Enhanced Local Building Codes Recommended for Maryland’s Coastal Regions

The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) has recommended that local governments should strengthen and enhance their building codes in coastal areas of the State.  The Omnibus Coastal Property Insurance Reform Act of 2008 (HB 1353) required DHCD to review current building codes and “develop enhanced codes for coastal regions of the State that promote disaster-resistant construction in the coastal regions of the State.”  DHCD released a report of its findings and recommendations on October 1.

The report recommends that Maryland coastal communities adopt the 2010 Maryland Building Performance Standards (MBPS), including the latest versions of the International Building Code (IBC 2009) and the International Residential Code (IRC 2009).  Local governments are already required to adopt the MBPS, but may amend based on local conditions.  DHCD also recommends that coastal communities follow the IBC and IRC code recommendations when establishing local wind and flood design loads.  Finally, DHCD recommends several enhanced designs that should be considered locally, including:

A.    Adopt the ICC 600-2008. The International Code Council (ICC) has developed a standard for residential construction in high-wind regions, which is the ICC 600­2008. This standard, along with the 2009 IRC and other referenced codes, specifically deals with design requirements for coastal areas.

B.    The Standard for Residential Construction in High-Wind Regions (ICC 600-2008) provides wind-resistant design and construction details for residential buildings. High-wind regions include the hurricane prone regions of the east and gulf coasts, coastal Alaska, and the special wind region of the Columbia River Gorge in Washington and Oregon.

 C.    ICC 600-2008 includes prescriptive designs for cold-formed steel framing as well as masonry, concrete and wood- framed construction. The standard provides prescriptive requirements and other details of construction for buildings sited in wind climates of 100 to 150 mph in 10 mph increments.

D.   For wood frame construction, the referenced document is ANSI/AF&PA Wood Frame Construction Manual (WFCM) 2001 Edition, written by the American Forest and Paper Association.

E.    For cold-form steel construction the referenced document is ANSI/AISI/S230 Standard for            Cold-Formed Steel Framing-Prescriptive Method for One- and Two-Family Dwellings, written by the American Iron and Steel Institute.

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