Columbia, Boone County to update building codes

Monday, January 1, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 7:05 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

The building codes for Columbia and Boone County, which have not been updated since 2000, are about to get a makeover.

While Boone County officials are conducting public hearings on a new set of codes, the Columbia City Council will update its codes at its Tuesday night meeting. Public comment is welcome.

City and county officials have tried to ensure that their new codes will be as similar as possible.

“We’re making every effort to be as close to what Columbia does,” said Boone County Planning and Building Director Stan Shawver. “A lot of builders and subcontractors in Columbia go out of their jurisdictions. If the codes are similar, builders in Columbia can build more easily out of the city.”

The new codes will adhere to the 2006 International Building Codes Series and will result in only minor changes, Shawver said.

“The majority of the changes have already been happening anyway,” Shawver said. “Nothing earthshaking will be changed.”

A report to the City Council from City Manager Bill Watkins indicates that builders can anticipate more stringent requirements for automatic sprinkler systems, new standards for address numbers and limits on water temperatures to prevent scalding.

Current codes require automatic sprinkler systems in buildings that are 5,000 square feet or larger or in buildings with occupancy rates of 300 or more. The new code cuts those occupancy limits by more than half, requiring sprinkler systems in buildings with occupancy rates of 100 or more.

Shawver said that the suggested lower rates of occupancy might be a bit much. County officials are considering amending the 2006 code to require sprinklers in buildings with occupancy rates of 200 or more.

“(The 2006 occupancy limit) currently says that small restaurants would have to install sprinkler systems,” Shawver said. “A place as small as that Subway on Ninth Street would have to have sprinklers.”

The new code will also require address numbers on all homes. The numbers must be at least four inches high and of a color that contrasts with the home. Existing address numbers that meet the minimum standard of the current code — 2 inches high and visible from the street — will still be allowed if they are in good condition.

The proposed new county codes will be open to public comment for the next few weeks. The new city codes will be up for final approval by the City Council on Tuesday. That meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at the Daniel Boone Building, 701 E. Broadway.

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