New Building Codes Raise Concerns About Housing Affordability

New nationwide building codes implemented by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) are facing criticism for potentially worsening the housing affordability crisis. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) argues that the stricter energy efficiency standards will significantly increase construction costs, particularly for entry-level and affordable housing units.

The 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) sets more rigorous benchmarks for energy efficiency in residential buildings. While proponents argue these codes will lead to long-term savings on energy bills, the NAHB cites studies suggesting that the upfront costs for builders could be as high as $31,000 per home. They further claim that recouping these expenses through energy savings could take homeowners nearly a century.

The NAHB contends that this policy contradicts the Biden administration’s goal of increasing housing availability. The stricter codes, they argue, will price out potential buyers, particularly in the already competitive market for starter homes and affordable rentals. Additionally, rising construction costs could limit access to mortgage financing for those same buyers.

The NAHB is urging a reevaluation of the nationwide implementation of the 2021 IECC. They advocate for a more nuanced approach that considers the impact on housing affordability, particularly for low- and middle-income families. It remains to be seen how this issue will be addressed and whether there will be modifications to the recently implemented building codes.


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