Home construction professionals have adapted their building methods over the years, incorporating new technologies, responding to structural problems and satisfying clients' ever-changing aesthetic desires.
The problem for Oklahoma builders has been that until recently state codes didn't address many of the methods they used on site and “you had to be an engineer” to understand other aspects of the codes, said Todd Booze, president of construction for Ideal Homes and chairman of the planning committee for the upcoming Oklahoma Building Summit.
The Oklahoma Uniform Building Code, which went into effect in 2010, changed all that.
The Oklahoma Building Summit, to be presented by the Oklahoma State Home Builders Association on Sept. 18, will be tailored to address members' growing interest in complying with the code. The event will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Reed Center in Midwest City. Admission is $75 before Wednesday and $100 after.
The event, in its fifth year, was previously known as the Oklahoma Green Building Summit.
Although energy efficiency “remains one focus” of the annual meeting, Booze said, the Uniform Building Code emphasizes three other key areas that will be tracked as part of the summit: structural framing for walls and roofs; foundations, soils and concrete; and legal issues, including torts and warranties for contractors and builders.
Booze recently showed visitors to northwest Oklahoma City's Valencia addition homes in the framing stage that reflect some of the methodologies incorporated in the new code.
He pointed out examples of narrow wall bracing — critical in modern homes with numerous, large widows that don't allow space for traditional bracing between them.
“We can't build a tornado-proof house,” Booze said, but the new codes “are driven by what physics and engineering have taught us” about the best practices for the strongest possible construction.
A neighboring house was receiving its Tyvek wrap, a weather shield — but the specifics of how such products are to be installed depending on what siding material is to be applied “hasn't been covered” by codes till now, Booze said.
Instead of simply promoting “green” goals, the state energy code for builders “looks at the whole house,” he said — equipment, filtration, insulation, and how it is all to be installed.
Booze pointed out methods of rafter construction adapted for modern rooflines and varying ceiling heights within a home.
The state builders association pushed “from the beginning” for Oklahoma to adopt a statewide Uniform Building Code, said Jeff Click, association president.
Oklahoma is one of a few states to have a stand-alone building code commission, Click said.
Click pointed out that builders are naturally wary of new standards governing their practices.
“New codes ideally improve the performance, longevity and quality of homes, but they rarely, if ever, streamline construction or reduce costs,” he said.
Click said he “wouldn't count on” the new codes saving money for buyers “as those costs naturally get passed along within the market.”
Only in the area of energy performance improvements, “which can later translate into longer-term savings for the homeowner,” was he optimistic about cost savings.
To establish the uniform code, the Oklahoma Uniform Building Code Commission accepted reports of four subcommittees reviewing the international code and met with legislative, municipal and construction-industry leaders.
“Building science has made more advances in the past 10 years than in any other time in history,” Click said. “Today's builders must remain diligent not just in being up to code, but also in seeking proficiency in the latest best practices in structural and energy performance. The Oklahoma Building Summit is geared toward the builder and trades who seek to remain on the leading edge of the best ways to build homes for fellow Oklahomans.”