June 10, 2012

Building code takes effect next month

The new code sets higher standards for insulation, radon gas mitigation and more in 34 communities.

By BEN MCCANNA Morning Sentinel

Beginning next month, 34 Maine towns will enforce a new building code.

The code is called MUBEC, or Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code, and it sets higher standards for insulation, radon gas mitigation and much more, for newly built homes and commercial buildings.

The code also means higher costs for the builders who must comply with the code, and the towns that enforce it.

The code was originally passed by the state Legislature in 2008, and reworked in 2011. Towns with populations greater than 4,000 are required to adopt it -- 89 municipalities in all. Fifty-five of those communities have already adopted the code. The 34 holdouts have until July 1.

The new uniform code is a combination of six existing ones, including the International Residential Code, which covers one- and two-family homes; the International Building Code, which covers everything else; and the International Energy Conservation Code..

Pete McPherson, a certified third-party inspector in Hallowell, said there are seven different aspects of each project that need to be inspected, but some of those can be done during the same trip.

He estimates each project will cost a minimum of $1,000 in inspection fees, but the cost could go much higher.

Assistant State Fire Marshal Richard McCarthy oversees the code and its adoption throughout Maine. He said the additional cost for insulation is worthwhile. He also said the code protects reputable builders and homeowners.

"The issue is standardization," McCarthy said. "It's making the builder's job easier, because it's just one code. It's not 50 different codes throughout the state of Maine."

McPherson noted that the additional costs for insulation will ultimately save money.

"It will increase the cost of the house by about 3 percent ... but you're going to recognize those savings in the first two or three years, just in efficiency," he said.

Morning Sentinel Staff Writer Ben McCanna can be reached at 861-9239 or:



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