New state code may affect home building

MONMOUTH — Oregon’s new residential specialty code for building increased the standards for energy efficiency in every new home built in Oregon.

The Monmouth City Council heard a report from Building Official Larry Thornton at its Feb. 5 meeting.

“The net effect of that is anybody’s plans for building things doesn’t work,” Monmouth City Manager Scott McClure said. “For new permits as of Jan. 1, they have to meet the new energy efficiency standards.”

The new standards require more depth to floors to accept more insulation, McClure said. They also have to have flat notches to get insulation all the way to the edge, he said.

Another aspect of the new code requires blown-in, rather than rolled, insulation.

“If you’re doing your own house or doing an extension, anybody could do roll out insulation,” McClure said. “You have to hire a contractor to do the blown-in.”

McClure said all new homes have to be prewired for solar panels and electric vehicle charging stations.

Many contractors made sure to get their permits before Jan. 1 so the new energy efficient codes would not affect them, Thornton said.

“If they’ve already got permits, more than likely they’re grandfathered in before the code went into full force,” Thornton said. “I had a little rush on people getting sets of permits in before the end of the year because … more than likely their plans did not meet the new code requirements.”

Costs for building or making additions to existing homes will likely go up, Thornton said.

Building an addition to an existing home may affect the entire structure, he said. Depending on the size of the add-on, homeowners may be required to install underfloor insulation throughout the house, or replace all the windows, for example.

“Obviously, people are going to select the least expensive option for them,” Thornton said.

Because the new plans affect basic structure, such as the floors and roof, any current plans for homes won’t meet the new code, McClure said.

“The key thing is that you can’t build right now until somebody goes through and designs structures to meet these new standards,” McClure said. “You get everything lined up. I’m ready to build that new house. You go to the company that makes plans and say show me some plans. They won’t have any plans.”

The code affects building statewide, not just Monmouth, Thornton said.

In other business, the council:

Looked at a cooperative agreement between the city and the Oregon Department of Transportation for the Highway 99W project. The council should take action on the agreement at Tuesday’s meeting after press time.

Looked at Monmouth’s wetland inventory.

Passed new insurance plans for represented and nonrepresented employees.

Decided to accept applications for a new councilor, due Friday.

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