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New Building Codes in South Carolina

With the start of the New Year also comes the start of new building codes for residential housing here in South Carolina. I am discovering they are impacting Columbia and all of South Carolina. Let’s take a closer look at what changes are in store for 2023 and beyond.

First, a primer. Prior to June 13, 1997, local jurisdictions that desired to adopt building codes were permitted to do so by local ordinance. If a jurisdiction did adopt building codes, it was required to adopt only the codes authorized by the Building Codes Act.

Beginning July 2, 2003, the Council was charged with the responsibility for adopting all mandatory building codes and establishing the date of implementation for the local jurisdictions. Starting with the 2006 code adoption cycle, the Council, instead of the local jurisdictions, began adopting the appendices as needed. The main function of the Building Codes Council is to adopt or modify model building codes for the state.

On Oct. 6, 2021, the South Carolina Building Codes Council adopted the latest editions of the mandatory codes and appendices with modifications in all municipalities and counties and established the implementation date as Jan. 1, 2023.

The 2021 South Carolina codes are available for order from the ICC (Intl. Code Council) website. The adopted modifications and the mandatory codes are as follows:

Some suggest the more stringent codes come as a result of the rise of natural disasters, such as hurricanes and earthquakes. In its 2022 Hurricane Report, CoreLogic risk modeling data shows nearly 7.8 million homes with more than $2.3 trillion in combined reconstruction cost value are at risk of hurricane-related damages.

Of course, hurricanes are simply one example. Even a simple storm can cause a home’s power to go out for days. While South Carolina is at risk, naturally other states could face similar challenges. In the last 20 years, Florida has had the most people per capita impacted by power outages—more than 900,000, according to Payless Power. California, Texas, and Pennsylvania are the states most affected by power outages during the winter. South Carolina was in the top 12 of states with the most customers affected by power outages in 2022.

As such, resilience is becoming a greater priority for many homeowners and builders, as together they are looking to create structures that can withstand intense events. A resilient home is one that, by definition, can withstand anything. It can endure wind and water, and it can continue to remain powered and connected, even in the face of disaster. That is certainly a tall task, especially when it requires updated homes and updated infrastructure to sustain it.

This is where building codes come into play. There are certainly pros and cons that come as a result of new building codes—but the bottomline is it creating a number of changes when building new homes in South Carolina today.

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