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Supervisors say building code could kill construction

Members of the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors and the Planning and Zoning Commission met this past Wednesday and the topic that grabbed the most attention was the adoption of the 2012 International Building Code, which one supervisor said would "kill construction" in rural parts of the county.

New codes are issued every three years, and it typically takes a year or so for them to be put in place. However, Yavapai County did not adopt the 2009 code, so it is working with the 2006 code currently.

"One of the issues that we're kind of looking at is, a couple of jurisdictions within the state have adopted the fire code," said Jack Judd, manager and chief building official at County Development Services. "We have not."

Yavapai County does not have its own fire marshal, which means it would have to turn to other agencies to enforce a fire code. The Arizona state fire marshal is responsible for "assisting" counties that do not have one-but only on commercial properties. The code covers both.

There's another problem. "The state fire marshal program is in the sunset process," Judd said. "We don't know if they're going to be around in 2012 or 2013."

The code can be extreme, Judd said. Sedona, which has adopted the fire code, "had to go in and retrofit a manufactured home with sprinklers."

Supervisor Tom Thurman, District 2, a past president of the Yavapai County Contractors Association, was skeptical of the new code.

"This is over-regulating to the point of nausea," he said. Noting the rural nature of Yavapai County, he added, "It just makes it extremely difficult for any kind of construction in many parts of the county, because the cost is going to be so high."

Referring to the Sedona example, Thurman said, "You're adding $40,000 to $50,000 just to put in a little double-wide. It's just going to kill construction in rural Yavapai County if we adopt any kind of residential fire code."

Planning and Zoning Commissioner Tom Kelly said, "I think fire codes for commercial, not residential (structures), makes sense.

The energy code is problematic as well, Judd said. The older code, from 2006, covers residential use only, and just for new construction, not remodeling projects.

"They are really ramping that up considerably," said Judd. "As an example, from a R-30 ceiling insulation (in 2006), to an R-38 ceiling insulation (in 2009), to 2012, which is R-49, and that is almost impossible" to achieve with standard Fiberglas batting.

Board Chairman Carol Springer, District 1, said, "I would have a problem with adopting that energy code. This code would virtually eliminate batt insulation as not being adequate. I would not be in favor of the 2012 code if that is part of the package."

Kelly agreed. "If you re-do a kitchen with a 2x6 (rafter) ceiling, there is no way on God's green earth that you're going to get the required (R-49) insulation in that ceiling. There isn't a product out there that can do it."

"We need to take a common-sense approach and look at those situations on a case-by-case basis," he said.

Government can adopt the uniform building code and then amend it to suit their needs and locations. "The wildland interface (fire) code-we have not adopted that," said Judd. "The City of Prescott did, but they really watered it down."

There is a downside to not adopting the current code, he added. "Our Insurance Service Organization rating...(we) received a 4 for residential on a scale for 1 to 10-lower is better-our goal was a 2 this year. But we were hit hard on not adopting a recent code."

"All these things sound logical for safety," Thurman said, "but I'm not even going to eat a bacon cheeseburger anymore if I worry about everything that might happen."

Wednesday's meeting was a study session; no votes were taken. Further study will be needed before any action may be taken on the 2012 International Building Code.

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