Spring is just around the corner and temperatures are slowly rising, which means building season is approaching.
Contractors across the North Country are getting ready for the snow to melt, and with that in mind, officials are reminding builders to take note of updates to the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code and the New York State Energy Conservation Construction Code.
Saranac Lake Village Code Enforcement Officer Tom Worthington says all new construction and additions - as well as repairs and alterations to existing buildings - are subject to the newly-revised state codes, which took effect late last year.
"With building season on the way, we feel it is important for homeowners and contractors to understand and prepare for the changes to the Uniform Code and Energy Code," he said in a prepared statement.
Worthington says contractors need to pay particular attention to the state's new energy code.
He notes that in the past, only "substantial" renovations to existing buildings were subject to code requirements. Now, all additions, alterations, and renovations are subject to state regulations.
The revised codes also affect roofing projects, Worthington adds.
According to officials, any roof project that results in the exposure of insulation or sheathing will be subject to the Energy Code, meaning that requirements for insulation and ventilation must be met.
The changes aim to increase the energy efficiency of existing buildings, saving owners money over the long haul. But, as Worthington notes, that also means higher up-front costs.
"While I support the goal of increasing energy efficiency of existing buildings, I am concerned about how this code change will affect building owners who need to make emergency repairs to roofs," he said.
"I would have liked to see some exception for emergencies," Worthington added. "However, it is state law and we will enforce it."
Village officials say it's important for contractors or homeowners to consult with the Code Enforcement Office before undertaking new construction or renovation projects.
Worthington says most renovations - roofing and siding included - require a building permit.
"There are very few exceptions," he said.
For example, Worthington notes there is no such thing as the "25 percent" rule. He says it's a common misconception that renovation projects that are less than 25 percent of the total structure or roof size do not require a permit.
For most small residential projects, permits cost $50, Worthington says.
If a project begins before receiving a permit, the homeowner or contractor could incur an additional $50 fee from the village.
Worthington says property owners and builders should contact him with any questions.
He adds that the Uniform Code and the Energy Code are available online at www.dos.state.ny.us. Local building permit applications are available at the village offices on Main Street in Saranac Lake.