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Ballwin considers building code updates

By: Jim Erickson

The city of Ballwin could face a downgrading in its classification by the International Organization for Standardization [ISO] if it doesn’t update its residential and commercial/industrial property codes by Dec. 8.

In addition to reflecting the level of safety-related standards that apply in the city, an ISO classification downgrade would raise the rates insurance companies charge property owners for insurance.

Family residential property in Ballwin now has an ISO Class 5 rating while commercial and industrial facilities are at Class 4. Both will go to Class 10 if the codes are not updated. The primary reason is that the city still has 2006 building codes in effect.

Building officials, design professionals and construction industry representatives review the codes at the national level and update them periodically.

In a report to Ballwin aldermen at their June 25 meeting, Assistant City Administrator Andy Hixson said the city’s building commissioner, Mike Roberts, has reviewed 2015 international codes dealing with buildings, plumbing, mechanical and fuel gas requirements and the 2014 National Electrical Code. Roberts has recommended all be adopted without amendment.

City officials also have asked the Home Builders Association [HBA] for input on updating the 2015 residential code and have taken the group’s comments into consideration. Among other things, the HBA asked for a number of modifications in the chapter dealing with energy efficiency. However, Ballwin is recommending deleting that chapter entirely because its provisions have nothing to do with safety – the factors upon which Ballwin’s code inspections are based.

In one section dealing with materials to be used for sewer laterals, Roberts has recommended a thicker pipe be required than what the standard code specifies. The city has a sewer lateral program to help homeowners pay for repairs that may be needed and, as a result, has a vested interest in making sure the lines do not fail, Roberts said in his report. He noted that pipe thinner than what he has recommended is more easily damaged by rocks and can be misshapen when backfill is placed around it.

Ballwin has submitted an action plan on updating the codes and has until the December date to implement it.

Hixson said the Metro West Fire Protection District already has switched to newer code versions and that St. Louis County also is in the process of doing so.

Ballwin aldermen will consider and act on the code updates at an upcoming meeting.

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