Building code updates mulled during BOMA workshop

Builders in particular and businesses in general can expect to see some changes in the Town of Farragut after April 11.

Paul Karl Swierzko, Farragut building official, proposed updates to the Town’s building codes during a workshop Thursday, March 7.

The first reading of the ordinance is slated to appear on the agenda for the Board’s meeting Thursday, March 28. If passing that test, the second reading will be on the April 11 agenda.

“(Swierzko) came in last year, and he’s spearheaded efforts with our staff to help get our codes updated,” Town administrator David Smoak said.

Swierzko explained the state requires municipalities to adopt, by ordinance, a version of the codes within seven years of the most recently published edition of the code, which was 2018.

“We all know the purpose of the codes is to establish minimum requirements to safeguard public health, safety and general welfare in construction,” he said. “The adopted codes are the minimum accepted requirements and/or standards that we enforce and inspect for compliance.

“Protection of life, health and property is the solemn responsibility and highest order” for the codes department staff, Swierzko added.

Planning Commissioner Jon Greene asked if these codes get the Town’s codes in line with those of neighboring municipalities.

Swierzko said it does, as Knox County and City of Knoxville adopted the same 2018 version of the codes as of Jan. 1.

However, Board member Drew Burnette said he thought the Town’s codes were “worlds apart” from Knox County and City of Knoxville. He added he has heard from constituents who also relayed that sentiment.

Swierzko asked that they contact the codes office so officials can find out what the problems are.

Amendments to the Town’s current codes include:

• Allowing an additional completion time on new construction projects. So, instead of a builder having to complete a project in 12 months, as currently required, he would have 16 months.

“This is something I support,” Swierzko said. “Additional completion time will benefit the developer/contractor due to unforeseen construction delays and inclement weather.”

• Repeal an amusement device code, which is obsolete.

• Change Article 12 to allow a builder to make alterations or additions to an existing building without having to bring the entire building into compliance.

“This code allows for options for controlled departure from full compliance of new construction while maintaining levels for fire prevention, structural and life safety features,” Swierzko said.

• Added new language to the International Fire Code Section 903.3 regarding floor control valves to state: “Where required by fire code official.”