Building codes need to be updated regularly to provide for new materials and methods of construction and developments that can improve building safety. Oregon is in the midst of a major code update.
Last summer Building Codes Division (BCD) published notice that it was initiating a code update and that it was accepting proposals for changes to the residential structures, plumbing and electrical codes. This provided an opportunity for everyone to submit their ideas for improving the code.
Several proposals were submitted for each code. BCD reviewed those proposals to be sure they met the basic requirements such as identifying the code section to be changed, the proper wording of the proposal, and answers to a number of questions to explain why the proposed change was needed and what the safety and financial impact of the proposal would be if it was approved.
The state uses boards composed of people involved with or affected by the code to help design the rules BCD enforces, including the codes. These boards appoint individuals with code knowledge to serve on a committee to review potential code changes and make a recommendation to the board whether or not to adopt the changes. The committees include people who administer the codes, contractors, building designers and building operators. The committees carefully review every change to assess if it is needed, if it is worded correctly, if it improves the code and if the level of safety provided comes at a reasonable cost. Anyone can attend a review committee meeting and provide comment on any change.
Code review committees have begun their work. Electrical, plumbing and electrical review committees have already reviewed the first chapters of their respective codes. The review is expected to be completed in February. Once the committees have completed their review they will report their recommendations back to their respective board and the board will make a recommendation to the director of BCD whether or not to include the changes in the next edition of the code.
BCD will then prepare the new code with all its changes for publication. It will be printed and made available before the new code goes into effect. It is the intent of BCD for the codes currently under review to become effective in October of this year. Often a grace period is allowed to provide time to become familiar with the changes and some transition time is provided before the new code must be followed.
The Oregon Home Builders Association is involved in the code change process including making proposals, sitting on review committees, providing testimony and monitoring all the review hearings. Once the codes have been finalized information on the changes will be provided for home builder associations to help with the transition to the new code.