By Travis Gulbrandson
The Vermillion City Council could update its International Building Codes to the 2012 edition as early as next month, although most of the actual codes have already been adopted.
Vermillion Building Official Farrel Christensen said only one portion of the previous code was actually an ordinance.
“The rest was in policy, simply because we weren’t too sure what the standards of compliance might be,” he said during the Vermillion City Council’s special meeting Monday afternoon. “The intent of that old code was to provide a minimum standard of health, safety and welfare.
“So, we identified several things, and the two big remaining things that we’ve been working with for the last two years were HVAC and windows,” he said. “We’ve worked with numerous owners and operators on windows, so we think we’re pretty close to where we ought to be, but I would expect some conversation in regard to those things.”
Christensen said the main issues have been the size of the windows and their distance from the floor, and requiring rental property owners to have separate heating systems between units and provide controllable units to those occupants.
“Now we’re going to put it in an ordinance,” he said. “It’s been there two years. The policy is hopefully pretty well worked out, and it’ll just be a minimum standard for rental housing in Vermillion.”
Christensen said the city has met with the local multi-family housing association telling them of the intent to update the codes so they could explain it to their members.
“We’ll do our best to keep everybody up to speed,” he said.
Christensen said he hopes to present a new international building code and residential code to the city council at its first meeting in February.
“The difference between those two are the international residential building code relates to the construction of one- and two-family dwellings,” he said. “It’s a lot easier code. It recognizes that houses don’t need to be built the same as businesses, things like that.”
He said he would like to have the codes in place by March, in time for the new building season.
“I think the building codes will adopt probably very easily,” he said. “There’s not a lot of changes to make.”
Vermillion Fire Chief Shannon Draper already uses the international fire code, Christensen said, adding that adopting the international codes is a “great process” for the city.
“It adds uniformity to these groups of codes, which is what they’re designed to do,” Christensen said. “They interact very well with one another. Because of the changes, we will have to renew just about every one of our resolutions.
“The resolutions are based on the section number within each code, and of course the changes that are within a resolution become obsolete upon the adoption of the new code,” he said.
The city has adopted several international codes to regulate building construction, the fire code and property maintenance, Christensen said.
“Every three years those codes change,” he said. “We try to go to as many classes as possible to know what the changes are, and get things ready for the City of Vermillion to make it suitable for our use.
“The state of South Dakota encourages us to do that with the state statute that recognizes the adoption of the most current code, our ISO ratings are based somewhat on adopting three years within the publishing of the most recent codes,” he said.