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Published: Wednesday, 2/16/2005

Monroe County: Builders mull new residential construction rules

TEMPERANCE - Put in place last year by the state and set to take effect Feb. 28, the updated Michigan Uniform Energy Code brings Michigan into compliance with the International Energy Conservation Code adopted by most states, including Ohio, several years ago.

It mandates that new residential construction take steps to reduce home energy usage dramatically, either through increasing insulation in walls, foundation, and ceilings; reducing air leakage; installing very-high-efficiency heating and air conditioning equipment, or some combination of the three. Existing homes are exempt from the new code until they are renovated enough so as to require a plan review and building permit.

The new rules this month prompted the Michigan Association of Home Builders to file a lawsuit in Lansing to block their implementation, with the association arguing that they would dramatically drive up the costs of new and remodeled homes and lead to job losses.

A hearing on the suit is scheduled Feb. 24.

But many local minds are more at ease.

"After the whole process and the whole system is explained, it's just building a house the way I've always built a house; it's just that the documentation and the paperwork is different," said Chuck Sedlar, owner of NorthPoint Builders.

"If you were building a good, well-built home to begin with, with the technology that we have today, there should be no problem complying with these new rules."

Bedford Township building inspector Dennis Kohler said the new regulations would add some costs to the homes built by contractors who don't already comply with the new standards, but the regulations allow several different methods for builders to comply, including some methods that are far less expensive than others.

"It's going to mean a little more paperwork to submit to me [for a plan review], but they should be able to comply. . . .it's going to be like $900 to $1,500 maybe," Mr. Kohler said.



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