ELKO – The City of Elko is planning to update building and fire codes, and there is good news for businesses planning construction projects.
“There are a few things that are significant changes. The energy codes will be significantly increased. There are other places where things get loosened up in a good way. Probably the biggest change is for businesses,” said Jeff Ford, manager of the city’s building department.
He said the multiplier for figuring occupancy loads has been loosened, and this affects construction requirements, especially the plumbing requirements that will in turn save businesses money.
“They are actually going backwards by 50 percent. People will be excited about that,” Ford said, explaining that the changes will alleviate “sticker shock” for sewer and water connection fees and plumbing fixtures.
For example, he said, the square-footage occupancy multiplier would go from 100 square feet per person to 150 square feet. The change applies not only to plumbing fixtures and water and sewer hookup but also to such things as door and hallway sizes.
Ford said this would be a big deal for hotel construction. Hotels spend huge sums on connection fees, but the multiplier change also would help small businesses.
He said updating the building code helps everyone.
“If we don’t stay current on codes, the public is missing out on new technologies and materials, so this helps the public,” Ford said on April 3.
Before Elko City Council can adopt the amended international building and fire codes, the city is taking comments to show the council whether the proposed rule is likely to impose a direct and significant economic burden upon a business or directly restrict the formation, operation or expansion of a business, according to City Clerk Kelly Wooldridge.
“Once comments are received, the business impact statement will be heard at City Council to determine if the changes will impose a direct and significant burden to businesses and will consider methods to reduce impact,” she said in an April 3 email.
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First and second reading of the proposed ordinance will follow before adoption.
“I don’t expect a lot of negative comments,” Ford said. “It’s been nine years since we adopted new codes.”
He said the international building code is changed every three years. Bigger cities in Nevada update their codes every six years, so Elko is now working with Reno and Sparks to “be a bit more diligent” about changing Elko’s codes.
“We can piggyback on their codes. You can almost put them side by side,” he said.
Elko hired West Coast Code Consultants Inc. to help evaluate the building and fire codes now in place and recommend whether to adopt more current versions of the code. The city has determined adopting new codes is the most effective and efficient way to minimize liability for owners, contractors and design professionals, Wooldridge said.
The city also determined adopting new fire codes would be the most efficient way to provide opportunities for cost savings, protect the environment and protect consumers, according to Wooldridge.
Elko Fire Marshal John Holmes said the fire codes haven’t been changed since 2012. He said the proposed changes will keep Elko codes up with the state, and he doesn’t see anything “dramatic” in the changes.
Wooldridge said the city participated in a working group with 11 other fire departments in northern Nevada to develop amendments to the 2018 International Fire Codes.
The clerk’s office mailed the proposed rules to all the businesses in the city, is publishing notices in the Elko Daily Free Press once a week for three weeks, and has the draft building and fire codes on the city’s website, Wooldridge said.
Comments can be mailed to the city clerk at 1751 College Ave., Elko, NV 89801 or emailed to her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadline is April 19.