Forewarned is Forearmed:  Update to the 2015 I-Codes and Changes to the Building Code Review Board Coming VERY Soon to NH
  
By Linda McNair-Perry, PE, CSI
  

The two bills related to these issues have passed both the House and the Senate and are in the process of being enrolled.  What that means is there is still some housekeeping (literally looking for clerical errors) and formalities that needs to be done before the bills are sent to the Governor’s desk for signing. 
 
The bill with the long overdue updates from the 2009 to the 2015 I-Codes with updated amendments will take effect 60 days after the governor signs it into law.  NH does not have a grace period or a transition where both the old and the new codes are applicable for a set time period.  The Building Code Review Board (the board) website indicates the new codes (with updated NH amendments) are likely to effect in January of 2020.  From past experience, it is likely to become effective before that, hence the title of this article. 
 
And while it might not seem as significant as updating the codes, there are some really key changes to the board’s process and responsibilities that will take effect 30 days after the governor signs the bill into law.  That particular bill provides for the appointment of alternative members of the board and now states that amendments to the codes approved by the board will be submitted annually to the legislature for ratification by legislation before they become effective.  Prior to this language, an amendment took effect immediately after the board approved it and it expired after two years if the legislature did not approve the amendment.
 
The board will now be responsible to maintain a publicly accessible list of applicable building codes and amendments to such codes, including posting a list of amendments proposed by municipalities with specific applicability if not statewide.  Thankfully the legislature included funds so that the all-volunteer board will have paid staff to make this a reality. Having an up to date website with accurate code information will be a big leap forward.
 
And I personally think the changes that now permits for an appeal to the board from decisions of a local building code board of appeals could be a big deal for someone’s project in the future.  An appeal shall be made within 30 days and the local building code board of appeals decision.  The appeal must be based on a claim that the intent of the code or the rules legally adopted thereunder have been incorrectly interpreted, the provisions of the code do not fully apply, or there is an alternative construction.  The board shall not have authority to waive or grant variances to requirements of the code.