NH Senate backs bills to update, streamline state building code process

One measure would sync state rules with current national guidelines

Builders may have a little less trouble navigating local, and often outdated, building codes, thanks to two bills passed by the NH Senate on Thursday aimed at addressing those outdated overdue codes.

“The state has a hard time passing building codes,” said Sen. Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry, sponsor of Senate Bill 443. “The codes are years behind, and that means people have to pay more in insurance.”

The Senate had earlier in the day passed House Bill 1681, updating the code to conform with the national code of 2018 to its Finance Committee. The state’s code currently dates back to the 2015 national code. HB 1681 has to go back to the House before it can be signed into law.

As for SB 443, it does several things.

First it requires that municipalities – which often go above and beyond the state code in their versions – submit these amendments to the State Building Code Review Board for approval in case they don’t keep up with or conflict with the latest code that the state has adopted. The panel also will post them so builders could more easily keep track of what each town requires.

It also eliminates fees to bring cases to the board. And it mandates that the board start preparing the state to adopt the next code way in advance, by figuring out the cost of adopting all or parts of the national code.

SB 443 itself is a bit outdated.

It was proposed in 2020, but got lost in the that Covid-shortened session, since it was packaged in a huge omnibus bill rejected by the House. And it almost got delayed again, as the Senate Finance Committee unanimously recommended it be sent to interim study, arguing that there would be a cost to post all these codes.

Carson dismissed that, saying both the building code and fire code boards, had not asked for any money. The Senate passed SB 443 over to the House, 23-1.

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