Sussex County updates building codes to 2012 international standard

Georgetown, Del., June 4, 2013: New homes and commercial buildings are often constructed with the latest materials and state-of-the-art features. Now, they’ll have to meet new building code standards in Sussex County aimed at reducing costs and improving safety.

County Council, at its Tuesday, June 4, 2013, meeting, unanimously approved an ordinance to adopt the 2012 editions of the International Building Code and the International Residential Code for commercial buildings and dwellings, respectively. The codes are a standardized set of rules developed by the International Code Council, and adopted throughout the nation and world by cities, counties and states. Sussex County adopted the 2003 editions in March 2005.

“This is an evolutionary step so that builders are working to the latest standards and the public is benefiting from the most up-to-date practices,” said Andy Wright, chief of Building Code for Sussex County. “Just as any industry changes and adapts over time, whether it’s medicine or food production, standards and materials have changed in the building industry over the past seven years. This update reflects that growth and change in the industry.”

Some of the highlights of the building code update include:

  • A reduced wind rating, from 110 mph to 100 mph, for windows installed in new structures along coastal areas. Under the 2003 version of the code, new buildings along a roughly one-mile-wide strip of the Atlantic coastline were required to have windows that could withstand winds up to 110 mph. The ICC’s 2012 versions have relaxed that rating for Sussex County, which will reduce costs for builders and property owners who will now be able to install less-costly, standard windows;
  • A new requirement for carbon monoxide detectors in residential dwellings that feature fuel-fired appliances, such as gas stoves, furnaces, gas water heaters;
  • A new requirement for a fire-protection barrier in pre-engineered floors above crawl spaces in residential dwellings where fuel-fired equipment, such as a furnace, is present.

The changes adopted by Sussex County will be implemented over the next few months, with the new standards taking effect Oct. 1, 2013.

For questions about the Sussex County building code, contact the Building Code office at (302) 855-7860 or visit


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