Building Code Consistency Legislation Passes House; Moves to Senate

Overcoming strong opposition from environmental groups and code officials, a bill to improve North Carolina’s building code and create greater consistency in local inspections was approved by the North Carolina State House last week by a 99-18 vote. It now moves on to the Senate for consideration.

HB 120, “Building Codes, Local Consistency” is a bipartisan effort sponsored by Representatives Bill Brawley (R – Matthews) and Tricia Cotham (D – Charlotte) among others. Representative Cotham has been a particularly vocal advocate for the bill, and spoke in favor of it on the House floor last Monday night, relating her personal frustration with Mecklenburg County’s code officials when she was trying to open a drop-in child care business earlier this year.

If HB 120 becomes law, it will impact the code inspection process in three important ways:

    It would prevent local building code departments from requiring any more than the 8 inspections currently authorized under the North Carolina Building Code Council’s Administrative Code. It would NOT, however, limit the NUMBER of re-inspections that could be performed to ensure work is done according to code.It would extend the existing building code revision cycle for residential construction from 3 years to 6 years. However, it would allow local code departments and individuals to petition for code revisions at any time. Extending the cycle would save money for builders, inspection departments, design professionals and others who must purchase the new codes and receive training on their implementation without sacrificing residential building performance or safety.It would direct the Department of Insurance (DOI) to make written and electronic code interpretations and all appeal decisions made by the Building Code Council available to the public by posting them on the Building Code Council’s website and by publishing them in the NC Register at least semi-annually.  Making these routine interpretations and appeal decisions available to jurisdictions across the state will result in consistent code enforcement, prevent unnecessary inspection delays and act as a quick reference for local code officials for sections of the code that may be difficult to understand.

REBIC and the North Carolina Home Builders Association support HB 120 and are lobbying for its passage by the State Senate. We will keep you posted on its progress in the coming weeks.

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