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building codes


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2007 Merit Award Winner

Dale's Forum Posts: 380
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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 8/24/2005


ahh yes, the fight with city hall

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By Netie in Salt Lake City, UT on 8/26/2005


There's hope!

Over a decade ago, when I first dreamed of building with straw bale, you could only build in counties that had no building codes.  

I was living in the Seattle area and didn't have a chance.  Moving to Utah's Wasatch Front in the late '90's - nope, no chance either and the head of the Salt Lake building dept was even quoted saying 'no way, never on my watch'.  He's long gone and in 2002 a gorgeous hybrid straw bale/block house was built in downtown Salt Lake as a community charity project.   

These counties, IMO, were primarily in sparsely inhabited areas & happened not to have codes because they didn't have the tax/funds/government to regulate over vast areas of open land.  If it wasn't for all those "weirdo & freaks" living in nowhere, blazing trails, we wouldn't have Progress. 

I haven't any imput as to actual codes here, I haven't done any hard research since my DH thinks that we wouldn't be able to sell a house built out of straw - no matter how beautiful it looks.


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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 8/30/2005


Actually the new building codes (IRC 2003) encourage out-of the-box thinking.

ICF's, SIP's, steel are all part of the regular code now. In Arizona and New Mexico, straw bale, adobe, rammed earth and cob construction are all considered as "approved" building technologies.

Getting your local jurisdiction to accept something "unusual to the area" may take only a little supportive evidence that others have done it.

The construction industry tends to be very conservative. One reason is because lawyers are too willing to accept cases that harm small construction companies who want to explore new ideas. So the attitude tends to be protective and follow the herd. Even having a homeowner request something new and "exotic" does not protect the contractor; he "should have known better" or "should have talked the client out of something untried..."

Or the issue comes along of the real estate professional,  who says, "...nothing in the area to comp to". And, "...you'll have to accept a lower price for being outside what everyone is familiar with."

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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 4/10/2006


Want to help shape the future? If you have questions or comments about green building and the IRC and other Building Codes, let me know.

I am helping organize/ participating in a luncheon on 4/19 to  building officials where the presentation will be about why they should be doing more to encourage green building.

UPDATE:
first lunch went well. Had entire department from one community attend and express great interest.

We are having a follow up lunch presentation the 21st of June. This time presenters will be members of "Greening the Codes" Committee of the USGBC.

Contact me through the forum or PM me privately.

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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 4/19/2006


any one interested in working on editing an upcoming special report on building codes?

private message me if you are.

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