Voting members of the International Code Council will once again consider an amendment to move the requirement to install fire sprinkler systems in one- and two-family homes from the main body of the International Residential Code – where it has been since 2009 – back to the appendix.
It makes a difference because when a requirement is part of the main body, it’s much easier for states, counties and local jurisdictions to adopt it lock, stock and barrel when it comes time to update the building codes. When it’s in the appendix, the jurisdiction has to decide to amend the model code to include the requirement.
That’s not been an issue for fire sprinkler requirements, though. The overwhelming majority of states have decided that installing the systems should be an option, not a mandate, for home buyers. And the overwhelming majority of home buyers have decided that the systems are not worth the additional expense.
This set of tables and maps produced by the NAHB Construction, Codes and Standards Department breaks it down: By either the code adoption process or legislative action, 44 states have rejected fire sprinkler requirements. Only two states – California and Maryland – require them for all new one- and two-family homes.
Delaware, Colorado, Illinois and Wyoming have not chosen to pursue statewide requirements, although Delaware builders are required to give buyers a cost estimate for sprinklers and install them if the buyer wants.
NAHB agrees that fire sprinklers should be an option for all home buyers, and in fact has helped state and local HBAs create materials that their builders can use to offer that option. But the price – the Fire Protection Research Association puts the average cost per system at about $6,000 – can make new homes unaffordable for many buyers.
In addition, today’s smoke alarms, coupled with recent advances in building science and in the building codes themselves – make new homes safer than ever before.
For additional information, contact NAHB’s Dan Buuck at 800-368-5242 x8366.