Oberlander Sets Repealing Home Sprinkler Mandate As Top Economic Priority

State Rep. Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion/Armstrong) announced today that she is introducing legislation to make several substantial amendments to Pennsylvania’s Uniform Construction Code (UCC).  The most notable amendment will be the immediate repeal of the code’s sprinkler mandate for all newly constructed single family and duplex homes which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2011. 

“This February as our nation celebrates President Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday, Pennsylvania’s new home sprinkler mandate provides the perfect modern day example of what America’s 40th President meant when he said government is not the solution, but the problem,” said Oberlander.   “Make no mistake, both new home building which represents no less than 14 percent of our state’s Gross Domestic Product and, ultimately the dream of home ownership are in severe jeopardy.  This is not a question of reforming this overkill regulation, but bringing about complete and total repeal by enacting my legislation.”    

Despite estimated building cost increases ranging between $3,000 and $15,000 per newly constructed home, depending on the size and design, in December 2009, Pennsylvania became the first state in the nation to implement this non-voluntary compliance measure as part of the triennial adoption of the International Codes Council (ICC) family of technical building codes.   

“Obviously, during these tough economic times, the thousands of dollars in increased and unnecessary costs surrounding Pennsylvania’s UCC code sprinkler mandate poses serious concerns for the growth and very survival of the home construction industry,” said Oberlander.   “An equally important issue surrounding the sprinkler requirement for newly constructed homes is overall accessibility and additional strain this requirement will have on existing water systems in both urban and rural settings.    

“Local officials are rightfully concerned about newly constructed homes built in areas relying on public utilities due to the added cost and complexity of running distinct pipelines to each home for separate use.   New homes constructed in rural areas will likely encounter the added difficulty of inadequate water availability due to the lack of public utilities and the necessary water pressure needed to effectively operate each individual new home sprinkler system,” Oberlander added.        

Fully supported by the Pennsylvania Builders Association, Oberlander’s legislation contains additional provisions to correct several other immediate problems with the 2009 ICC codes, the costs of which are inevitably passed along and absorbed by new home buyers.  These provisions include: 

  • Adding several new members to make the PA UCC Review and Advisory Council a more balanced body and eliminating the Council’s automatic adoption of ICC code revisions every three years. 
  • Requiring the UCC Review and Advisory Council to engage in a more thorough and deliberative operating process, including holding public hearings in different parts of the Commonwealth and submitting a detailed report to the secretary of Labor and Industry. 
  • Allowing log home builders to follow alternative energy standards, as passed unanimously by the state Senate last session (House Bill 1196). 
  • Addressing wall bracing, range hood, dryer duct length and other burdensome or unnecessary 2009 International Residential Code (IRC) requirements. 
  • Implementing a provision from the proposed 2012 IRC to protect the underside of floors from fire damage, thus making new homes safer for firefighters in the event of an emergency. 

“If generating sustained economic growth is truly the goal of the Republican-controlled General Assembly and Governor Tom Corbett, then one of our first priorities must be to permanently extinguish Pennsylvania’s residential sprinkler mandate,” said Oberlander.   “In the bigger picture, we must completely revamp the current process for adopting the latest ICC codes to ensure that Pennsylvania citizens are no longer burdened with non-legislated mandates.  By removing intrusive, bureaucratic government from the home-building and home-buying equation, my legislation provides a solid foundation to accomplish both of these critical objectives.”  

For the latest legislative updates, visit RepOberlander.com or Facebook.com/RepOberlander

State Representative Donna Oberlander
63rd District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Contact:  Ty McCauslin

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