BLOGS: Multifamily Focus

2008-02-11, 16:35

National Green Building Standard for Multifamily Construction Continues to Develop

By: Multifamily Real Estate Industry Team
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the International Code Council (ICC) and the NAHB Research Center are continuing their work on a new standard for green buildings, with the goal of obtaining ANSI approval. Thereafter, the standard (as an ANSI standard) would be available for adoption by local building departments. The new standard will specifically address multifamily development and construction and is intended to be incorporated seamlessly into local building codes. Participation by ICC building officials encourages cities and counties to adopt the new standard.

The standard is being developed by a Consensus Committee made up of various stakeholders, including architects, builders, code officials, engineers, environmental advocates, manufacturers, and trade organizations. The next meeting of the Consensus Committee is scheduled for December 3 and 4, 2007 at the National Housing Center, 1201 15th Street, NW in Washington, DC. The purpose of the meeting is to provide a public venue for debate of public comments that have not yet been considered.

The entire development process is anticipated to be complete by the end of 2008. After completion of the ANSI process, the standard will be promulgated as a joint publication between NAHB and the International Code Council (ICC). For more information on the development of the new standard, go to

(This entry published by Karen Estelle Carey, A member of the Real Estate Development group)

Sprinklers and Smoke Detectors --- Must We Retrofit Existing Apartments?

By: Multifamily Real Estate Industry Team
It appears from a November 9, 2007 National Multifamily Housing Council building code update that many apartment owners and property managers are being pressured by local building officials to retrofit existing apartments with sprinklers and smoke detectors based on misinformation about what federal law requires.

The fact is that there are no federal requirements to retrofit sprinklers or smoke detectors. And the International Building Code (IBC) also contains no requirements for such retrofits. However, if an apartment building is in a jurisdiction in which the International Fire Code (IFC) has been adopted, there is a requirement for retrofitting of smoke detectors (although not sprinklers). The detectors can be battery powered if they are being placed in an existing building where no construction is taking place.

Likewise, in jurisdictions that are subject to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) regulations (jurisdictions in which the IBC and the IFC have not been adopted), existing buildings must be retrofitted with smoke detectors, but not sprinklers, and the detectors can be battery operated.

So to answer to the question "must we retrofit", you must determine which codes apply in the jurisdiction in which the facility is located. Persuading the local building officials that you need not retrofit is, of course, another matter.

(This entry published by Karen Estelle Carey, A member of the Real Estate Development group)

Good News for the Apartment Industry from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

By: Multifamily Real Estate Industry Team
A panel decision affirmed two lower court rulings that the two-year statute of limitations for civil actions alleging defective design and/or construction under the Fair Housing Act begins to run when the property is first occupied, and not when the alleged violation is discovered. The cases at issue involved apartment communities in the Las Vegas area and in Idaho. The court said that a failure to design or construct properly is not a "continuing violation", but is a discrete act, which is over with at the end of the design and construction stage (as a practical matter, this would mean at the end of the construction stage).

If this opinion stands up on appeal, it will be very good for the apartment industry. It will limit litigation in states covered by the Ninth Circuit (California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Alaska and Hawaii). Both plaintiffs have filed petitions for panel rehearing and rehearing en banc (Garcia on October 4, 2007 and Thompson on November 6, 2007)

The case is Garcia v. Brockway, 503 F.3d1092 (9th Cir.2007)

(This entry published by Karen Estelle Carey, A member of the Real Estate Development group)
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