New Hampshire Town and City
State Building Code Update
New Hampshire Town and City, January 2004
By Gary H. Bernier, Esq.
September 14, 2003 came and went almost unnoticed in the building community. That was the date when contractors were required to begin complying with the state building code. There was not much fanfare surrounding the date, however, since the state fire marshal’s office had taken the position that the state building code has been enforceable since September 14, 2002. But this past summer, even before compliance was mandatory, the legislature passed amendments to the state building code. The amendments became effective on July 14, 2003.
Q. Have there been amendments to the manuals that comprise the state building code?
A. Yes. RSA 155-A:1, IV, is a list of the various codes that make up the state building code. Chapter 245 (SB 62) of the 2003 legislative session replaced the National Electric Code 1999 with the National Electric Code 2002. In addition, the State Building Code Review Board which was established pursuant to RSA 155-A:10 has the authority to modify the state building code and has done so. Check the Board’s Web site for details at www.nh.gov/safety/bldgcode.
Q. Has there been legislation to clarify a municipality’s authority to enforce the state building code under existing enforcement mechanisms?
A. Yes. Chapter 245 included an amendment to RSA 674:51, I, as follows (new language in italics):
The local legislative body may enact as an ordinance or adopt, pursuant to the procedures of RSA 675:2-4, additional provisions of the state building code for the construction, remodeling, and maintenance of all buildings and structures in the municipality, provided that such additional regulations are not less stringent than the requirements of the state building code. The local legislative body may also enact a process for the enforcement of the state building code and any additional regulations thereto, and the provisions of a nationally recognized code that are not included in and are not inconsistent with the state building code. Any local enforcement process adopted prior to the effective date of this paragraph shall remain in effect unless it conflicts with the state building code or is amended or repealed by the municipality.
Q. What authority do municipalities have to adopt building codes on the local level?
A. In addition to the authority to establish additional local regulations as set forth in RSA 674:51 (see above), section 8 of Chapter 245 reestablished a municipality’s authority to adopt local codes by reference. This authority had previously existed in RSA 674:52 but was repealed as part of the original state building code legislation. The authority to establish local codes by reference is limited to those codes promulgated by the International Code Council but which are not included in the state building code. These include the International Residential Code for One- and Two-Family Dwellings and the International Property Maintenance Code. The authority to adopt local building codes by reference will appear at RSA 674:51-a.
Q. Have there been other changes relative to the state building code?
A. Other amendments that were part of Chapter 245 included adding a member to the State Building Code Review Board. The new member will be a master electrician nominated by the Electrical Contractors Business Association. The Board already included a master electrician nominated by the state electricians’ board. This addition brings the total membership of the Board to 17. Chapter 245 (SB 62) of the 2003 legislative session may be viewed at www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legislation/2003/sb0062.html.