiled” status to allow JCARR members more time to review the issue.

The agency tried to identify the cost of compliance as accurately as possible in the rule summary and fiscal impact statement, she said. “We certainly think we fulfilled our duties.”

BBS’s fiscal analysis notes the standards referenced in the rules “can easily be purchased from the standards making organization” and adds that builders and designers “would be expected to already own the standards in order to conduct their business.”

Wide variance in building design makes it impossible to ascertain the change in cost resulting from the proposed rules, but the board did not find the overall expense to be significant, the agency said.

State Representative Ross McGregor (R-Springfield), JCARR chairman, said builders wanted more time to meet with the board and discuss the assumptions it made in preparing fiscal analyses for the rules.

"These are very detailed rules . . . they need a little more time to be reviewed," McGregor said.

McGregor said the agency would be back before the committee at its March 7 meeting.


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