In January the State of Michigan announced through its Bureau of Construction Codes that it had determined NOT to update the Michigan Residential Code (MRC). In the past this would have never happened. Our MRC has been updated every three years on a regular basis whether changes were warranted or not. Your state association (through the hard work of Lee Schwartz) initiated an effort several years ago to bring more common sense into this code adoption process. With the help of then State Representative Joe Haveman, this included the development of legislation that was signed into law giving the State more flexibility in determining how often it needed to do a code update. Based on the State’s recent action, the earliest implementation date for a new code will not come until sometime in 2022

Former State Representative Joe Haveman’s legislation, which was passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor, allowed the state to update the MRC either every three years or every six years. The International Residential Code which serves as the base document for the Michigan Residential Code is updated every three years and, before this change, the law required the Michigan Residential Code to be updated every three years as well.

The 2018 edition of the Residential Code was the first to be considered under the Flex Code law. The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) held a public meeting on December 20, 2017 to give the public an opportunity to present data and comments on the general need to update the Michigan Residential Code.

Representatives from the fire services as well as energy efficiency advocates and several building officials all supported adopting the 2018 edition. HBAM was the only voice at the meeting in favor of not updating the code until the 2021 edition was published.

We pointed out that, according to the International Code Council, the significant changes to the 962-page 2018 International Residential Code (IRC) consisted of 13 additions, 2 deletions, 70 modifications (many editorial in nature) and 8 clarifications. A number the changes found in the 2018 IRC would not apply in Michigan since they were either already adopted in the 2015 MRC or the section that is being modified or clarified was deleted from the 2015 MRC. Had the State decided to adopt the 2018 edition the cost to licensed builders and remodelers for buying new 2018 code books would be about $8.4 million dollars.

Another important note: The Flex Code law also allows a builder or remodeler the option to the use a material, product, method of manufacture, or method or manner of construction or installation provided for in the 2018 IRC. So if there are things in the 2018 IRC that you would prefer to follow in your building, an enforcing agency or its building official or inspectors must permit but cannot mandate their use. However, remember, if you make the choice to use one of these new sections you must follow all applicable requirements for their use found in the 2018 code. HBAM will be putting together a document highlighting some of the more important changes found in the 2018 IRC you may wish to use including buried ducts in attics. l