Reuben Saltzman

Sprinkler Systems to be Required in All New MN Homes, Existing Homes by 2016

SprinklerPost update: Happy April Fools Day.  This is a joke.  There are no requirements to install sprinkler systems in existing homes, there never has been, and I’m sure there never will be.  Same goes for ball pits on the sides of stairways in lieu of guardrails.  I thought this was obvious, but the folks at the State started fielding angry calls by 7:30 am today.  I don’t want to make anyone’s life more difficult.

Minnesota will be following the steps of California, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and South Carolina this year with our adoption of the 2012 International Residential Code (IRC), which includes a controversial provision for sprinkler systems.  It’s a fairly small paragraph in section R313 of the IRC, but also a very important one.  Here’s the text:

R313.2 One- and two-family dwellings automatic fire systems.
An automatic residential fire sprinkler system shall be installed in one- and two-family dwellings.

According to Fire Sprinkler Initiative, the cost of a sprinkler system will add approximately $1.35 per sprinklered square foot.  For a 2,500 sf home that is fully finished, this would add approximately $3,375 to the cost of the home.  It’s a tough pill to swallow, and home builders have been vehemently opposed to this requirement, but it’s finally going to happen in Minnesota.

Existing Home Requirements

According to Minnesota’s Chief Building Official Ronald McSevergny, there will be a phase-in requirement for sprinkler systems to be added to existing homes.  Beginning in 2015, all existing homes that are sold as part of a real estate transaction will be required to have a sprinkler system installed.  Details of exactly when the system will need to be installed are unclear at this point, but I suspect it will be similar to existing requirements for Truth-in-Sale of Housing Evaluations.

The plan is that by 2016, all existing homes will be required to have sprinkler systems installed.

When learning of the new requirement for residential sprinklers, local firehouse Captain Charles “Chuck” DeFries simply stated “I’m lovin’ it”. “This has always been a safety issue for us and we feel it’s just the next evolutionary step in fire safety”.

Next week I’ll be discussing other portions of the 2012 IRC, which includes a provision for added fall protection ‘safety zones’ for dropoffs greater than 30″ at decks, which includes options for rubber mulch or ball bits.

Author: Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections


8 responses to “Sprinkler Systems to be Required in All New MN Homes, Existing Homes by 2016”

  1. Tim Walz
    April 1, 2014, 1:16 pm

    Reuben – I just realized what the date is……please tell me you were playing with us on this one.

  2. The Real Story About Residential Fire Sprinklers in Minnesota | Structure Tech Home Inspections
    April 2, 2014, 4:25 am

    […] Yesterday’s April Fools Day blog post got a lot of folks whipped up about residential sprinkler systems.  Just in case you missed it, here it is: April Fools Day Blog Post. […]

  3. Buddy Dewar
    April 2, 2014, 7:50 am

    Does ST inform the homebuyers during their inspection process of structural safety problems during fires found in new homes? Do they ask the new home buyers to do an Internet search “Lightweight Construction Fire Safety” and review the 1.4 million sites that dimension the fire safety problem in new homes that the code committee chose fire sprinklers as the least cost option to mitigate the problem? Making jokes over a significant fire safety problem is not Truth-In-Housing.

  4. Reuben Saltzman
    April 2, 2014, 1:42 pm

    @Buddy – um, yeeaahhh….

  5. Joe Kones
    April 2, 2014, 4:00 pm

    Totally unprofessional conduct from you. I can’t believe that you would think this was a funny thing to post.

  6. Reuben Saltzman
    April 2, 2014, 4:28 pm

    @Joe – I’m sorry you feel that way.

  7. Nathan Mitchell
    April 16, 2014, 12:39 pm

    Very informative post. I recommend planting rose bushes in the ‘fall protection safety zone’. The thorns catch hold and keep you from hitting the ground.

    Is sprinkler installation a good DIY project? I see a trip to Menards in my future…

  8. Reuben Saltzman
    April 17, 2014, 4:15 am

    @Nathan – good plan with the rose bushes. An even easier DIY project that would be a good alternative to a sprinkler system would to be cover your ceiling with filled water balloons.

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