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I was recently drawn into a political debate over the Idaho building codes. Turns out that we are a libertarian state. That means the conservative side, which is very strong, has decided that we should be known as the “leave me alone state.” One senator up north even wants to do away with building codes for folks that want to build their own homes.
All I know is that as a member of the Code Collaborative representing my remodeling association, I was celebrating that the new codes were going to be adopted by the state. At the last minute, the BCA (Building Contractors Association of Southwest Idaho) decided to boycott the process. They strong-armed the code board (which makes recommendations to the governor) to rescind their vote.
Is Progress Bad?
The new home builders want to control the process of adopting building codes or not, and they were able to derail the normal three-year process of adopting new codes. That means the state is using the 2012 codes for another cycle instead of the 2015 codes. The wind was knocked out of me over that.
Then, when Boise city and 20 other municipalities adopted the 2015 codes anyway, the BCA feaked out and had a bill created that would prohibit municipalities from adopting anything other than what the state had adopted (except for life or death issues).
What the hell is going on here? Who are these people? What is their agenda? Why are our elected officials buying this crap? Do they think this is going to help anyone? Building with old codes is regressive, backwards, and idiotic. Legislating stupidity is not a sustainable situation. This is why we vote for people with common sense who are not beholden to those with political power, I guess.
At the last moment the bill went back for a compromise and it passed unanimously. I still need to understand it. It seems that the feuding parties (building code officials and the BCA) came to some sort of an agreement. What that agreement means is not clear yet, but as in any compromise everyone loses a little.
If the intention was to benefit the residents of our state, that was not expressed. It is totally self-centered and based upon the assumption that new building codes will raise the cost of new homes and that it will be bad for builders. What if that is a bunch of hooey? The NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) says using the 2015 codes would drop the cost of a home by $500. So, what is going on here? A power play to control the process? I sure think so. Shame on them!
Bonds Are Forged
The one beautiful benefit of the fight is that a coalition of groups are standing up against the BCA, including engineers, architects, remodelers, building officials, cities, and environmentalists. Look for grass roots effort to figure it out and get the train back on the rails for 2018. Until then we have chaos, brought to you complements of your local BCA.
On a side note, something else good is developing. The BCA asked that we accelerate the 2018 codes implementation for the state, which would definitely heal some wounds.
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