Updated building codes adopted by Cottonwood City Council on July 6 will keep the cost of homeowner’s insurance at a minimum, Development Services General Manager Dan Lueder said.
They will also allow people to build structures using alternative methods like rammed earth and straw bales.
The new codes, which take effect Friday, Aug. 6, replace versions adopted by the city in May 2004, Lueder said.
“The city gets graded by the Insurance Service Organization every five years,” he said. “By adopting the newer codes, the city will get a more favorable rating.”
The rating given to the city directly impacts what people and businesses pay for insurance. The new code gets Cottonwood a rating of “excellent,” which keeps insurance costs as low as possible.
Had the new codes not been adopted, the city’s excellent rating would have dropped to “poor,” Lueder said.
Waiting longer to adopt new codes makes it tough for builders to catch up with all the changes. Adopting new codes every five years allows builders to keep pace, building inspector Joe Steinke said.
“The codes are always changing and adapting as a result of newer technology and lessons learned from natural disasters,” he said.
The biggest drawback to the codes adopted in 2004 was the absence of regulations requiring water sprinkler systems in manufactured homes, Steinke said.
The new codes spell out exactly what inspectors will be looking for, which makes it easier for builders and homeowners to know what is expected of them, Lueder said.
Another benefit of the new code is that new energy efficiency standards will keep the costs of utilities down, he said.
The city enforces the code by reviewing building plans and conducting frequent field inspections.
Violations are first discussed with the builder, who is given a chance to correct the problem. A “stop work” order may be issued to compel a builder to fix the problem. If the problem persists, the builder must explain to a hearing officer, who can make orders and issue fines.