This Week's Codes and Standards, May 14

Denver's plan to fund affordable housing with marijuana tax revenue, inspectors using drones, and new liability rules for general contractors in Maryland

By Peter Fabris, Contributing Editor | May 14, 2018
Marijuana plant
Photo: Unsplash/Drew Taylor

New Resources Offer Tips on Off-site Construction


The National Institute of Building Sciences Off-Site Construction Council has released three new documents concerning modular construction.

These new resources are:

  • “Getting the Most Out of Off-Site Construction: Steps for Success,” which provides a step-by-step approach to help overcome barriers. It outlines the process for the deployment of an effective off-site construction project.
  • “Using Precast Concrete as an Off-Site Construction Strategy” looks at the reduction in the number of trade-to-trade coordination points on-site; addresses quality control at the plant and referenced standards and certifications; considers the impact to the construction schedules; and offers case studies, including the challenges of the project and reason for choosing off-site construction methods.
  • “The Rise of Modular Construction: Emerging Commercial and Legal Considerations” examines some of the perceived challenges to effectively utilizing off-site construction methods, such as the application of building codes; licensing and permitting requirements; whether to treat the fabricator as a subcontractor or supplier; how long to maintain project records; lien and prompt payment statutes; and insurance twists.


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Maryland Makes General Contractors Liable for Failure of Subs to Pay Employees


General contractors in Maryland will be held liable for the failure of subcontractors to pay their employees in accordance with the state’s wage and hour law. The new law will go into effect on October 1, 2018. GCs could be held liable for up to three times the wages owed, plus reasonable attorneys' fees and other costs.

Previously, responsibility for fulfilling wage laws had been solely the responsibility of the direct employer. The law does require that a subcontractor indemnify a general contractor for “any wages, damages, interest, penalties, or attorney's fees owed as a result of the subcontractor's violation.”

But, this protection may be meaningless if the subcontractor is unable to pay such damages. It is expected that general contractors will likely require subcontractors to obtain a bond or insurance to protect against the possibility of wage claims by subcontractor employees. This would likely increase the cost of construction projects in Maryland.

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ASHRAE Seeks Public Comments on Revisions to Energy-Efficient Low-Rise Residential Standard


ASHRAE is seeking a second round of public comments on proposed revisions to BSR/ASHRAE/IES Standard 90.2-2007R – Energy-Efficient Design of Low-Rise Residential Buildings. The standard is open for a 45 day public review until June 18.

Standard 90.2-2007R is intended to provide minimum energy-efficiency requirements for the design and construction of residential buildings. This revision aims to deliver residential building energy performance that is at least 50% more efficient than the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), which serves as the industry benchmark.

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Home Inspectors Turn to Drones to Examine Roofs


Home inspectors in Florida have turned to drones to inspect roofs. The aerial alternative to ladders and booms is safer and cheaper. Using drones can be as little as one-tenth of the cost of hiring a ladder crew or renting a boom.
Following storms, drones can provide homeowners definitive proof of damage. This offers some protection from scammers.

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Denver to Use Marijuana Taxes to Fund Affordable Housing


The City of Denver is planning to devote a portion of marijuana tax collections to fund construction of affordable housing. Previously, the city had only used the portion of marijuana tax revenue not already earmarked to cover one-time costs like paving roads.

City leaders were uncertain about how big the business would become. Now, after a few years of legal sales, there is a track record to plan for longer-term projects. Tax collections from the nascent pot industry have climbed steadily, up 45% since 2015 to more than $44 million.

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