Updated Jackson codes should increase safety, contractors say

Monday, July 2, 2012

The city of Jackson updated a number of its construction codes in June and local builders say that compliance with the new guidelines creates safety for customers and contractors.

"The codes set standards of materials and workmanship and design to protect the

homeowners and also the contractors from liability issues," said Rich Roark, owner of Roark Construction in Jackson.

Following the codes isn't hard, Roark said, but in tough economic times disreputable companies may try to cut costs by ignoring specifications and requirements to lure customers with low bids for work.

"Building codes is what separates a real contractor from all these other guys out there that are putting contractors out of business," Roark said.

Finding out about code changes is another matter.

Kenneth Bland, owner of Kenneth Bland Carpentry in Jackson, said that when he learns of an upgrade in any city where he is licensed to work, he adheres to the latest guidelines on all jobs, regardless of location.

Roark said that unexpected code changes made between the time he has bid a job and the point at which he obtain permits has caused him to underbid work, costing him money later. He'd like to see a system by which licensed contractors are notified by email or mail when cities make updates.

Janet Sanders, building and planning superintendent for Jackson, said that handouts are provided with new permits and city inspectors have been working to verbally notify contractors working within the city of new guidelines. Code books are available for review at the building and planning department, city clerk's office and the Jackson public library, and can be ordered from the publisher through the planning office or online.

The city aims to update its codes every six years, along with every alternate code cycle, and trains staff according to opportunities based on the most current versions, Sanders said.

Jackson transitioned from U.S. to internationally-accepted codes in 2004 and the board of aldermen passed the most recent update June 4. The changes bring Jackson in line with Cape Girardeau, Perryville, Mo., and Sikeston, Mo., she said, who have already updated to the 2009 version of international codes.

In May, the city also changed its excavation permit standards, adding specific backfill and compaction guidelines intended to decrease damages caused when repairs under pavement or in yards sink because of improper soil restoration.

"The change that we think will be most noticeable is that certain commercial and assembly uses now require sprinkler systems if the occupancy load is over 100 as opposed to the previous occupancy load of 300," Sanders said. "The hot topic with the 2009 International Residential Code update was the inclusion of a requirement for residential sprinklers. However, the State of Missouri enacted legislation that prohibits enforcement of that section until at least Dec. 31, 2019."

Both Roark and Bland said customers' wallets are most affected when codes change.

Bland estimated that there is about a 6 percent increase in building prices caused by the additional materials the upgraded guidelines demand.

To get the best value and avoid shoddy work that could be costly later, Roark urged consumers to make sure contractors are licensed and have proof of insurance and to contact the city office of inspections and permits to find out if they have a record of complaints.

The following codes were adopted by the city of Jackson in June:

* 2009 Edition of the International Fire Prevention Code

* 2011 Edition of the National Electric Code

* 2009 Edition of the International Plumbing Code

* 2009 Edition of the International Mechanical Code

* 2009 Edition of the International Fuel Gas Code

* 2009 Edition of the International Building Code

* 2009 Edition of the International Residential Code

salderman@semissourian.com

388-3648

Pertinent address:

101 Court St., Jackson, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: