Modular Building Institute

Discussion Forum

Concrete Industry Cements the Fate of Offsite Standards at ICC Hearing

Original Comment:
Last week, several hundred code officials from around the country gathered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for the rite of passage known as the “code development process” for our country. At the annual meeting of the International Code Council (ICC), proposals were considered for the 2024 version of the International Building Code (IBC), among others.

In addition to sending our Government Affairs Director to testify, MBI retained the services of a code consulting company to help navigate the tricky waters of this process.

Quick background:
For the past two years, MBI has been heavily involved in the development of two new ANSI standards – now published and referred to as “ICC/MBI 1200” and “ICC/MBI 1205.” We submitted a proposal to have these two standards referenced and adopted into the 2024 IBC. That proposal was disapproved by the ICC committee during the hearings a few months ago, due to a variety of concerns. The standards working group took that feedback in stride, revised, and finalized the standards, and submitted a new proposed code change for this latest public hearing.

The way the process works is that the standing motion on the floor is the recommendation from the committee – which was for disapproval of our standards. So, our first hurdle was to get the voting members of the ICC to vote AGAINST the standing motion of the floor for disapproval. And we needed a two-thirds majority to overturn the committee.

One of the groups to speak against the standards during the first committee hearings were representatives from the precast and concrete industries, indicating that they were already covered under the special inspections section in Chapter 17 of the IBC.

The standards working group listened to these concerns and addressed them in our new proposal by specifically exempting components inspected to Chapter 17 from provisions of this standard. That should have been enough for this group to either support our standard, or at least stand down. It was not.

At the hearing, multiple representatives from these sectors stepped up to the podium, misrepresented what our standards addressed, and continued to pile-on about their special inspections – even though we met with them directly and informed them of their exemption from this standard.

Given the nature of code officials and the voting process, any perceived negative comments are difficult to overcome, especially when you have a two-thirds hurdle to clear. It’s much easier to kill a proposal than to get one passed. After less than ten minutes of testimony, the ICC members voted to uphold the committee recommendation for disapproval of our standards.

What does that mean going forward?
The earliest that the modular and offsite construction industry will be referenced in the base model of the International Building Code will be 2027 – and that’s the best-case scenario. We will continue to work directly with states to pursue direct adoption outside their code development cycle. We may also attempt to get these standards referenced in the 2024 version of the International Residential Building Code and push for greater adoption through that path.

In any case, it will be a rocky road ahead for standards adoption. A road that could have been smoother with some help from our concrete friends.
Started on September 29, 2021 by Tom Hardiman
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