Building Code Updates for Florida and Illinois: Fits and Starts

Building Code Updates for Florida and Illinois: Fits and Starts

Florida puts a code roll-back on hold, while Illinois takes steps toward adopting the 2015 IECC.
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Thursday, July 30, 2015 - 8:00am

CAMPAIGN: Code Watch



HB 915 was introduced in early March, and it aimed to roll the state’s building code back from the recently adopted 2014 version to the 2010 code. This bill, among other things, would have done away with blower door testing in favor of visual inspections for air sealing. After a third reading and at least one amendment, it passed the House and was sent over to the Senate. However, in a surprise move, the Speaker of the House abruptly decided to adjourn for the remainder of the session. All pending legislation was in essence tossed out on May 1.

This stunning decision was apparently the result of a dispute between House and Senate over the Affordable Care Act, even though both chambers are under Republican control. According to one source, the adjournment was tantamount to shutting down the state government. If that is indeed a fair assessment, then building codes are probably not the state’s biggest concern right now. But where does this leave the state’s building industry?

According to another source we spoke with, in an unfavorable position. Why? The 2014 Florida Building Code calls for a blower door test to confirm a maximum of 5 air changes per hour (ACH). It also requires a whole-house ventilation system when the air infiltration rate is less than 5 ACH. The combination of these two requirements opens the door (pun intended) for higher indoor air quality, but it also makes for higher construction costs. The way the code is written, mechanical ventilation is required for all new construction. In Florida, there are some homes that don’t have furnaces or air conditioning; now, all new homes will have to have one or the other. And because some construction is slab on grade, attics will have to be redesigned to accommodate the ductwork, unless ductless mini-splits are specced.