Codes and Regulations

The original purpose of building codes was to protect public health and safety, but local government agencies have increasingly turned to codes to implement other policies. NAHB’s State and Local Issues Fund (SLIF) supports HBAs as they represent the home building industry during the code making or updating process. HBAs also use SLIF funding to create education programs that inform the public and elected officials about the cost and consequences of new requirements.

Educating Consumers about Electrification Mandates

Las Cruces (N.M.) Home Builders Association

The push for electrification in Las Cruces is growing and has the potential to go statewide. The Las Cruces sustainability office has been releasing base code amendment proposal ideas which include requirements for electrification ready infrastructure and EV-chargers or EV-capable requirements. SLIF funds will be used to mount an awareness campaign targeting builders, contractors, and remodelers. The HBA will also hold presentations and create online resources to inform the city’s residents about the cost of these electrical requirements and hire a consultant to develop a strategy for these proposals.

Estimated project cost: $20,000

Fund request: $20,000

Creating a Codes Program in Vermont

Vermont Builders and Remodelers Association (VBRA)

Vermont is updating to the 2023 IECC code and the Public Service Department has issued its final Residential Building Energy Standards (RBES) rules recommendations. There has been no allocation of resources for the training, certification, and oversight needed to ensure compliance. Most municipalities in the state do not have a building department with the capacity to manage, review and inspect energy standards, and no state agency or office designed to interpret, administer, and enforce the standards. With SLIF funding, VBRA plans to engage in a lobbying and communications campaign to pause the adoption of the 2023 RBES code updates and work with the legislature, the Public Service Department, and other stakeholders to create a code program that addresses compliance, inspection, enforcement, and comprehensive builder education.

Estimated project cost: $36,000

Fund request: $20,000

Fighting City of Houston’s Narrow Lot Requirements

Greater Houston Builders Association (GHBA)

The City of Houston is pursuing an update to its Code of Ordinances to make townhomes more expensive and complicated to build. The proposal bans individual driveways and forces shared driveways on narrow lots under 40ft. Additionally, home builders would be required to create alleyways in spaces not maintained by the city, leaving the home owners responsible. The GHBA is engaging with the Houston City Council regarding this proposal, and SLIF funds will support a grassroots campaign to demonstrate the challenges and costs of these regulations.

Estimated project cost: $40,000

Funding request: $20,000

Addressing staffing, budgetary constraints at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Regulatory Branch Norfolk District

HBA of Virginia (Richmond, Va.)

Increased project development and staffing shortages at the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District Regulatory Branch (USACE) has led to a massive backlog of project approvals from regulatory and oversight organizations in Virginia. The HBA of Virginia formed a coalition to seek funding in the federal budget for USACE, specifically to hire additional staff. While coordinating with Virginia’s U.S. Senators, the coalition successfully led to a budget inclusion of an additional $8 million for the USACE’s regulatory program. SLIF funds will support the continuation of the HBA’s efforts to increase funding.

Estimated project cost: $50,000

Funding request: $20,000

Holding Elected Officials Accountable for Codes

Acadian Home Builders Association (Lafayette, La.)

HBA representatives were appointed to a task force to repeal and replace the unified development code. As a result, the “Lafayette Development Code” was adopted. On numerous occasions, not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) residents and civic groups opposed to land development deals engage their city council members. In response, elected officials are swayed by their constituents and the development community accrues legal fees to overturn their decision. SLIF funding will help support an economic impact study, lead a grassroots campaign and hire a public relations firm to hold elected officials accountable for their decisions.

Estimated project cost: $40,000

Funding request: $20,000

Engaging in the City of Austin CodeNEXT update

HBA of Greater Austin (Texas)

The land development code in Austin has not been updated in 30 years. The HBA engaged its members in the code update called “CodeNEXT.” Public and neighborhood associations also had input on CodeNEXT which influenced city council members and the mayor. The HBA ramped up engagement efforts with CodeNEXT to encourage more and varied housing options, sustainable growth, efficient permitting, and multi-modal mobility that can accommodate the diversity of residential, commercial, cultural and community needs. SLIF funding will help deploy a variety of communication strategies, grassroots engagement, legal counsel and administrative consultants.

Estimated project cost: $500,000

Funding request: $20,000

Home Electrification, Electric Vehicle Charging Installation Mandates

Nevada Home Builders Association

The Nevada legislature passed bill establishing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction goals and required state agencies to complete a statewide inventory of all GHG emissions in the state. The HBA found that the utility company is charging builders different reimbursement rates for townhomes and electric vehicle charging stations due to the misclassification of townhomes. The interpretation is increasing townhome construction costs. SLIF funding will help the HBA conduct an economic impact study and retain a law firm that specializes in utility law and lobbying.

Estimate project cost: $102,000

Funding request: $20,000

Training Pro-Housing Candidates to Run for Office

BIA Of Washington (Olympia, Wash.)

The BIA of Washington and its coalition partners have created a day-long campaign course to train quality pro-business and pro-housing candidates to run successful campaigns. SLIF funding will help increase the frequency of the workshops, provide broader geographical access, and allow the BIA to increase the scope of its offerings, including expanding the instructor pool to continue to deliver top-tier political insight for the attendees. BIAW also plans to create and host additional courses, including campaign manager and campaign staff training and virtual classes on how to build a community profile before running for office.

Estimated project cost: $30,000

Fund request: $20,000

Combatting Mandatory Residential Fire Sprinklers in Delaware

Builders and Remodelers Association of Delaware (BRAD)

A coalition that advocates for fire sprinklers has convinced multiple municipalities to mandate sprinklers in new construction building codes. BRAD is concerned that New Castle County may adopt a fire sprinkler mandate in its building code, which could lead to a statewide mandate. SLIF will help BRAD collect regional data, hire a PR firm, and develop educational materials for elected officials and the public. The association also plans to purchase smoke detectors and distribute them at community events to educate the public on their effectiveness.

Estimated project cost: $20,000

Fund request: $20,000

Fighting the Fire Sprinkler Mandate

Building Industry Association of Hawaii

The Hawaii State Building Code Council considered adopting the 2012 IRC, which mandates the installation of automatic fire sprinklers in one and two-family homes. The BIA led an effort to introduce legislation prohibiting any county from mandating them. This legislation would not only exclude this provision from consideration in state and county codes but would also prohibit fire departments from requiring fire sprinklers in counties as a part of the fire code. With the help of SLIF funding, the BIA will develop an effective public outreach campaign on the issue, its associated costs and reasonable alternatives to automatic fire sprinklers.

Estimated project cost: $60,000

Funding request: $20,000 (NAHB previously approved $10,000. This is an additional request).

Townhome Definition/Fire Sprinklers Issue

HBA of Alabama and Greater Birmingham (Ala.) Association of Home Builders

A city attorney in Alabama issued an opinion that would require the installation of fire sprinklers in new constructed townhomes because in the opinion of the city, a townhouse is not considered a single-family dwelling. The interpretation is based on a state adopted rule that single-family dwellings cannot be an attached. Fire sprinkler systems cost $19,000 per unit to install. The HBAs are teaming up to draft legislation on the state level that will define a single-family dwelling as not limited to “detached” housing.They have contracted with a public relations firm to develop a strategy.

Estimated project cost: $60,000

Funding request: $20,000