July 7, 2020
To: State and Local Executive Officers
From: NAHB Senior Officers
Re: ICC “Open Letter to Home Builder Associations”
Late last week, it came to NAHB’s attention that the International Code Council (ICC) sent an “Open Letter to Home Builders Associations” to many of our home builder affiliates in an apparent effort to stymie NAHB’s examination of the model code development process and our efforts to determine what is best for builders and housing affordability.
We knew nothing of this plan or the distribution of the letter until it had already been sent. We see this as an extreme breach of the trust and open communication we have been trying to foster with the ICC. Obviously, a private entity reaching out directly to our membership is highly unusual and, particularly in this case, inappropriate.
As you know, NAHB and ICC have a longstanding partnership in which NAHB supports the I-Codes as long as builders have appropriate representation during the model code development process and the process follows appropriate protocols. NAHB and ICC also strive to work cooperatively on national policy issues related to building codes when our interests align. Working with ICC, however, has become increasingly contentious given the recent controversies during the 2021 codes cycle; their increasing advocacy for more stringent, less affordable codes at all levels of government; and the housing affordability crisis.
Unfortunately, the letter has now made the situation even worse. By minimizing NAHB’s concerns and inappropriately prejudging the outcome of our appeals, ICC is seemingly trying to permanently fracture our relationship. For example, the letter suggests ICC is aware of the purported problems and is merely looking into them, but we know our members want and expect more from their partner. Equally troubling, the letter states that “Some of the issues outlined above are unlikely to result in changes via the appeals process as they do not address deviations from established policies,” yet the Appeals Committee hasn’t even heard the arguments.
It is clear that ICC is more interested in preserving itself and its business model than doing what is best for builders and housing affordability or maintaining a positive relationship with NAHB. Rest assured, we remain on top of the situation. We heard the rumblings at the International Builders’ Show and the members made it glaringly clear at the Spring Leadership meetings that the model code development process is broken and needs to be fixed – with or without ICC.
We are taking a proactive stance. As many of you may have heard, in March we created a Task Force of NAHB members to look at the codes development, adoption and implementation processes; how building codes impact housing affordability; and to recommend solutions. The Task Force has been meeting regularly and is expected to present its recommendations to us no later than next year’s IBS. Importantly, one aspect of its work is to reach out to EOs and members to get feedback on building codes and potential solutions to ensure the recommendations reflect the sentiments of the federation.
Clearly, we are very disappointed by the ICC’s most recent actions and have requested a meeting to discuss this matter further. NAHB is committed to taking the steps necessary to ensure that the building codes that our members rely on every day are necessary, practical and cost effective.