Contractors Say Home Construction Costs Will Drastically Increase
At the end of June, building regulations experienced drastic changes in the Pikes Peak region, a development expected to create another spike in the costs of constructing new homes and doing remodels.
Moreover, the new regs could serve as a big blow to the effort to facilitate more affordable housing in the region.
The Pikes Peak Regional Building Department, which oversees construction in El Paso County and the city of Woodland Park, adopted the 2021 International Building Code, while the Teller County Building Department okayed the 2018 code.
Over the last few months, the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department has launched a campaign to inform citizens and construction contractors of the implementation of the new changes. The building department has tried to educate people on the significant changes to these new code requirements, including holding a training session in Woodland Park.
According to Pikes Peak Regional Building Department Public Information Officer Greg Dingrando, the changes to local building codes occur every six years. When making the changes, the building department uses the most up to date International Building Code, which was last released in 2021.
He said that there have been changes made at the state level that required codes to be changed this year.
“There was a bill that passed last year that kind of forced building departments to at least adopt the 2021 un-amended 2021 building code,” Dingrando said. “So ,we adopted out ahead of it so we could include our amendments. So as long as we adopt the new code before July 1, we are allowed to include some of those amendments to the International Building Code. We see it as a way to basically lessen the changes. It is more of a stepping stone to moving to those codes later on.”
Dingrando said that every six years when the codes change. some of the changes make things easier for construction contractors, while others force them to do things quite differently. “The reason we need to do a code change is because technology changes so often,” Dingrando stated. “If we never did a code change, then new technology could come along that we didn’t have six years ago and it wouldn’t be allowed. So, they (regulation changes) are necessary for us to keep up with the times with technology, different materials, and of course the big change this cycle was just a lot more energy efficient practices.”
What Are the Major Changes to Building Codes?
This time around, the change in code encompassed a number of new requirements that have sparked much outrage among contractors, business owners and local officials. They contend that these new rules will increase the already escalating costs of building a home and doing a remodel. And according to Dingrando, many of these focus on energy conservation.
To help contractors, the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department published a document entitled “Significant Changes to the 2021 International Building Code” on their website. The document points out several of the major changes to both the residential and commercial building codes that will affect new construction and remodels.
Local Contractors Say New Regulations Will Drive Up Construction Costs
Local construction businesses in the area say the new regulations will increase building costs at a time where the region is struggling due to a lack of affordable housing options. Some contractors have said that the requirement for upgraded electrical switches alone will change the price of a two dollar switch up to around $20 per switch. They have also said that other requirements that have to do with thicker insulation will also be costly.
According to the owner of Smith-Woodland Inc. Jeff Smith, the new regulations will drive the cost of a new home up by around $30,000. He also said that the new insulation requirements will cause a significant cost increase for builders.
“We will have to put R-49 insulation in the roof and we are at R-38 now,” Smith said. “You also have to have more insulation in the walls than the R-19 that is required now. When you start adding more insulation, you have to do a different truss design and it changes a lot of stuff.”
According to the owner of Andersen Enterprises, Inc. Carl Andersen, people will also have to pay more to remodel their homes as well as purchasing a new one. “There is going to be additional testing required and there’s going to be different engineering required,” Andersen explained. “It is going to slow down the process of building anything and then cost more. So, the end result is, it is going to make houses even less affordable than they already are.”
He said that those wishing to add onto or remodel their homes will also see a drastic cost increase. “Let’s just say you are going to do an addition on your house, your addition is going to have to meet this new code,” Andersen said. “If the addition is a certain size or bigger, then parts of your original house are also going to meet certain parts of this code.”
He said that another change in the code requires a blower door test after the house is built with the new codes. “The blower door test sucks the air out of the house and you’re only allowed so many air changes per hour,” Andersen stated. “And if it fails the test, you’re supposed to figure out where it failed the test and fix it. And that’s not going to be easy once a house is finished.”
He did say that some of the changes will not go into effect immediately on July 1. Some of the new changes to the code will be implemented six months to a year down the road.
But he also said that permit fees will also be going up in the future. Being a member of the county’s Board of Review, he has tried to get Teller County to not higher the permit fees as drastically.
Overall, people buying new homes or looking to add on or remodel in the Pikes Peak Region should do their research and be prepared for elevated costs compared to what they would have been before July 1, 2023.
Parts of the article were first published on https://themaverickobserver.com/