Fire sprinkler mandates could slam homeowners with thousands in extra costs

(July 1, 2013)  Proposed changes to the state’s Life Safety Code would mandate that all new single-and two-family residential construction must have fire sprinkler systems.

The rule changes were filed by the Office of the State Fire Marshal on Friday, June 28, 2013, in the Notice of Rulemaking in the Illinois Register.  

The Illinois Association of REALTORS® has long opposed a fire sprinkler mandate, noting that the mandate adds significantly to the price tag for a new home. The association has successfully fought the measure in municipalities throughout Illinois, but the new rules would be applied statewide.

IAR’s research showed that a sprinkler system installed in construction of a 3,100-square-foot home would be more than $10,300. Studies conducted by the association showed that the mandates were hugely unpopular with homeowners who preferred the option to make their own decisions about whether or not to include the systems.

The list of building code changes is lengthy, and IAR is reviewing the full filing.  Among other impacts, there are many rules changes that could affect high-rise complexes and even small churches could find themselves forced to install costly systems.

What’s next?

The notice launches a review by the state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to determine the impact on businesses. It also allows in some cases for a public hearing if an appropriate request is made within 14 days of the rules’ posting.

The first stage of the process can last no less than 45 days.

The next step would be consideration by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) which is a 12-member, bipartisan legislative oversight committee.  

The public can file comments opposing the rule changes. A list of the members can be found here.

IAR has done extensive work on this issue. A list of resources and a copy of IAR’s report on the impact a residential sprinkler mandate might have can be found here