Building code update considered

The Urban Affairs Committee heard testimony Feb. 12 on a bill that would update Nebraska’s building code.

<a href='http://news.legislature.ne.gov/dist35' target='_blank' title='Link to the website of Sen. Dan Quick'>Sen. Dan Quick</a>
Sen. Dan Quick

Sen. Dan Quick of Grand Island introduced LB348, which would adopt the 2018 version of the International Building Code, International Residential Code and the International Existing Building Code as published by the International Code Council. Currently, Nebraska is using the 2012 edition of the ICC codes.

“It will make things safer for people who live in homes and in apartments,” Quick said.

Quick said that the state building code only applies to state-owned buildings and buildings in political subdivisions that have adopted the state building code. Other cities and counties are required to “conform generally,” he said.

The bill retains an exemption from a mandate that one- and two-family houses have fire sprinklers, Quick said.

Steve Nordhues, a building official with the city of Norfolk, testified in favor of the bill. He said the current code is “obsolete,” and added that a number of construction organizations are in favor of updating the code.

“Senators, this is the bill you’ve been waiting for,” he said. “It is the easiest ‘yes’ you’ll get.”

Dave Johnson, representing the American Institute of Architects, also testified in favor of LB348. He said updating the code periodically makes any changes less dramatic.

“It is important to keep the codes current. They are updated for good reasons,” he said.

Also testifying in favor of the bill was engineer David Holtzclaw. He said new guidelines on mitigating the effects of natural disasters are a critical component of the 2018 codes.

“It reduces the need for public disaster aid,” Holtzclaw said. “Across the country, every dollar spent in upgrading to the 2018 code resulted in an $11 cost mitigation.”

No one testified against LB348 and the committee took no immediate action on it.

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