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Local News

Yorkville officials, contractors discuss building code updates during open house

YORKVILLE – For those who want to install solar panels on their home's roof or might even want to explore building a tiny house, there are now building codes for that.

Yorkville building and safety officials talked about the adoption of the 2018 International Building Code Series during a building code open house on Thursday, June 13, at City Hall, 800 Game Farm Road.

Pete Ratos, building code official for United City of Yorkville, said the city tries to be no more than three building codes behind, with one code cycle being three years. He said the idea also is to make sure the city's code is not lagging behind with construction practices on current building projects.

"We can make sure we’re, A, not crippling builders of overabundance of regulations, and B, we’re protecting our residents and keeping in step with the standards of surrounding communities," Ratos said.

Seth Sommer, master code professional for Construction Code Services, Inc., said some of the new building code additions include building and fire code standards for solar panel installation and tiny houses. Those updates will be added to city code along with other changes, including remodeled basements without a bedroom added not needing an emergency escape window.

Sommer said changes to building code in general usually are the result of something terrible happening, like people getting sick or structures collapsing. He said the codes are there to protect everyone.

"And they try to prevent that from happening again," Sommer said.

Ratos said the city will not be adopting the new regulations where newly-constructed single family homes would need to include fire suppression, including sprinklers. He said the cost to do that for new construction ends up driving up the cost of the project by 7% or 12%.

Ratos said residents who would still want to add the sprinklers could for new houses, but it's not going to be an outright requirement.

"While we love the idea of more safety for our residents, we also want to build an affordable house," Ratos said.

James Childress, owner of Design House Architectural Services in Yorkville, said he does a lot of contractor work in the city and has been in business since 1996. He said he came to the open house becuase it always involves a lot of paperwork to keep on top of building code changes and it's good to be up to date on what the city's planning.

"It's a lot to delve into on your own as to what changed and what hasn't changed," Childress said.

Ratos said the plan is to have the updated code go into effect Jan. 1, 2020 but to have the changes pass as soon as possible so residents and builders have enough time to review the changes and don't run into compliance issues during construction season. He said he's hoping for a good, clear dialogue with residents and building and safety officials before the city code updates are passed.

“Because the last thing we want is to spend taxpayers' money and time doing all of this work to get to a point where we're upgrading code to modern standards and find out we're creating hardships for residents, builders and everyone in between,” Ratos said.

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