New Hampshire Considers Adopting National Codes

New Hampshire – The Governor signed HB 1254 into law in late June. The bill establishes “a committee to study the procedures for adoption of national codes by the state of New Hampshire and establishes a moratorium on the adoption of changes to the state building code and state fire code.”

According to the bill, “the committee shall study the procedures for adoption of national codes as part of the state building code and state fire code, including the Life Safety Code, the Uniform Fire Code, the International Building Code, the International Existing Building Code, the International Plumbing Code, the International Mechanical Code, the International Energy Conservation Code, the International Residential Code, and the National Electric Code.” This committee must meet by mid-August 2018, and report its findings and any recommendations for proposed legislation by November 1, 2018.

The bill also calls for no amendments to the State Building Code or State Fire Code prior to November 1, 2018, “unless legislation is brought forth in either chamber based on the findings and recommendations of the study committee.”

Why is this moratorium significant? The state has been trying to adopt a new code for three years. According to a source we spoke with, the Public Utilities Commission is pushing for adoption, as is the Code Review Board. Yet, in some regards, it seems the state can’t get out of its own way. Until recently, the state had energy codes: a state-level code and a municipal-level code. The municipal-level code option was repealed, but that might have created the unintended consequence of weakened compliance. As we reported last month, HB 1472 created a simplified energy code compliance form that has to be accepted by all code enforcement authorities, but it doesn’t have to be reviewed by the local code official.

The 2009 IECC is the current base code, but some provisions have been made to it since it was first published. Where the story gets a little odd is that some of the aforementioned updates are set to expire before November 1. For those unrenewed provisions, those sections of the code would revert back to either the 2009 IECC or, even worse, the old regional energy code (known as CABO MEC, which stands for the Council of American Building Officials’ Model Energy Code) that pre-dated the IECC. The Code Review Board is aware of this oddity, and was supposed to review all expiring provisions at the same time they were also reviewing the 2018 IECC. However, no action can be taken until November 1 at the earliest.

Despite all the conflicting actions and unusual circumstances, it is hoped the delay will ultimately improve the code adoption process in New Hampshire.