The Home Builders Association of South Carolina is supporting House and Senate bills now in the Statehouse that would override a regulation requiring homes built in the state to automatically be constructed with fire sprinkler systems. The regulation has been passed by the South Carolina Building Code Council, as put forth originally by the International Code Council(ICC), which is used by 48 states including South Carolina.
Home Builders Association Executive Director Mark Nix was among a large group who lobbied state lawmakers this week and spoke to a House subcommittee Wednesday about a regulation that will go into effect next year requiring sprinkler systems in all new one or two-family homes being constructed.
(Nix on sprinklers MP3 2:05)
Nix on sprinklers
Nix says other states have the same idea that South Carolina is considering–opting out of the ICC sprinkler requirement and that only three states have so far accepted the code. Nix says hurting the housing market would have other effects, since the economic impact of the South Carolina housing industry in 2010 is expected to be $1.6 billion. He says it produced $345 million in taxes and other revenue for state and local governments.
Nix says house buyers should be able to decide whether they want to buy a sprinkler system. He says it’s an issue affordability.
Nix says the new code would most affect those buying less-expensive houses, in the $80,000 to $150,000 range, where it would add a major chunk to the price up front. Nix says for each $1,000 added to the cost of an average-priced home, more than 25,000 South Carolina working families are priced out of the market. He says meanwhile, fire sprinkler manufacturers and installers would see their U.S. market share balloon from $100 million to $3 billion.
Firefighters in favor of the sprinkler code say it would save lives.