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Are You Ready For the New Sprinkler Requirements?

Date:               November 18, 2016

To:                    Home Builders Association of Delaware Members

Subjects:        Outline of Residential Sprinkler Requirements per HB 133 Effective 1/1/17

As of 1/1/17, builders of new dwellings in Delaware (defined as 1 or 2 family residential dwellings, not previously occupied, and constructed for residential use) are required to provide buyers the option to have installed, at the buyer’s cost, a residential sprinkler system/fire suppression system in their home. What does this mean for you the builder?

Before the buyer signs the final contract, you (the builder) must give the buyer three items which are:

  • “The Benefits of Home Fire Sprinklers” Brochure (prepared by the Delaware State Fire Marshal). This brochure was prepared without the opportunity for HBA/DE to provide any input in its substance.  A pdf copy of this brochure is attached, however you can download from the State Fire Marshal website http://statefiremarshal.delaware.gov/ (NOTE we will have a limited supply, first come first served, of printed brochures in our office beginning Noon Monday 11/21/16 if you want to pick some up. Please call before you come 302-678-1520. Due to cost expenses we will not be able to mail them).

  • The estimated written cost to install the automatic sprinkler system.

  • The estimated written cost to maintain the sprinkler system.

Attached is a draft addendum that we have put together for your use which may protect you from receiving a $75-$100 fine for your first offense and $100-250 for subsequent offenses plus any liability if there is an eventual fire in the home. The buyer would need to acknowledge that they were given the above items and whether they want or do not want the sprinkler system to be installed. You are required to get their signature on the form as your proof that they were given the required information. If the buyer requests the installation of an automatic fire sprinkler system or other requested fire suppression system, the builder will install at the buyer’s expense. We recommend strongly that your attorney review the draft addendum before you begin using.  A copy of the state legislation, HB 133, is attached for your use.

We are asking that all builder members comply with this new law, given that some home buyers may not want to purchase a sprinkler system in their home. We are asking that as you receive the signed buyer addendums, you furnish to HBADE a copy of all signed addendums, email to info@hbade.org.  This will provide us aggregate data which demonstrates how many buyers have chosen sprinklers and how many have not. 

There are many unanswered questions concerning the implementation of HB 133 and some misleading information in the brochure that the member will receive. Some of these include:

  • The fire marshal’s brochure states an approximate cost of installing a sprinkler/fire suppression system to be $1.75-$1.80 per square foot. This cost is for a simple home with municipal water and no special design issues or upcharges. Our research shows that there can be a wide range in cost and that this number is likely very underestimated. Upcharges that affect pricing includes adding a pump/tank or concealed heads, retro-fitting if it is a spec house and drywall is already installed, additional water service to the house, if the house is on a well it may need a generator to operate the well if a power outage occurs, anti-freeze systems in cold areas, and backflow prevention. You will need to check with your water supplier on their policy and costs. You should also price sprinklers with your subcontractor and installer.  The State Fire Marshal may maintain a list of sprinkler installers.

  • Currently, residential fire suppression systems in single family homes are not governed by any jurisdiction in the State of Delaware. This means that there is no one to review or inspect these new systems.

  • The fire marshal’s brochure claims that these systems are “relatively maintenance free”. This is not always the case, however we recommend you research the factors and costs of maintaining a sprinkler system.

We recommend that you, the builder, quote a price that includes all of the associated costs for sprinklers, including water service into the home.

We have investigated with Artesian Water Company regarding the requirements for sprinkler service lines.  They provided the following:

  • Artesian would require a meter pit ( $900). The service line would be split inside this pit creating a separate service line. 1 domestic and 1 fire

  • This could be done with a ¾ service but the flow requirements would need to be verified by sprinkler designer. A 1”service line would work better

  • It is possible that a booster pump could be added to the fire line to achieve the required flow

  • There would be a charge for this dual meter from Artesian to owner however is it around $2 per month.

Artesian does not service water to the entire State, and you will need to check with your specific water provider.

Summary, below are links for the previously mentioned documents:

“The Benefits of Home Fire Sprinklers” Brochure – Sprinkler Brochure Click Here

Draft Delaware Residential Sprinkler Requirements Addendum – Sprinkler Addendum

House Bill 133 which enacted this law – Sprinkler Law Click Here

About HBA of Delaware

HBA/DE has been an integral part of the growth and economic development of the State of Delaware since 1947. HBA/DE was founded as a non-profit state affiliate of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) representing home builders and other businesses directly related to Delaware's Home Building Industry. Consisting of Builders, Remodelers and a group of diversified associate members, the Home Builders Association of Delaware strives to protect and preserve housing as a symbol of America. www.hbade.org

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