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Code Alert: Utah, 28 May 2009



Major changes in Utah Construction Codes

Two significant decisions were made in the State of Utah in March 2009 that effect the construction in the State, including the electrical industry.

First, at its March 11 meeting, the Utah Uniform Building Code Commission took up the matter of which adopted code should prevail for electrical wiring of one-family and two-family dwellings: the 2008 National Electrical Code, or the 2006 Edition of the International Residential Code (IRC), electrical provisions in Chapters 33- 42. NEMA registered its opposition to adoption of the IRC provisions in a letter to the Commission. With little debate, The Commission decided that the IRC provisions should prevail. Since the 2006 IRC contains electrical provisions based on the 2005 Edition of the National Electrical Code, there will be significant discrepancies in how dwellings are wired: all multi-family dwellings will fall under the 2008 NEC and one & two-family dwellings under the IRC. The effect of this decision is that multi-family dwellings will be significantly, safer from and electrical standpoint, than single-family and duplex homes. Items such as expanded application of GFCI protection, expanded AFCI protection, and tamper resistant receptacles, critical for child safety, will be required only in multi-unit dwelling occupancies. The web site for the Utah Uniform Building Code Commission is http://dopl.utah.gov/programs/ubc/index.html.

On March 25, 2009, the Utah Governor signed into law Senate Bill 211. This legislation drastically alters the code adoption process in the State by giving the Legislature adopting authority for all construction codes in Utah. The Uniform Building Code Commission has always had the authority to adopt and enforce all construction codes. Now, the Commission will be relegated to an advisory capacity, charged with evaluating the codes, taking public testimony, and recommending which codes to adopt and what, if any, amendments should be incorporated. NEMA opposed the legislation on the basis that the Association believes such technical decisions are best left to a Commission comprised of members from a broad spectrum of the industry who understands the technical complexity of the construction industry and the codes that guide the industry’s safety. The Bill was passed out of the Utah Senate on March 3 with no opposing votes, and passed out of the Utah House of Representatives on March 12 by a 2:1 margin. The bill will directly affect adoption of the 2009 International Code adoption, scheduled for May 1, 2010, by moving the final date for the Commission to recommend the code package from November to October. The full report on this legislation may be reviewed at http://le.utah.gov/~2009/htmdoc/sbillhtm/SB0211.htm.

Submitted by: Joe Andre: joe.andre@nema.org