State wants compromise on building codes issue

By Jack King

o Not all Clovis task force members in agreement.
The state Construction Industries Division has proposed a compromise on a statewide building codes controversy. Some members of Clovis’ building codes task force say the compromise is not acceptable.
Building codes have been an issue in Clovis at least since July 17, when home builder Randy Crowder told the city commission the CID was preparing to force builders to accept the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 5000 Building Construction and Safety Code. That code is in opposition to the International family of codes favored by builders.
Since then, the issue has received statewide attention, with New Mexico Business Weekly telling readers Sept. 22, “at issue is whether certain codes are more cost effective than other, are more protective of the plumbing and mechanical workers and their unions and inhibit or enhance the state’s ability to compete on a national scale for new building projects.”
At a Sept. 19 meeting the state Construction Industries Commission approved a compromise position, Fermin Aragon, chief of the division’s general construction bureau, said this week.
Instead of backing the NFPA codes, the commission would approve use of the International building and residential codes, but for plumbing and mechanical codes it would propose updated versions of the uniform codes the state currently uses. For electrical contracting, it would propose using the National Electrical Codes developed by the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials, he said.
Aragon said in using a variety of codes the commission is following the wishes of different industries in the state.
“The building industries prefer the ‘I’ codes for residential and building. The plumbing and mechanical industries prefer the uniform codes, and the electrical people prefer the NEC codes,” he said.
But Crowder, a member of a building codes task force created by the Clovis City Commission, called the state CID proposal “a bad compromise.”
Assistant City Manager Joe Thomas said home builders on the task force have given the city a four-point statement criticizing the proposal. The points are:
n The states of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Utah and several cities in Texas and Colorado have adopted the international plumbing and mechanical codes. Adopting the full family of international codes would make it easier for companies to work in the states.
n Under the international development process, building officials have a determining vote; under the uniform plumbing and mechanical codes, their vote is just advisory.
n According to the American Institute of Architects and others, blending codes creates problems.
n By attempting to “lock two adversarial code governing bodies into the same house,” CID is creating potential problems in conflict resolution.
Clovis plumbing contractor Mark Carpenter, chairman of the task force’s subcommittee on plumbing and mechanical codes, said his subcommittee has not completed a review of the International codes and has made no recommendation on them to the task force.
An item requesting approval to elect City Commissioner Isidro Garcia to the Municipal League, and to instruct him to vote in favor of the adopting the family of International codes at a league meeting Saturday, is on the commission’s consent agenda for tonight’s meeting.