RALEIGH – Gov. Pat McCrory has signed a bill that puts an end to the drastically different building codes across different municipalities that have led to some confusion among builders in the state.
House Bill 120, which was known in the Senate as Bill 108, on March 12 passed the N.C. House in a 99 to 18 vote before moving into the Senate. On June 12, the Senate voted to pass the bill, which McCrory signed into law June 19.
The law imposes a state-wide uniform building code, much to the relief of many in the building industry.
“If you want to get your car titled in the state, it’s the same everywhere,” Rep. Bill Brawley, one of the bill’s sponsors, said in March. “But if you read building codes, it’s different everywhere, and we can’t have that.”
The law imposes a limit on the number of different inspection categories local code enforcement agencies may require on a building. For residential construction that number is seven. For commercial construction, it is eight, according to the N.C. Building Code Council’s administrative code. The inspections would be the same for all residential and commercial buildings.
That limit wouldn’t restrict the overall number of inspections performed; rather, the bill would limit code enforcement to only seven (for residential) or eight (for commercial) categories of inspections.
For instance, if a contractor couldn’t get a building to pass its roofing inspection, code enforcers could do that inspection until the building passes. But, under the bill, code enforcement couldn’t require more types of inspection, unless specifically approved by the state Building Code Council on a case-by-case basis. The same is true for the other six (or seven) inspections that are now required.
The law also extends the amount of time between revisions of state building code for residential construction. Under the previous law, state code is updated every three years; the new law requires a minimum of six years between residential code revisions. The building code for commercial projects still would be updated every three years.
The third major change under the new law is that the state Department of Insurance, which handles building code appeals, would be required to keep an Internet database of appeal decisions and code interpretations. That database would be available free to the public, allowing contractors and code enforcement agencies to keep track of how state codes are understood and enforced.
The law goes into effect on July 1.