Thought that hard-wired smoke detector installations and other costly code-compliance renovations were expensive, the new energy efficiency standards will soon be implemented. How soon? Anne Arundel County is holding a hearing this February to adopt new changes to the existing building codes, which will include adoption of the most recent version of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC 2015). This is a significant change for the county's owners of historic buildings. Not on the historical register, not to worry, for the the definition of "historical" now covers virtually any residential structure under three stories tall (commerical standards apply to those). Also, just as any change in ownership, configuration, or occupancy evokes the county requirements to upgrade smoke detectors, etc., just about any permitting "trigger" event could potentially bring with it the entire set of IECC requirements. Of course, there is a way to defer or exempt a historic property from one or more of these new energy efficiency requirements. Here's the gist of the new rules/process:
With the new 2015 IECC, historic buildings are no longer exempt. Instead alterations and repairs to historic buildings must comply with the IECC to the extent that such compliance does not compromise the historic nature and function of the building. Where compliance would compromise the historic nature or function of the building a report must be submitted to the code official from the owner, a registered design professional or representative of the historic preservation authority having jurisdiction. IMT Energy Code Compliance Fact Sheet Link
In other words, a historic property owner must now seek a written exemption, which may or may not be granted, or comply with the new energy conservation code requirements. Upgrading a property's insulation, fenestration (windows), etc. can result in a significant operating cost increase for a landlord--particularly if it is a typical "short-notice" triggering event, such as an unforeseen change in tenancy. The potential upside is that a more energy efficient residence should be a more valuable rental asset in the long run and could be a significant marketing plus following completion.
We recommend hiring state certified/trained weatherization professionals if you're a rental property owner facing county mandated IECC upgrades. This will ensure that you're getting the best value for your investment and it will also make the mandatory compliance inspections go a whole lot smoother. A final word of advice, don't even think about doing these upgrades yourself or without pulling a permit. We promise that you'll spend a whole lot more in time, aggrivation, and money than you could have possibly thought you were saving!