WHEN WILL THE CODES GO INTO EFFECT?
The new construction codes go into effect on April 1, 2022.
WHAT CODES ARE BEING UPDATED?
Houston codes updated from the 2012 to 2015 editions include the: International Building Code, International Residential Code, International Fire Code, Uniform Mechanical Code, and Uniform Plumbing Code. The National Electrical Code will be updated from 2014 to the 2020 edition. The 2015 International Existing Building Code and 2018 International Swimming Pool & Spa Code will be included.
WILL THERE BE TRAINING ON THE NEW CODES?
Yes. Training sessions will be available and posted on the Houston Code Development website which can be accessed using the following link: https://www.houstonpermittingcenter.org/building-code-enforcement/code-development
IS THE ENERGY CODE BEING UPDATED?
No. Houston’s Energy Code will remain under the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code.
WHERE ARE THE NEW CODES POSTED?
International Codes are posted online at the International Code Council (ICC) website and can be accessed using the following link: https://codes.iccsafe.org/public/collections/I-Codes
The Plumbing & Mechanical Codes are posted online at the IAPMO website and can be accessed using the following link: http://codes.iapmo.org/default.aspx
The Houston Amendments to all codes are posted online here: https://www.houstonpermittingcenter.org/building-code-enforcement/code-development
IF AN EXISTING PROJECT REQUIRES REVISIONS, WILL IT NEED TO BE UPDATED TO THE NEW CODES?
No. Revisions to existing projects are submitted under the codes used during the original plan review. Only new projects submitted after April 1, 2022, will need to comply with new codes.
IF THE DESIGN OF A PROJECT FALLS UNDER THE OLD CODE, CAN IT STILL BE SUBMITTED AFTER THE NEW CODES GO INTO EFFECT?
Yes. All projects that have applied for a permit before April 1, 2022, will be locked into the existing code. A grace period will also be available for substantially completed projects.
WILL SOLAR-READY PROVISIONS STILL BE IN EFFECT?
Yes. Solar-Ready provisions (Appendix U) of the Residential Code will still be in effect.
WHAT ARE THE NEW REQUIREMENTS FOR WATER SENSORS IN ELEVATORS?
Elevators in buildings located in the 100- and 500-year floodplains, and/or that travel below surface level, must include a water sensor installed in the elevator shaft. Water sensors will need to be installed by December 31, 2026, or within five years after the building's annexation date.
WHAT IS THE NEW SOUND TRANSMISSION APPENDIX?
The new Residential Code (Appendix K) will require increased sound protection insulation in between units of multi-family properties (townhomes, apartments, condos, etc.). This will not apply to single-family homes.
DOES LOW VOLTAGE WIRING NEED A LICENSED ELECTRICIAN FOR INSTALLATION?
No, the proposed elimination of the permit exemption for low voltage wiring (50 volts or less) does not require installation to be completed by a licensed electrician. It does require a permit to be obtained by a licensed electrical contractor. However, this proposed change has been postponed until the next code cycle.
WHY IS A CERTIFICATE OF COMPLIANCE REQUIRED FOR RESIDENTIAL BUILDINGS?
Requiring a Certificate of Compliance (CC) on all residential buildings will ensure homeowners are moving into a code-compliant residence that provides adequate fire- and life-safety to the occupants. It also ensures the permit receives a final inspection and a project final prior to occupancy.
WHY IS PROTECTION REQUIRED ON RESIDENTIAL WATER SOFTENERS?
By state law, the City of Houston is required to protect the city's water supply from all contamination. The requirement for water softeners to be equipped with a double check valve assembly is to protect the City of Houston water supply from backflow contamination. Air gaps are not a part of a water softener assembly, and other types of protection like vacuum breakers and dual check valves do not provide an adequate level of protection due to possible back-siphonage.
WHAT ARE THE CHANGES TO THE FIRE SEPARATION DISTANCE?
The new minimum nationally recognized fire separation distance between structures will require 5 feet when no added fire protection is given. Where the separation distance is less than 5 feet, the code will require one of the following:
- one-hour fire-resistance-rated exterior wall construction and protected projections for the portion of the building located less than 5-feet to the property line, or
- fire-sprinkler protection based on an NFPA 13D sprinkler system
FOR MORE INFORMATION
For questions about the code adoption, please contact Heath Wierck at [email protected].
Last update: November 29, 2021