State wrestles with provisions of, timing for new state building code

Building Codes in Kentucky have been mandated and updated since the early 1980’s. Whether they will be updated in 2017 is in the hands of two taskforces established by the Kentucky Board of Housing. Both groups are reviewing the 2015 code published by the International Code Council (ICC), the organization from which all 50 states obtain their model codes.

The International Code Council is a member-focused association dedicated to developing model codes and standards used in the design, build and compliance process to construct safe, sustainable, and resilient structures.

The two task forces—one for the Kentucky Building Code and another for the Kentucky Residential Code—have been reviewing the 2015 International Code to see what, if any, changes need to be made to the ICC model for the codes that will be enforced throughout Kentucky.

The taskforces are made up of those with specific interests in the industry such as code/fire officials, design professionals, and builders. Each group was tasked to review the document with their respective peers and then to meet to and discuss the significant changes. Whatever proposed changes survive that process are then forwarded on for consideration.

PDS’ Chief Building Official, Brian Sims, CBO, sits on one of these taskforces as a representative for the Code Administrators Association of Kentucky. “The 2015 International Code is a positive move forward as it helps the building industry keep up with changes in technology. It also helps to clarify items in the current code that were once vague and subject to interpretation,” says Sims.

National model codes are updated every three years based on comments and suggestions from the states, counties, and cities that use them. Once updated, the national models are then distributed to and considered by these jurisdictions who make changes to fit their needs.

The model’s purpose is to establish minimum/maximum requirements to safeguard the public health, safety, and general welfare through structural strength, means of egress facilities, stability, sanitation, adequate light and ventilation, energy conservation and safety to life and property from fire and other hazards attributed to the built environment.

The Kentucky working groups have been given a working timeframe and will need to have their findings formulated and presented to the Board of Housing prior to its November 2016 meeting. If approved, the updated Kentucky Building Code and Kentucky Residential Code would be made effective by mid-2017 to allow a grace period for those projects currently being designed.