Geneva may require sprinklers in new homes -- but not until 2020

Updated 8/28/2018 7:09 AM

Geneva may require putting fire sprinklers in new homes, but not until January 2020 at the earliest.

Aldermen Monday recommended adopting the 2015 versions of the International Residential Code, as well as four other construction codes, to update city laws. The 2015 IRC calls for all new one- and two-family buildings to have fire-suppression sprinklers. The council expects to vote on the codes Oct. 1.


But aldermen agreed with the city building commissioner's recommendation that the city hold off on requiring sprinklers until Dec. 30, 2019.

That means builders who already have projects in the pipeline won't have to redesign their plans.

It also allows the city to see if state decides to start requiring sprinklers in such homes, building commissioner Eric Nelson said.

Besides the IRC, Geneva will adopt 2015 versions -- the most current -- of the International Mechanical Code, the International Energy Conservation Code, the International Fuel Gas Code, and the International Swimming Pool and Spa Code.

Geneva will, however, continue to require people building outdoor swimming pools to erect a fence, even if they install an automated pool cover. The international code does not require the fence, Nelson said.

Officials from Geneva, Batavia, St. Charles, Elburn and North Aurora jointly reviewed the revised codes. All are considering adopting them, because having a uniform code makes it easier for owners, contractors and municipalities when reviewing and issuing permits, according to a memo written by Nelson.

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Geneva is using the 2006 version of the code, with some amendments. The international codes are updated every three years.

The National Fire Protection Association estimated in 2013 that nationally, it cost an average of $1.35 per square foot to install a residential sprinkler system.

The National Association of Home Builders has opposed mandating sprinklers in one- and two-family buildings, contending that their expense makes it harder for people who are shopping for moderately priced houses, and therefore keeps those people in older homes that don't have sprinklers and have older, potentially less-safe appliances, furnaces and water heaters.

California and Maryland mandate sprinklers in one- and two-family buildings.

Batavia requires townhouses to have sprinklers.

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