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Code Alert: South Carolina, 01 September 2009



A recent question addressed by the South Carolina Building Codes Council at their August 26, 2009 meeting concerned the language of the preamble for Chapter 33 of the 2006 Edition of the International Residential Code (IRC), which states the requirements of the chapter are based on the 2005 NEC. This question was raised based on the recent adoption and implementation of the 2008 National Electrical Code® (NEC) on July 1, 2009 by the State of South Carolina. The question asked was to clarify which edition of the NEC (2005 or 2008) that may be used as a reference for the 2006 IRC.

South Carolina Building Codes Council Chairman, Frank Hodge, brought to the council’s attention that many local jurisdictions were confused over the use and references in the 2006 IRC to NEC electrical requirements. Gary Wiggins, South Carolina Codes Council Staff Administrator, somewhat surprised the council and those in attendance by declaring that since the state adopted the 2008 NEC per the provisions of South Carolina law that the 2008 NEC requirements must be used in both residential and commercial installations. A lively discussion followed with inspectors and building officials generally expressing the need for clarification and that the addition of 2008 NEC for residential installations was not an issue once understood. In some public testimony it was stated that the IRC as a standalone code which covers all residential situations, while other gave examples where the IRC is limited such as to 400 ampere services and the use of the NEC is required.

Overall it was evident the codes council would like to prevent this type of misunderstanding in future code cycles and many discussed moving NEC adoption to the IRC cycle with other testimony being that other states have amendments which omit the electrical sections of the IRC and use the latest adopted NEC in its place. One council member stated that if the South Carolina Building Codes Council waited to pick up new electrical requirements per the IRC cycle that would mean South Carolina would be very far behind the rest of the country and that residential electrical requirements could be as much as 9 years old at times.

In the interim, the council discussed sending out a policy notice indicating that the 2006 IRC could be used but any areas not covered or IRC references to the NEC must be made to the 2008 edition. Building Codes Council members decided against sending such a notice but indicated support for building officials to follow this position until notified differently. All of this lead to a directive being sent out to all South Carolina jurisdictions informing them that:

The Council reviewed the language of the preamble along with the applicable state law and concluded that the 2008 NEC is the current electrical code as required by state law and was duly adopted and implemented. Council also agreed that two editions of the same code cannot be valid for use at the same time.

Therefore, it is the Council’s opinion that:

  • Construction of single and two family residences, including all related systems must be in compliance with the IRC; and,
  • If a specific issue is not addressed in the electrical section of the IRC, the 2008 NEC may be used.

Contact: John Minick: john.minick@nema.org