Farragut moves quickly on ch-ch-changes to building code

Wendy SmithFarragut, The Farragut Insider

Change is hard. Just ask David Bowie. But change can also be good, even if it requires some adjustment.


The town of Farragut plans to join the city of Knoxville in adopting the 2018 International Building Code (IBC) as mandated by the state of Tennessee. The state is currently examining the 2018 IBC residential code and anticipates the adoption of all IBC codes in August. While Tennessee municipalities have seven years to adopt the most recently published edition of the code, Farragut plans to make the change now, says Karl Swierzko, the town’s new building official.

What difference do building codes make in the lives of ordinary citizens? To sum up, rules about how buildings are constructed keep people safe and save them money. That’s right – save them money.

Swierzko held a workshop for the Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen last week to discuss the update. He pointed out the benefits of a residential building code:

  • Safety. Homes built to a residential code are safer.
  • Reduced energy costs. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that homes built to a modern code save 30 to 50 percent in energy costs, and appraisals of energy-efficient homes could be higher than those that aren’t energy efficient.
  • More efficient building process. Identifying mistakes before they’ve been concealed by further construction makes corrections less costly. Reputable home builders benefit from having standards that apply to all contractors and enforcement of those standards.
  • Protection of the environment. Codes mandate proper disposal of waste.
  • Lower insurance rates. New homeowners in cities with codes that are enforced may receive a discount on homeowner’s insurance. Homes constructed with a higher standard may suffer less damage in a storm.

Better fire protection is another benefit of strong building codes, says Farragut Fire Marshal Dan Johnson.

“Continuous adoption of progressive building and fire codes has directly resulted in a reduction in fire loss,” says Johnson. Codes also impact ISO (Insurance Services Office) ratings, which determine insurance rates. A lower score means a service meets higher standards, and Farragut has an excellent ISO rating of 3.

Swierzko says the updated code is streamlined and shouldn’t have a major impact on developers and contractors.

A working knowledge of current building codes is important for anyone who builds a house or commercial building. Choosing contractors, architects and engineers who have a thorough knowledge of codes ensures against unexpected delays and expense. Town of Farragut staff are a good source of information for residents who are considering a construction project.

The Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen will vote on the adoption of the updated code on March 28 and again on April 11. Citizens who have questions or want to learn more about the process of building in Farragut are encouraged to attend the 7 p.m. meetings.

Wendy Smith coordinates marketing and public relations for the town of Farragut.

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