Building code: Council balks at rising costs of building houses

A cost-conscious county council has waived new building code requirements that builders say could add at least $ 10,000 to the cost of building a home.

Council postponed action on Bill 44, the proposed building code, on Wednesday to give council and administration a chance to find cheaper alternatives in certain sections of the code, such as one that would require siding under the roofs of new constructions.

The code prescribes a minimum 5/8 inch sheeting when the trusses are 2 feet in the center and a 3/4 inch sheeting when the trusses are 4 feet in the center.

Sheathing plywood currently costs consumers almost $ 100 per sheet for 5/8 inch plywood and more for 3/4 inch sheets.

Joe Belisario, a Kona builder with 40 years of experience, told council locals are already excluded from the housing market and the proposed building code would make matters worse.

“If we try to streamline the process, we are going backwards,” Belisario said.

Several architects, however, have asked the council to move the new code forward. If the county does not meet its deadline to adopt the 2018 code, the county will automatically revert to the statewide 2012 code, which has not been amended to incorporate specific local elements, they said. The county currently uses the 2006 code.

“Keeping up to date with model codes benefits the health and safety of the communities that use them,” Kona architect Terry Cisco said in his testimony. “If we choose to fall behind the current safety and energy codes and demonstrate our stubbornness in improving the codes, the quality of the building stock will be continuously reduced. “

County public works officials say there is a self-imposed deadline to start using the new code in November. It is unclear what ramifications he could face from the state if he misses the deadline, after asking Governor David Ige for a one-year extension last year.

Acting Deputy Chief Building Officer Neal Tanaka said the code is prescriptive, meaning design professionals can use the code as a recipe, or they could “design” it, proving to the county that they can create the “structural load path”.

Ultimately, he said, security must come first, even though some aspects of the code will be less onerous than in the past. For example, the old code required that the entire structure be brought up to the latest standards if renovation costs exceeded 50% of the building’s value, which was a deterrent for many from renovating their homes. Now design professionals have more flexibility to show which components need to be built into code, he said.

Puna City Councilor Matt Kaneali’i-Kleinfelder, who installs solar panels, said he had worked on many roofs in his company and had yet to see them unsuitable for the job, even without coating.

But Hilo City Councilor Sue Lee Loy, chair of the council’s public works and transit committee, said there are other ways to reduce housing costs without sacrificing safety. A house could be built without a garage, for example, or with fewer cabinets, she said.

Email Nancy Cook Lauer at [email protected]

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