Businesses across the construction industry need to be aware that Louisiana has implemented updates and changes to its Louisiana State Uniform Construction Code, effective Jan. 1, 2023.
The purpose of adopting and amending the current construction codes is to replace them with the more recent 2021 editions of the International Building Code, International Residential Code, International Plumbing Code, International Existing Building Code, International Fuel Gas Code, International Mechanical Code, and the 2020 edition of the National Electric Code.
Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Louisiana Legislature mandated that the state implement a periodic adoption (at least once every five years) of international standards. Also, in June 2022, the Biden-Harris Administration launched the "National Initiative to Advance Building Codes" to help state, local, tribal, and territorial governments adopt the latest, current building codes and standards, enabling communities to be more resilient to hurricanes, flooding, wildfires, and other extreme weather events that are intensifying due to climate change.
According to the White House, modernized energy codes can save households an average of $162 each year on utility bills, but nearly two out of every three communities in the U.S. have not adopted the latest building codes. Every dollar invested in building code adoption provides eleven times more in savings.
"Modern building codes and standards provide a range of smart design and construction methods that save lives, reduce property damage, and lower utility bills — for example, by ensuring that roofs can withstand hurricane winds, that construction materials are resistant to flood damage, and that insulation keeps heating and cooling costs low," said the White House in a press release.
International best practices will make up the majority of the new and updated building codes in Louisiana. While some codes may increase costs for homebuilders, electricians, plumbers, and additional trade-skilled companies at first, the long-term benefits are likely to be energy efficiency, electrical and mechanical safety, reduced hurricane or storm damage (enticing insurance companies to re-enter market), and therefore eventually, decreased homeowners and flood insurance premiums and rates.
"Any time you adopt a new code it raises costs. But the flip side of that is if you are building a more resilient, more energy-efficient home, then your insurance rates are much lower," said Mark Joiner, executive director of the Louisiana State Uniform Construction Code Council, in an interview with the Baton Rouge Business Report.
One of the new code provisions on the roofing side addresses methods of new roof installation and existing roof replacement, such as changes to nailing patterns to decrease lost tiles during high wind events and secondary barriers now required to protect against roof leaks.
On the electrical side, the purchase of additional GFCI outlets and more ground fault circuit interrupter outlets will be required throughout the construction of a new home. GFCI outlets will be required for most 110-volt outlets and some 220-volt outlets, reducing the risk of shock and electrocution.
Residential construction will be inspected for compliance with the Energy Code, previously not required.
Both the Homebuilders Association of Greater Baton Rouge and Homebuilders Association of Greater New Orleans are holding classes and public forums about the new codes and changes. A redlined version of the Louisiana State Uniform Construction Code amendments is available on the Homebuilders Association of Greater Baton Rouge's website.
"The HBA has several task forces, and one of them is focused on finding a solution where insurance carriers would want to come back to Louisiana," said Bruce Layburn, JBL Properties Partner, Senior Vice President and Homebuilders Association of Greater New Orleans Board Member, in an interview with New Orleans City Business. "The code now takes us pretty much almost all of the way there. So what the task force set out to do has been aided by the codes being adopted and becoming mandatory as of January."
On Jan. 24, 2023, from 3-5 p.m., at the STONE office located at 7575 Jefferson Hwy., there will be an Industry Meeting on the "Significant Residential Code Changes" with Bill Pousson, Deputy Building Official, East Baton Rouge City-Parish.
We will continue to monitor the effects of Louisiana's code changes on the construction industry, and report any additional changes as the year ensues and these codes are implemented.
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