Notebook > Business

Up to code

"Up to code" Continued...

Issue: "Babies are back," Jan. 29, 2011

That could make the next six years even tougher for builders, who are crawling out of a construction collapse. Housing starts rose slightly by year-end, but residential investments (made up of construction, remodeling, and commissions on real estate) composed only 2.23 percent of the U.S. economy in the third quarter of 2010-according to Bloomberg, the lowest amount since records began in 1946.

Minnesota housing starts were only a quarter of their pre-recession levels last year. As various states incorporate the 2009 code, Kerby believes the upgrade requirements will be like a "boot on your neck" for builders trying to sell: "Nobody's buying homes, so how can we fully understand the impacts of these additional costs?"

Log builders are uniquely impacted because "we can't just go throw a few more inches of insulation in the wall." Kerby said he is "still fighting for traditional log construction," but in the meantime Northwoods is developing a hybrid log wall that uses insulating foam to increase R-value. If energy code writers continue to tighten requirements, Kerby won't be the only one adapting to a nontraditional approach.

Daniel James Devine
Daniel James Devine

Daniel is a reporter for WORLD who covers science, technology, and other topics in the Midwest from his home base in Indiana. Follow Daniel on Twitter @DanJamDevine.

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