South Carolina contemplates sprinklers in all new homes

A new code that requires sprinkler systems in all new home construction starting next year could be delayed under a proposal by Sen. David Thomas, R-Greenville.

Sprinklers would be required in all new homes built after Dec. 31 unless a Senate bill is passed that would stop enforcement of the code or Thomas' delay plan is adopted.

Thomas floated the idea during a three-hour hearing Wednesday that brought out testimony from home builders, who say the measure is too costly, and firefighters, who say it will save lives.

Thomas said more time was needed to help sort out "conflicting facts."

He proposed delaying by a year the requirement that was adopted by the International Residential Code last year and the S.C. Building Codes Council last month. Another option, he said, was implementing the code a year at a time based on square footage through 2014.

Thomas - who had hoped to have a roundtable discussion to come up with a compromise - did not say when a decision would be made on a possible delay.

A separate Senate bill would take away enforcement of the code requiring sprinklers and make builders give home buyers the option of installing a sprinkler system instead.

Installing sprinklers would add more than $4,000 to the cost of an 1,800-square-foot home in South Carolina at a minimum, said Mike Lowman, vice president of the Home Builders Association of South Carolina.

Read the complete story at