Spending the day in Seattle to attend a meeting of the Washington State Building Code Council, where, odd as it seems, I get to be the public representative. On today's agenda, we have two emergency rules for fire protection for schools and another for townhouses. These are issues that the Council has been working through for the last six months and I think we have some rules now that will gather consensus in both the Council as well the affected stakeholders.
The meeting before the SBCC is the Building, Fire, and Plumbing sub-committee is considering a host of rule changes for the next year. Many of the items are actual clarifications of existing code and those will likely proceed smoothly. Architects and design professionals will see the biggest change.
One that I find very interesting is a proposal to mandate third-party testing of new homes for the testing of the ductwork. This one is more likely to have a direct impact of local and small builders.
Currently, the mechanical contractor is able to perform this testing on their own systems. The request for the change comes for a home performance company and the WSU Energy Program. I find it interesting in the presumption that the contractor is automatically assumed to be corruptible while the third party tester would not be.
From a more practical point of view, I am concerned that this will greatly increase the cost of the testing which will then be passed down to the next homeowner. I'd like to be sure that we have a problem with fraud before we arbitrarily increase builder, and ultimately, consumer costs.