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On June 7, Governor Greg Abbott signed Texas House Bill 738 (HB 738), which amends sections of Texas’ Local Government Code and establishes the 2012 International Building Code (IBC) and International Residential Code (IRC) as the statewide municipal statutory codes for commercial, multi-family and residential construction in Texas. The IBC and IRC are part of the International Code Council’s family of building safety codes, the International Codes (I-Codes) — the most widely accepted, comprehensive set of model codes used in the United States. Prior to HB 738, Texas had the oldest State Statutory IRC (2000) and IBC (2003) on the books to date in the U.S.
“On behalf of the International Code Council, I was honored to work collaboratively with Representative Dennis Paul of Houston, the Texas General Land Office and a coalition of Texas stakeholders including the Building Officials Association of Texas (BOAT) to successfully advocate for the Lone Star State to update its statutory IRC and IBC codes. The Code Council commends Governor Greg Abbott for signing HB 738 into law and Texas for taking a proactive approach to adopting more modern codes across all municipalities,” said Kelly Sadler, government relations senior regional manager for Texas, International Code Council. “This is an important step in the right direction for Texas to promote resilience and to mitigate disasters. We look forward to Texas taking many more steps to safeguard the safety of its citizens in the future.”
Adopting and enforcing the most up-to-date building codes not only reflects a jurisdiction’s commitment to the health and safety of its citizens but helps to preserve building resilience and durability in the face of increasingly severe weather events. As a minimum safeguard, building codes establish a building’s safety and energy performance for years to come.
“BOAT is dedicated to enhancing the standards of uniformity and efficiency in administering and enforcing model building codes,” said Jeffrey Widmer, CBO, building official, City of Rockwall, Texas, BOAT president. “Promoting adoption of the ICC codes is consistent with our mission. We were pleased to offer our assistance to the International Code Council in their effort to successfully update the statutory codes in our great state of Texas.”
As the intensity and frequency of natural hazards like hurricanes continue to increase, HB 738 follows the recommendations of two significant Texas Hurricane Harvey Reports — Eye of the Storm: Report of the Governor’s Commission to Rebuild Texas and Hurricane Harvey: Texas at Risk. According to a recent FEMA study, if all future construction adhered to up-to-date I-Codes, the U.S. would avoid more than $600 billion in cumulative losses from floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes by 2060. Additionally, the National Institute of Building Sciences estimates that adopting modern editions of the I-Codes saves $11 for every $1 invested through mitigation benefits against those hazards.
“In Texas, seventy-eight percent of the municipalities have a population of less than 10,000 and in a majority of those, adoption of the latest editions of codes is not a priority. However, properly constructed homes and businesses provide life and fire safety to the occupants. In addition to providing this safety, the adoption and enforcement of current building codes are a major factor in a city’s Insurance Services Office (ISO) rating,” said Shirley Ellis, CBO, ICC Board of Directors, building official, City of Bastrop, Texas. “As a building official in a Texas city of less than 10,000, I am privileged to have a city council who understands the importance of the adoption and enforcement of current codes. Now that HB 738 is passed, I believe we will increase and improve the consistent updating of codes across the state.”
Model building codes are the foundation of a community and form an ecosystem of building policies that support the health, safety and welfare of the neighborhoods that adopt them. As the safeguard for our homes, schools, entertainment centers, workplaces, and every type of building in between, the adoption of both the IBC and IRC by Texas will create a uniformity that ensures maximum efficiency, resilience and safety for its citizens.