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'08 marks changes in building code; Revisions affect contractors statewide.

Byline: Gail Stanton

WINCHENDON - As the year draws to a close, so does the time frame in which contractors can work under the sixth edition of the state Building Code.

"If they have a permit in hand or have applied for one, they'll fall under the old code. But if they haven't, they'll have to follow the new code," said Building Inspector Paul Blanchard.

The seventh edition of the code takes effect Jan 1.

The new regulations will affect contractors across the state, as they are applicable to every town and city in Massachusetts, Mr. Blanchard said.

While the new code brings with it many changes, that shouldn't be news to area contractors. The code actually went into effect in April, but had a six-month overlap attached to it.

"It was at the choice of the contractor," Mr. Blanchard said, as to whether contractors adopted the new code sooner rather than later.

The code was slated to officially be put into place Oct. 1.

"Then the state had some issues with the wording of the code, so an extension was given until Jan. 1," he said.

Changes in the code center on wind and uplift.

"Things have to be secure," the inspector said.

To help achieve that security, the new code includes more regulations concerning the number of brackets, hangers and bolts that must be used in building construction. As a result, greater detail must be put into the building plans.

The state's seventh code is built upon the code produced by the International Code Council in 2003.

"That code was used in a base form and then the state adds addendums," Mr. Blanchard said. "It has taken four years to get it done."

The insurance industry plus constant changes in technology and systems affect building codes. According to the inspector, building codes are an ever-changing document.

Although it had been expected that new construction would increase after the first of the year, when Winchendon's building cap expires, the slow economy and the new codes may affect the expected increase.

"Only 25 of the possible 50 new construction permits have been pulled so far this year," said the inspector, adding that the department may see a small rush of permit applications by the end of the year.

While the changes will definitely have an affect on new construction, the new code shouldn't cause problems for builders.

"Really, all of this just means more plans and a few more inspections," said Mr. Blanchard.
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Dec 19, 2007
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