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Classes cover building code changes

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POSTED: November 2, 2013 1:00 p.m.
Photo by Randy C. Murray/

George Smith, Hinesville’s chief building inspector, conducts a class at city hall on International Code Council changes.

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The Hinesville Inspections Department is conducting classes on changes to construction codes approved by the International Code Council in 2012, according to Inspections Department Director Steve Welborn.
Welborn said Georgia is adopting the ICC code changes, so his office is taking proactive measures to inform local builders, developers, suppliers and inspectors about the changes, which take effect Jan. 1.
He said the first workshop was held Thursday in city-council chambers, but no one showed up for the class, which focused on changes to residential building codes. That class is being rescheduled for Nov. 18. Monday morning’s workshop on mechanical codes was well-attended, he said.
Other classes are scheduled for Nov. 4, Nov. 18, Dec. 2 and Dec. 16. All classes begin at 9 a.m. and will be held in city-council chambers. The classes are taught by George Smith, the city’s chief building inspector.
“George is well-rounded in ICC certifications,” said Welborn, noting that Smith has ICC certifications in building, electrical, mechanical and plumbing code requirements. “When we found out there were going to be code changes, George and I sat down and talked about it. He came up with a plan to conduct classes that would provide local builders and contractors the opportunity to learn about the changes.”
He said Smith went through the ICC list of codes that are changing and chose the most significant changes, with an emphasis on how they economically affect builders, contractors, developers, suppliers and inspectors. He said some codes, like those affecting plumbing, include 79 changes, but they’re not all significant changes. One change even allows the builder to save money on plumbing, he said. Most of the code changes to plumbing have to do with redefining terms and clarification of requirements for that code.
Smith said some of the alterations to building codes include wind-load changes, which is a result of the new wind zones. He said most of those changes probably are too complicated for non-builders to understand and chose not to elaborate. A change to the code for window air-conditioning units is more easily understood, Smith said.
The new code for outside or window-mounted air-conditioning units will require a locking port that prevents access to the refrigerant lines. This “lock-out” will make it more difficult for those who are “huffing” the refrigerant as a means of getting a high, he said.
Welborn said some of the code changes may be costly for builders or contractors because a particular piece of equipment may become suddenly outdated, and a new piece of equipment will have to be purchased. Other code changes may require more specialized training for employees.
He acknowledged it may be difficult for some participants to rearrange their schedules on the day a class is offered, but that is why they’ve scheduled extra days for those who missed a class. For questions or information about an upcoming class, call Welborn or Smith at 876-4147.
“We just wanted to warn our builders about the coming changes to the codes,” Welborn said. “These workshops give them an opportunity to find out ahead of the changes and make plans to adapt to them.”


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