Volume 2   Issue 3               Fall 2001

c o d e / c o n c e r n s

Modifications Approved to North Carolina Building Code
by Pete Billing

The North Carolina Building Code Council held hearings in Raleigh in early June to consider modifications to their adoption of the International Building Code (IBC) and the International Residential Code (IRC).

Approved, Then Disapproved

After two days of hearings, the council first approved the further study of an insurance industry proposal to reinstate the wind-borne debris/internal pressure criteria of ASCE 7 in the IBC. After proponents left the meeting to catch planes, however, the council reversed itself and disapproved further study of the proposal. The council also disapproved a proposal to reinstate the wind-borne debris protection criteria in the IRC.

“The surprising support by the structural engineer 
on the council for eliminating wind-borne debris 
protection also helped sway the final decision.”

In the testimony, six presenters represented various aspects of the insurance industry. Also testifying were two experts on hurricanes and wind design, four producers of window protection devices and four representatives of the fenestration industry.

I was one of the latter four and centered my presentation on the use of model codes, referencing standards as they have been written without technical modifications. Also covered were the steps involved in the adoption of the wind design criteria with emphasis on the need to use the entire wind design package as published in the codes, if the proposal was approved, as opposed to picking and choosing parts of the criteria that they liked.

Influencing the final decision were two home builder representatives who serve on the Building Code Council. The two, who carry considerable weight with the council, expressed concern over the increased cost of the original proposal and the effect of that cost on prospective buyers. The surprising support by the structural engineer on the council for eliminating wind-borne debris protection also helped sway the final decision.

Approved Measures

The council did approve proposals from the Wilmington Home Builders Association and the Pender County Home Builders Association to reduce the design wind speeds for Brunswick, Pender and New Hanover counties. These three counties include the Cape Fear area as well as the communities of Carolina Beach, Seabreeze and Wrightsville Beach. At the same time, the code body denied a request by the Carteret County Home Builders Association to reduce the design wind speed for that county, home to Indian Beach, Atlantic Beach and Cape Lookout.

Also approved (despite opposition from WDMA and others) was a proposal to delete requirements for limiting the solar heat gain coefficient to 0.40 in locations with heating degree-days less than 3,400.

The IBC, as modified by the council, will take effect on December 31, 2001. Adoption of the IRC will have little effect. The council retained almost all of its previous residential code (Volume VII). Realistically, little can be expected in the way of new code requirements after the end of this year for at least another four years. North Carolina law allows the council to change the code only once every three years. Add to that a one-year review period required by statute.

For the rest of this year, builders have the option of using the new code as approved by the council, according to Grover Sawyer, chief engineer of the North Carolina Department of Labor. Following the first of next year, builders will enjoy a one-year transition period where they can use either the existing code or the new code.

Pete Billing serves as a codes consultant for the Window and Door Manufacturers Association.

© Copyright 2001 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.