Posted by: Jennifer Wiegert on Friday, December 3, 2021
For Immediate Release
Contact: Jennifer Wiegert, Director of Marketing & Communications
St. Louis REALTORS®
Phone: 314.576.0033 ext. 317
Study by St. Louis REALTORS® Finds Inconsistent, Duplicative Building Codes Across St. Louis County’s 89 Local Governments
REALTORS® Leading Local Conversations to Achieve Consistent, Updated Codes
ST. LOUIS, MO (Nov. 30, 2021) – A new study by St. Louis REALTORS® finds building codes across St. Louis County’s 89 local governments are inconsistent, outdated and wastefully duplicative.
The St. Louis REALTORS® study found there are at least 42 building codebooks used across 89 jurisdictions in St. Louis County. These findings are conservative, as information was not found on at least some codebooks for about one-third of the local governments. Together, the codes that were counted had a whopping 809 chapters, totaling about 17,000 pages.
That’s nearly double the 9,000 pages of the IRS Code. In fact, you could stack up the IRS Code and books including: “War and Peace,” “Moby Dick,” “Roots,” “The Lord of The Rings,” and the “Harry Potter Series” and still not equal the number of pages of building codes St. Louis REALTORS® found across the 89 jurisdictions. Changing to a consistent code – for example, based on those used by St. Louis County – would reduce those pages by about 80%, to roughly 3,000 pages.
“These startling findings prompted our association to initiate local conversations addressing multiple issues with the codes, with goals of improving efficiency, and eliminating duplication while protecting the safety and health of our neighbors,” said Katie Berry, 2022 St. Louis REALTORS® President. Berry said there are several possible options, including going to St. Louis County voters to seek approval of consistent countywide building codes.
“St. Louis REALTORS® does not have a specific proposal and we are open to constructive ideas. But the status quo is wasteful and frustrating to both residents and businesses. That is why St. Louis REALTORS® has been reaching out to local officials and other stakeholders to discuss building a coalition around achieving consistent building codes,” Berry said. “We are leading good-faith conversations about achieving consistent building codes, because our neighbors and businesses across St. Louis County deserve consistent, equitable access to reliable, updated codes.”
Building codes specify minimum standards for the construction and maintenance of residential and commercial structures. When St. Louis REALTORS® searched for a single list of building codes used across St. Louis County, the association discovered that no one had compiled a list, nor had anyone tallied the total number of building codes that exist across the County.
The St. Louis REALTORS® study focused on six areas of codes: Both commercial and residential building codes; Mechanical; Electrical; Plumbing; and Property Maintenance. The study found no fewer than 42 codebooks have been adopted by local governments throughout St. Louis County. The publication years codebooks ranged from the International Plumbing Codebook 1995, to a variety of codebooks published in 2018 and adopted by multiple municipalities.
While nearly half of governing authorities use codebooks published in 2015 across codebook categories (or 2014 for electrical), in actual practice, how they are applied causes confusion and means navigating cumbersome bureaucracies. Making matters more complicated, the local governments can adopt amendments to their respective codebooks, including additions, insertions, changes, and omissions. In effect, this means that even if everyone were using the same edition of the same codebook, there could still be up to 89 versions of the respective code.
St. Louis REALTORS® is asking residents and business owners to share their own stories about the frustrations of navigating the maze of inconsistent and duplicative building codes across St. Louis County and its local governments. Go to stlrealtors.com/codes to see the study, and share your own story about issues with inconsistent building codes.
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