Thoughts on construction law from Christopher G. Hill, Virginia construction lawyer, LEED AP, mediator, and member of the Virginia Legal Elite in Construction Law

Energy Codes, Compliance Deadlines & Keeping up to Date

For this week’s Guest Post Friday here at Construction Law Musings, we would like to welcome back (again) Sean Lintow Sr. of SLS Construction & Building Solutions. Sean has over 20 years working directly in the trenches in the construction arena and currently is a RESNET HERS rater & ICC Certified Residential Energy Inspector / Plans Examiner.

Since moving to Illinois, the focus of his business has shifted to helping builders, trade professionals& even code officials not only understand and meet the latest energy codes but how to improve their methods to accomplish it better and more affordably. You may also want to check out his great resources on The HTRC (Homeowners & Trades Resource Center).

I would like to thank Chris once again for allowing me to muse on his site & probably more importantly for his patience on finally getting this to him. The birth of a second kid, increased workload, etc… has led to quite a lot of items getting pushed back &/or limited. Certain items though of course can’t be pushed back and that generally revolves around government agencies…

Heh guess what, that also applies to government agencies themselves with one major deadline happened on February 17th. Remember ARRA & that little line item about the energy codes? Well I got to say most states did & they also appear to be focused on the next one which deadline happens to fall on June 12th. Below are 2 maps from BCAP taken on the 17th on where each state stands – the first is residential with the second being commercial.

Please note that this not the official standings per DOE but it does give a good idea of where a state stands that has adopted a statewide code. I would also say it is worth noting, that just because a state is listed as not having one (or an older one) doesn’t mean that they are not in compliance as many locals in say Arizona & Colorado are already at the 2015 levels. Also 9 states are currently looking at adopting the 2015 or more stringent codes within the coming months.

Staying Up to Date:

It can be tough staying up to date; though I seriously have to shake my head up here (since there has been a mandatory statewide code since 2013) when I run into a contractor that says that’s the first I heard I had to test… with not only the Energy Code changes, but Building codes, Lien requirement, tax & other legal changes while trying to run ones business.

When it comes to legal items like court decisions, lien changes, etc… you can’t beat having a great construction lawyer that not only will represent you but will keep you informed. For insurance, having a good broker that reviews your policies for you at least annually can be worth every cent. A financial advisor that not only verifies your book-keeper but lets you know of other changes coming down the pike adds another layer.

Ahh but code changes – if you are waiting for your code official you may end up in a world of hurt as the first you are liable to hear about them is when you go to get a permit for something you already sold or maybe not till you are hoping to get your COA & they say you also need… Well you can try keeping track of ICC, ASHRAE, ANSI &… yourself or you can find someone who does.

While I love to stay up to date as much as possible & help others it is basically impossible to keep track of all the changes. Shoot, for the last IRC/IECC round as I recall there were over 1000 changes to be voted on. Here are a few ways I use to stay informed.

  • NADRA is of course top-notch when it comes to decking changes including the recent AWP ground contact changes.
  • NAHB is an interesting mix – their Home Innovation Research Lab & some of their sub groups promote one thing while the main body seemingly fights almost any change except for rollbacks.
  • BCAP or the Building Codes Assistance Project info@bcapcodes.org has a weekly email that keeps you up to date on upcoming code meetings, legislative changes & also items related to them via ASHRAE & ANSI
  • Your state / local chapter of NARI / NAHB generally have someone acting as legislative liaison who can not only keep you informed but maybe help you find someone to solve issues.
  • Local / regional groups of those in or closely related to the trades – for example there is generally a local Building Performance group, realtors, architects, etc…
  • Magazines like JLC, Professional Builder, Remodeling Magazine, etc…

As always, Sean and I welcome your comments below. Please subscribe to keep up with this and other Guest Post Fridays at Construction Law Musings.

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