Case Study: The Uniform Plumbing Code Plays Well with Others in Idaho

Boise, IdahoThe State of Idaho adopts codes from various code-writing organizations to protect its citizens. It is comforting to know that IAPMO’s Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC) correlates well with the other adopted building codes from outside IAPMO’s family of Uniform Codes. One may think that adopting codes from various code developers can lead to inconsistency in their enforcement and applicability. However, this is not the case, as the various adopted codes have protected the citizens of Idaho for many years.

Some of the building codes adopted in Idaho are the 2015 UPC (with amendments), known as the 2017 Idaho State Plumbing Code, 2018 International Building Code (with amendments), 2018 International Residential Code (with amendments), and 2017 National Electrical Code (with amendments). The UPC is a model code adopted by the state of Idaho Division of Occupational and Professional Licenses for its Plumbing Program. This program was established to provide for the health and safety of the citizens of Idaho in private and public buildings by ensuring that plumbing practices are in compliance with the UPC as adopted. The program provides technical assistance to the public, building officials, and plumbing contractors. The program also registers apprentice plumbers, licenses plumbing contractors and journeymen, and regulates license compliance statewide.

When the Idaho State Plumbing Board adopted the 2017 Idaho State Plumbing Code, based on the 2015 UPC, it was determined that the code would be updated every six to nine years, which can span two or three code development cycles. When it is time to update the Idaho Plumbing Code, the Board-approved edition is obtained from IAPMO for review. The edition may or may not be the latest edition of the UPC. Upon review from the Board, the code, along with any approved amendments, then goes before the Idaho legislature for adoption throughout the state. A similar review process is done for all the adopted building codes, not just the UPC. After adoption by the legislature, all amendments to the UPC are then submitted to IAPMO for inclusion into the next edition of the Idaho State Plumbing Code. Once the Idaho State Plumbing Code with amendments has been thoroughly reviewed and completed, the documents are then provided to IAPMO for formatting, review, and publication.

As with the other adopted codes, the UPC is implemented by the state with amendments. Some model codes may require compliance with other codes not adopted by the state of Idaho, so such references are typically amended. Fortunately, the UPC does not require compliance with other IAPMO codes that are not adopted by the state of Idaho. The UPC leaves it up to the state of Idaho to decide what additional codes should be referenced, which leads to fewer amendments.

This is not to say that the UPC does not require any amendments—it does, as is typical with all the codes adopted. However, due to the minimal changes required, the UPC harmonizes well with the other adopted codes, such as the International Building Code and the National Electrical Code.

As mentioned, the UPC correlates well with Idaho’s library of adopted codes. Some have suggested that Idaho adopt codes from a single code developer for simplicity. On the surface that may seem logical, but the truth is that some code-writing organizations are experts in certain areas. IAPMO is well known for its plumbing codes and for being the experts on plumbing systems, NFPA for its fire codes and electrical codes, and ICC for its building codes. Therefore, implementation from the various code developers is required to provide Idahoans the best level of safety possible. All of Idaho’s Boards do their due diligence to review every code being adopted for any needed amendments suitable for the state of Idaho. Every state is different and will require different amendments, but for Idaho’s citizens and its plumbing industry, the 2017 Idaho State Plumbing Code, based on the 2015 UPC, is the best fit for providing a safe and cost-effective plumbing system in Idaho.

This case study was submitted by John Nielsen, Plumbing Program Manager for the Idaho Division of Occupational and Professional Licenses. He can be reached at [email protected].

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