Building codes that would have far-reaching effects are being considered by the Bradley County Commissioners. A room full of concerned residents of the county came to the commission meeting Monday night, most opposed to adopting the revised International Building Codes.
The audience was told that Bradley County is currently under the International Building Codes that were last implemented in 2012. The question before the commission now is how they should be updated. The state of Tennessee has given a seven-year window for the revisions to be made without facing consequences such as losing FEMA money.
One way this can be done, is by using the IBC codes which are building regulations developed and accepted by international countries including the U.S. The other option is for the county to create its own set of regulations. The citizens were told that this may be the last time that Bradley County has the ability to opt out of the international model.
All but one of those in attendance spoke in favor of the county creating its own set of standards while citing their concerns with the rigorous requirements in the IBC. If adopted, any improvements or construction must be done by a licensed contractor, which would prevent property owners from doing any work themselves, it was stated. Included in the rules are features such as a required sprinkler system in all buildings, residential as well as commercial. Another condition is that for the sale of property to occur, the new building code requirements would need to be made prior to the sale. “I don’t think we need to abide by rules of other countries,” said one speaker.
To off-set the increased costs of implementing the IBC codes, building costs would have to increase as well as the property taxes and insurance to cover the structures. It is feared that increased prices would also affect re-sale values of houses. It was suggested that implementing the IBC would likely also prevent people from making renovations to property for re-sale. Since work would have to be done by a licensed contractor, prices would increase deterring a sale.
Commissioner Dan Rawls said he preferred to opt out of using the IBC codes and to keep the ones that are currently in place. Those can be updated by the county as needed, using elements from the IBC if desired. He also proposed that builders and contractors that are on the Bradley County board of commissioners recuse themselves from the vote since they would benefit from passage.
The Bradley County Commission will have a work session next Monday at noon in the mayor’s conference room. Interested citizens will be given the chance to speak about the building code question.