BY: MARK LONGIETTI, OF COUNSEL
Sprinkler Requirement for 1-Family and 2-Family Homes Effective January 1, 2011 in PA
Effective January 1, 2011, in Pennsylvania, new construction of single family and two family homes will require installation of a fire suppression sprinkler system. There may be an exception to this requirement for such homes where the Building Permit was obtained before July, 2010 and certain steps were taken by the owner. Homeowners should consult with their building contractors. It must be stressed that the requirement only applies to new construction. Existing single family and two family homes have no such requirement in Pennsylvania.
This new requirement is the result of changes to the International Construction Code (ICC) which were adopted by the ICC at its national convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Several years ago, Pennsylvania adopted the ICC as its construction code, and periodic updates to the code automatically became a part of Pennsylvania law. More recently, Pennsylvania established an Advisory Committee, comprised of various stakeholders, including home builders, municipal officials, architects and engineers, to review code updates and to vote whether to include those updates in Pennsylvania’s code. Although it was believed that the Advisory Committee would reject the new sprinkler system requirement, it did not. Therefore, the requirement becomes effective on January 1, 2011.
The cost of installation of a sprinkler system as part of the construction of a home varies based upon location and whether the home will be served by a municipal water system. Home builders and consumers have expressed concern about the cost of homeownership increasing without a corresponding increase in the appraised value of the home; while firefighters have argued that such a requirement is important for safety reasons. In the 2010-11 legislative session, beginning on January 4, 2011, it is expected that the Pennsylvania legislature will consider a repeal of the new sprinkler system requirement, however, it remains unclear how quickly such legislation may progress and whether it will be successful. In the meantime, individuals considering building a new single family or two family home in Pennsylvania need to be aware of the requirement.