Thankfully, we’ve never had to worry ourselves about local building codes, but there are many, many more folks who regularly struggle with codes when attempting to build a natural home in their area. And so the following news is very welcome, not just for those folks, but for a potential ecological/cultural tidal shift, as well. Earlier in October, an appendix on straw bale building was approved for inclusion in the 2015 International Residential Code for one and two-family dwellings. The IRC is basically the foundation for building codes all across the US. Wow!
Here’s more details and commentary from Andrew Morrison of strawbale.com about this great news:
The IRC is the basis for the Residential Building Code in virtually every jurisdiction in the US. So once these jurisdictions adopt the 2015 IRC, there will be a straw bale code for almost every jurisdiction in the United States. No more convincing building inspectors that your idea isn’t crazy. No more wondering if the plan checker will allow you to build the house of your dreams. You will be able to site the national code and move forward with your construction process, with a permit.
It should be noted that appendices in the IRC are not integral with the body of the IRC, and must be explicitly adopted by jurisdictions using the IRC. But it is expected that the vast majority will adopt the straw bale appendix because it fills a great need. Even if your jurisdiction does not adopt the appendix, you could cite it in the NATIONAL model code, which would carry enormous weight, and likely be used as the de facto code.
There are some restrictions within the straw bale appendix, most of which are appropriate for the proper use of straw bale construction; however, others are a bit conservative as a means of gaining acceptance in ICC’s approval process. The appendix is a living document, and will evolve over time through ICC’s review process every three years. It was an important step to get “in the door” and now we can allow the appendix to evolve over time.
Very exciting news. Congrats to all folks who had a hand in making this a possibility, and now, reality!