New Building Code Hits The Books In Berlin

BERLIN – Town officials this week voted to formally adopt the 2000 edition of the International Building Code, the new standard for building practices around the country, which will replace the antiquated building code in place in Berlin since 1993.

For 14 years, Berlin has followed the 1993 Building Officials and Code Administrators Inc., or BOCA, Code when approving a wide variety of construction projects, but much has changed in the construction field over the years and a new, widely accepted set of building standards called the International Building Code of 2000 has been adopted by many towns across Maryland and throughout the country. The concept is to have all new construction projects follow the same set of accepted building practices.

However, Berlin had been following the old BOCA code of 1993 until this week when the council approved the IBC 2000 code. Town Code Enforcement Officer Amy Green said the time had long since passed for the town to update its building standards to fall in line with what much of the other jurisdictions in the area were doing.

“Currently, we’re under the 1993 BOCA code, so we are really behind on this,” she said.

Green explained changes in building practices and the use of more up-to-date materials were the reason for the code update. She said the IBC code adopted in 2000 had already been amended several times over the last few years since its adoption. Green also said the new code is not radically different from the old one.

“It’s not a big departure from what we already have on the books,” she said. “The new code complies with international codes and fire safety codes and the like. It allows the use of different materials and other cost saving measures. There are a whole bunch of things in there.”

Council Vice President Gee Williams questioned if adopting the 2000 International Building Code would create any problems for the town.

“Is there anything in this new code to make it more difficult for the town in the building code process?” he asked.

Green explained the updated building code would likely streamline the building permit process because many of the new techniques and materials are carefully covered in it while much has changed since the adoption of the 1993 BOCA code.

“This should actually make it easier,” she said. “This code is much more up to date. The truth is we were so behind on much of this with that 1993 code.”

Builder and developer Troy Purnell, who was sitting in the audience, said the new code would not present any major problems for local builders.

“It won’t make any difference for us,” he said. “If anything, it puts everybody on the same page.”