Ohio’s newly adopted residential building code will require new homes to be more energy-efficient, come with carbon-monoxide detectors and be tested for air leaks.
The code was adopted by the Ohio Department of Commerce’s Board of Building Standards after passing final procedural hurdles this month. It’s scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1.
The new rules are estimated to add between $1,100 and $1,200 to the cost of an 1,800-square-foot two-story home.
“Hopefully, the homeowner might notice these changes on their utility bills,” said Columbus homebuilder, CraigTuckerman, who served on the code’s advisory committee.
A 2009 U.S. Department of Energy study of a similar proposed code change in Boston found that homeowners could save about $230 a year in energy costs with the new guidelines
Tuckerman said many Ohio builders, especially custom builders, already meet or exceed most provisions of the new code.
Among other code requirements, carbon-monoxide detectors must be installed outside each bedroom in a home that uses gas or propane or includes an attached garage. Homes must meet an air-tightness standard that includes a blower-door test. And at least 75 percent of light bulbs in new homes must be high-efficiency, such as compact fluorescent bulbs.
While it won’t radically change the way homes are constructed, the code had sparked considerable debate since its introduction more than three years ago.
Environmental groups such as the Sierra Club favored the tougher energy requirements, while Ohio homebuilders argued the new code would excessively boost the cost of a new home.
The Ohio Home Builders Association opposed the initial proposal. But at the urging of builders, the code now includes a compromise provision to provide contractors two ways to meet the tougher energy requirements. They can either follow the International Code Council guidelines or follow an alternative set of guidelines designed by builders to achieve the same energy efficiency.
“I think they came up with a code that works,” Vincent Squillace, executive vice president of the Ohio Home Builders Association, told the newspaper. “We came up with an equivalent code that’s more strict but is about $2,000 cheaper per home to implement than the original code.”
Debbie Ohler, staff engineer for the Ohio Board of Building Standards, said the code also recognizes new materials and methods of construction. The board will administer the code.
“It’s definitely an improvement,” Ohler told the newspaper. “It also incorporates requirements that provide for safer homes, but at the same time, it incorporates more stringent energy requirements, which should save homeowners money.”