Building codes address and protect many concerns including environmental health, public health and safety, cost efficiency, and investment value. In theory, this should be the highest building standard; unfortunately it is not the case. There is a lot of room for individual interpretation of codes and laws, and interpretations can and do vary based on the municipality or individual interpreting the code. Although there are many reasons to consider building to a higher standard than code, we wanted to discuss three key reasons why you might consider making the switch from your code-only building program.
1. Greater Durability and Comfort. When homes are built above code, builders are more likely to go the extra mile to ensure that all materials and installations are customized for each individual unit and that high quality, long lasting materials are used. Many times, homes that are built to code use a “one size fits all” method in addition to cheaper materials (even on higher end homes), which decreases expenses and saves time in the initial stages. This can cause a multitude of problems that include air and water leaks, poor ventilation and early system failure. The costs to repair these items are often more expensive and time consuming than if it was done right the first time.
2. Lower Energy Costs. Home buyers demand lower energy costs. Code has been updated over the years to ensure that homes are more energy efficient, but again there is still a lot of room for individual interpretation. For example, installing cheaper quality HVAC units, using the minimum amount of insulation, and walking the line of the minimum standard for component installation may still pass code, but this will ultimately lead to a lower level of comfort for the homebuyer. When builders use higher quality products and ensure that installation of the items is correct, overall operation of the house will be much more efficient. This may mean higher upfront costs, but as the old saying goes, “you get what you pay for”.
3. Marketability. When home buyers are shopping multiple builders and home plans, they are bombarded with beautiful layouts and timeless upgrades. For many builders, it’s hard to gain an edge by just playing in the arena of “come see our beautiful homes”. Today’s homebuyers see long-term quality as a significant part of the purchase evaluation. Code homes can tell the buyer that “this home meets all applicable building codes”, and for buyers who are only shopping code-built homes, this may be enough. However, when two beautiful, shining homes are being compared and one is code-built and the other is above-code, buyers will tend to choose the home with the higher perceived level of quality. Simply, above-code homes have an inherent level of marketability that is hard to match from a code-only home.
Conclusion: Building an above code home creates a consistent product that buyers can trust. The reality is building a home strictly to code is meeting the bare minimum requirements to ensure the structure does not fall down, burn down, or flood. Many of our consultants have had experiences with homes that “pass” code standards, but have defects that could lead to a multitude of problems that include mold infestation, poor air quality, and impaired structural reliability. It is not only essential for builders to be versed on code but to understand how each individual piece contributes to the functionality of the home as whole, which ensures a higher quality product.
If you’re interested in learning how your team might be able to incorporate above-code building practices, contact the Burgess Team at 888-644-6489 or Online.