Real Builders Respect Building Codes

Real Builders Respect Codes


In his first column for the newly launched CodeWatcher magazine, Green Builder Media founder Ron Jones talks about builders’ reactions to regulation.

If one were to listen only to the endless railings of the building industry voices against every form of regulation–but most especially any proposed increases in energy performance requirements and the attendant adoption of codes and standards that are developed to implement and enforce those enhancements–it might be easy to assume that the loud and stubborn opposition on the part of industry practitioners is universal.  My experience tells me that nothing could be further from the truth.

Advocacy groups and special interest trade associations have much more at stake than just the concerns of their constituents.  In the end, the most effective way for them to justify their own existence, and to validate the continuation of their lucrative operations, is to convince their target audiences that they need their protection, to perpetuate the notion of persecution, to promote the fear of change and to decry what they describe as the needless interference in their businesses by those regulators and enforcement officials who they portray as meddling adversaries.

In many cases this is not a difficult sell.  I have had more than one frustrated and irate builder declare to me that they “just don’t like being told what to do!”  My consistent response is that he or she needs to get over it.  We all are required to follow rules and regulations that have been deemed to serve not only our own safety and well-being, but also the common good.  One can’t help but wonder if such a position is little more than a smokescreen to excuse the acceptance of the lowest common denominator.

More often, however, builders have confided to me that while they do sometimes find regulations, codes and standards burdensome and annoying, they nevertheless appreciate the consistency, predictability and technical guidance they provide.  They also point to codes and regs as the baseline that provides the perfect metric against which they can contrast their commitment to superior results and performance in their projects versus those who are satisfied to deliver only the bare minimum.  I have never talked with a builder who claimed to know everything there is to know about building, rather, they are glad to have the backstop of the body of knowledge and experience on which the rules are predicated.

Those who oppose requirements aimed at helping the building industry to improve the results of our collective labors would have listeners believe that they speak for all of us, that they have the best interests of those who live work and play in the built environment as their top priority, and that “affordability” can be legitimately substituted for “profitability” in their arguments against improved results.  The shrill voices of opposition may be impossible to ignore, but they do not represent the whole of the industry, despite their efforts to convince us otherwise.


Ron Jones, Code Warrior

@CodeWarriorRon on Twitter