The start of this year marks the end of the traditional 6 year cycle for Building Codes in the state of Minnesota. Starting on January 24th, 2015, the state will be adopting the 2012 IRC and Energy Code. The bad news: new regulations and a few changes to how we build new homes. The good news: There won’t be any more changes until 2021!
While Croix has been working to ensure we hit the ground running with all the new codes, we figured now would be a good time to explain some of the more substantial changes.
- Fire Sprinklers: Probably the largest change is the necessary use of fire sprinklers in single family homes larger than 4500 sqft, and all townhomes regardless of size. While we will include sprinkler notes on the plans, the best bet is to speak with your builder or an outside contractor to learn all of the specifics.
- Foundation Insulation: Another sizeable change, all new homes are required to have an insulation R-value of 15 or greater at the foundation, with at least R-10 on the exterior. This can produce a problem in protecting the insulation, as well as keeping a clean exterior appearance when different pieces do not line up. Luckily, we have been hard at work producing our solution, as well as researching new materials that meet this requirement.
- Wall and Attic Insulation: This change is to promote a tighter building envelope, as well as creating a more efficient house. While there is an up-front cost associated with better insulation, the savings, both on your wallet and quality of life, tend to add up in the long run. The change in wall insulation is from an R-19 to an R-20 or R-13+5. Rim Joist areas must also be an R-20, up from the older R-10. Attic insulation in the roof area now must meet R-49, rather than R-44 of days past.
- Waterproofing Foundation: In the past, it was acceptable to use damp-proofing products rather than full waterproofing. Waterproofing is now mandatory for all concrete and masonry block foundation walls.
- Blower Door Testing: Every new home must be tested for air tightness with a blower door, and cannot exceed 3 exchanges per hour. This helps to ensure that your home is built properly and free of air leaks, so that your mechanical systems may operate more efficiently. This test must be conducted by a third party to ensure accuracy.
There are a few more, smaller changes that are not discussed. If you are interested in learning more about how the new codes may affect your new home or development, give us a call! Keep in mind that while these changes go into effect on January 24th, any plans submitted for permit by the 23rd will be judged based on the current codes.
For more information, see the MN Department of Labor Website: http://www.dli.mn.gov/ccld/codes.asp