Opinion: Got Housing? New Building Codes will deepen the housing crisis

In her weekly column, Nancy Churchill offers further discussion about how new estimates from electrification advocates show construction costs for electrification makes home more expensive.

In her weekly column, Nancy Churchill offers further discussion about how new estimates from electrification advocates show construction costs for electrification makes homes more expensive

Nancy Churchill
Dangerous Rhetoric

Last week, in “Welcome to the Board,” we discussed boards, their duties and responsibilities. In addition to the common boards that you are familiar with, like school boards, there are many administrative boards that have been given rule or code making responsibilities by the state legislature. The Washington State Building Code Council (SBCC) is one of these powerful unelected boards. 

The State Building Code Council is the body that creates building codes for new construction. They are currently developing proposed code amendments that will require new residential construction to be all electric. The proposed new codes will force builders to install only electric heat and electric hot water heaters in order to meet goals to reduce the amount of CO2 created. Natural gas or propane will no longer be allowed. 

Unfortunately, according to Todd Meyers of the Washington Policy Institute, these requirements for all-electric home construction are based on outdated and inaccurate information from 2019. New estimates from electrification advocates show construction costs for electrification makes homes more expensive. Revised energy cost estimates also predict electricity costs will increase only one percent but natural gas costs will actually fall by 7 percent. These updated utility cost projections turn last years’ projected savings into next year’s costs. 

Finally, the proposed new rule does nothing to reduce CO2 emissions above what is already legally required. If these new requirements are not adopted, it will make no difference in Washington’s total emissions. 

Do you have a place to live? 

Unfortunately, the rush to all electric housing will have a very negative impact on the affordability of housing at a time when we are already in a housing crisis. Record inflation, higher building costs, materials shortages, the labor shortage, and rising mortgage rates are all already preventing people from finding affordable housing. 

Andrea Smith, policy and research manager in government affairs for the Building Industry Association of Washington, testified to the SBCC Technical Advisory Group that “This means that a fully-electric home would price out 22,000 people in our state,” she said. “We have a housing and homeless crisis right now, and, you know, it’s great that heat pumps allow for cooling, but it’s not so great if you can’t afford to shelter yourself in the first place.”

Why is the SBCC mandating the implementation of a building code that will NOT impact CO2, but WILL reduce affordable housing? 

It appears that the members of the SBCC don’t care about developing affordable housing. By outlawing the use of affordable and reliable energy sources like hydrocarbons, the climate crisis marxists are creating a new class of slavery, where only the privileged live well, and everyone else suffers in poverty, homelessness, cold, and hunger. 

In her weekly column, Nancy Churchill offers further discussion about how new estimates from electrification advocates show construction costs for electrification makes home more expensive.
File photo

What is the State Building Code Council? 

The State Building Code Council was created by the Legislature to develop the building codes used in Washington state. In addition to creating state-wide building codes, the SBCC also must approve amendments to local city or county building codes. The effect is that a local jurisdiction cannot weaken a building code, they can only make approved changes – usually to increase restrictions. This is a very powerful board. 

The State Building Code Council has 15 voting members which are appointed by the governor. In the past, these members were state experts in the building industry, but in recent years, Governor Inslee has been appointing “stakeholders” who will push forward his energy transformation policies. Elections matter even more than you realized. 

Regaining control

These unelected boards are a bit like a run-away horse… seemingly out of control. But just like a smart horseman can gradually regain control of a powerful but headstrong animal, we-the-people can also gradually regain control of our government. We must be smart, strong, patient, and fearless. Never doubt that we can win the fight against tyranny. Commit to doing your small part to make America great again. 

While an out of control government feels like a beast, in reality, it is more like a complicated machine. There are rules, laws, and processes. To fix a machine you grab the manual. Calmly put your thinking cap on, and study the rule making process used by the SBCC and their TAG. These people can be influenced, but you have to understand the rules to plan your next right action. Letters to the board members seem like a good place to start, followed by attending board meetings. 

For long term success, we must work to elect a Republican majority to the Washington House and Senate, so that we regain the ability to rewrite legislation that gives too much power to unelected bureaucrats without any way to rein in their excesses. Let your representatives know you’re ready for change, and work tirelessly to get Republicans elected in Washington state. I hope to see you at a board meeting soon. 

Nancy Churchill is the state committeewoman for the Ferry County Republican Party. She may be reached at DangerousRhetoric@pm.me. The opinions expressed in Dangerous Rhetoric are her own.


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RCxyz
RCxyz
21 days ago

I am confused by the statement: New estimates from electrification advocates show construction costs for electrification makes homes more expensive.

Since, regardless of the law, these new homes would have been wired for electricity and and with the law no gas hookups or gas plumbing is needed, how does that make the construction cost more expensive? Also, in a new home subdivision, no gas infrastructure would be required (so that is also a cost savings). Lastly, the gas appliances that you get in new construction typically cost more than electric.

DavidL
DavidL
13 days ago

Pure opinion, no facts.
How is this going to price out anyone?

The difference is between a gas range and an electric range (gas still requires electrical wiring as well), between a gas water heater and an electric water heater, and gas heat vs electric heat. The difference in price between comparable components is minimal at best. Many are already replacing their heating systems with ductless mini-split systems (Heat pumps) which would save money as ductwork would not be installed so cost of ducts and installation time would save a lot of money. Going all electric might actually cause the price of a home to come down a little. At worst the price is not likely to change at all.

I am in agreement with the other comment here, the statement New estimates from electrification advocates show construction costs for electrification makes homes more expensive.”
The statement makes no sense. No one who advocates for something will likely indicate that their proposal/idea is more expensive. That would turn off any potential support.

Further, this is what Mr. Myers says:
“For construction in Seattle, the new data show that construction costs are $6,763.84 for a home with a natural gas furnace and air conditioning, and $3,402.84 without air conditionng. For an all-electric home, the construction cost is $6,847, adding between $3,400 and $83 to construction costs. The analysis for Spokane is similar.”
https://www.washingtonpolicy.org/publications/detail/proposal-to-require-all-electric-home-construction-based-on-outdated-and-inaccurate-information

This is a very misleading comparison.
Electrical heating is typically a heat pump of some kind, which usually includes air conditioning (notice he does not give an electric with or without A/C number). So the conclusion that can be drawn is that between comparable homes, the difference is between 6763.84 for gas and 6847 for electric. Or $83.
New Seattle homes have a median price of 800,000 to 900,000 dollars. So going all electric will increase the cost of an 800K home by 0.01% It is hard to see how that little of a difference would price thousands out of the market. If the affordability of a home rests on whether or not you can afford an extra 100 dollars, you couldn’t afford the home to begin with.

Further Mr Myers points out the higher use cost of electric over gas:
“Using the old numbers, the electrification alternative saves $1,922 over the 50-year analysis timeline. Using the new numbers, the electrification alternative costs $303 more than using gas.”
So Mr. Myers is saying that by going all electric it will add 50 cents a month to your bill.
But he doesn’t actually show how he got his numbers.
Did he take into account that if you went all electric you would not have a gas bill?
Is his cost/savings numbers based on the gas+electric vs. electric costs?

It is important to also ask why they focus on CO2 emissions. Not using gas in the home would eliminate CO from the home entirely. CO is much more deadly and dangerous than CO2.
Even so, as pointed out in Mr. Myers article the state already will require a reduction in CO2 levels, what the electrification proposal does is provides the method to reach that reduction. To say that the electrification proposal is unnecessary because the levels will be lowered anyway (by going all electric) is an interesting way to present the situation.

Mr. Myers himself seems to be a bit of a contradiction. As a green energy advocate, why is he against electrification which is considered green energy?
Also why has he spoken in forums supporting the use of fossil fuels?

He has also stated that
Most notably, a ban on natural gas heating does nothing to reduce the state’s CO2 emissions because the cap-and-trade system already achieves that goal.”
https://www.clarkcountytoday.com/opinion/opinion-building-code-councils-proposed-ban-on-natural-gas-would-do-nothing-to-reduce-co2-emissions/

But cap and trade does not actually reduce CO2 emissions at all. Cap and trade is a shell game, where you can exceed CO2 emission requirements as long as you offset it with something else. In many cases, a company is allowed to “reduce” their carbon footprint by “buying” credits. In other words, for every $$ they give to the government, the government will deduct a % of CO2 from their emissions. Not actually remove a % but reduce the count. Net result, no -actual- reduction just a reduction on paper. Whereas requiring a ban on Natural gas, which would actually reduce CO2, while an apparently extreme measure would at least really do what it is proposed to do.

The above article appears to be less about building codes and more about why the people should elect Republicans. Although that seems to be unsupported opinion as well.