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New Building Codes Win Support of Builders, State Leaders

Homebuilders in Ohio will soon have to use new statewide building codes that are being hailed as making homes safer and more energy efficient, and groups representing builders say they like the new codes because they improve the product without substantially running up costs. Ohio Commerce Director David Goodman, the state agency charged that oversees building codes, says more Ohioans are thinking about building their own homes these days. "Contracts for future construction in the eight-county Central Ohio region are up 46 percent over the same time last year. "The future is indeed bright for home building and consumers are the real winners," And state leaders think homeowners will be getting an even better deal under new residential building construction codes. Lt. Governor Mary Taylor says the new rules adopted by the Ohio Board of Building Standards have been in the works for years. "It took something that has been under development since 2—3 for a very long time and put all of the right people at the table to have a conversation around how can we meet our common goals but do it in a way that makes sense? Regulate the industry. Protect Ohio families." Protecting Ohio families from fire damage is the goal of State Fire Marshall Larry Flowers. He likes some of the safety features in the new code, including requiring fire resistant floors or carbon monoxide detectors in new homes. Flowers says those are the kind of things that should have been done years ago. "When I was in the legislature, there were some legislative attempts to do that But it’s one of those issues where you have to bring folks to the table. You have to educate folks on the topic. "There are always a lot of myths out there as it relates to fire protection or mandates. People are always uncomfortable with mandates. So I think it’s a series of educating folks about this is good, this will work, it’s not cost prohibitive, it will save lives and you get buy in from folks, get buy in from all of the interested parties that this is the way to go." John Pavlis of the Sinclair Pavlis Construction Company out of North Canton Ohio likes the new standards. He says the key is to balance safety and environmental features with cost. "According to NHB, for every thousand dollars you raise the cost of a house, 250,000 first-time home buyers can’t afford it." And, as Pavlis says, first time homebuyers are critical to making the housing market work. He agrees there are safety and environmental options on the market that could be attractive to consumers but are not mandated under this code. And he’s glad about that because he thinks consumer demand should play a role on what becomes standard on big ticket items. "You know years ago, Jacuzzi had the first whirlpool and put it in a house, advertised it on t.v., next thing you know people are asking builders, 'hey, I want a jacuzzi and the next thing you know now they are in every house. "I think it would be good to do for the sprinkler people. Don’t try to make it code. Push it. Advertise it. Then let the homebuyer come to me and say, 'listen I saw on t.v. sprinkler advertised or I saw an energy efficient this advertised, how much more would that run me?'" Some features cost more in the beginning, but some of the new code requirements, like raising the minimum insulation, requiring more efficient windows, and mandating even more high efficiency light bulbs, will end up saving homeowners money on a monthly basis so that was figured into the formula too. The analysis found the code changes could add around 12 hundred dollars to the cost of an 18 hundred square foot home. But it is estimated those features would allow homeowners to save about 230 dollars a year in energy costs. The new codes go into effect beginning in 2013.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.