Otsego County changes building code to follow International Building Codes

By Tom Grace, The Daily Star
Cooperstown News Bureau

COOPERSTOWN, New York - 7/15/02 - Builders beware: The rules of the game are changing.

At the start of next year, Otsego County will no longer adhere to the state's Uniform Building Codes, but along with the rest of the state, will follow the International Building Codes, according to David West, the county's code enforcement officer.

"Actually, it went into effect at the start of July," West said last week. "Between now and the end of the year, people can follow the uniform or the international codes."

After Jan. 1, the uniform codes will no longer apply, and the more comprehensive international codes will govern how structures are built.

"There are differences between the uniform and international codes, but if someone is doing a good job under the uniform codes, they probably won't have a problem when we change," West said.

Charles Bateman, who chairs Otsego County's Public Safety Committee, advised his fellow board members about the change during the July 3 meeting of the Otsego County Board of Representatives.

"I think we want to get the word out, especially for those in the business," Bateman said.

The new rules will be more comprehensive in a number of areas, such as specifying how boards will be nailed. They will govern how rooms, even hallways, will be wired, an area not clearly delineated previously, West said.

"Under the uniform code, it states that certain tasks will be done in a 'workmanlike' manner," said West. Under the international codes, the manner in which specific jobs should be done will be spelled out, he said.

"The biggest change is that under the uniform codes there is a lot of room for interpretation, but the new rules are clearer," he said.

West said codes officials are being schooled in the new rules and will hold forums to educate builders in the fall.

"I think education is going to be very important so we can make this change as smooth as possible," he said.

West said he plans to work with building materials suppliers such as Bruce Hall in Cooperstown to help advise contractors on changes in the rules.

Tom Grace can be reached at grace@ascent.net or (607) 547-2431.


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