A tip: Buy stock in sprinkler companies.
The International Building Codes are the model codes that North Carolina uses to produce its own set of Codes. For instance, the 2009 NC Building Code is based entirely on the 2006 International Building Code. (NC almost always adopts the previous version of the International Code 3 years after publishing.)
That means, come 2012, it’s a pretty good bet that North Carolina will be adopting the 2009 version of the International Residential Code. Of course, NC will probably modify it with its own amendments (we have to make it our “own”).
One new requirement in the 2009 IRC that is getting much publicity in those states that are in the process of adopting the Code relates to fire sprinklers. ALL townhouses constructed under the 2009 Code must have fire sprinkler systems installed in compliance with NFPA 13D. Single-family and Duplex dwellings will be required to have fire sprinkler systems beginning January 1, 2011.
In plain English: Unless North Carolina adds an exception, ALL new single-family houses will be required to have a sprinkler system. Once the new code is adopted in North Carolina in 2012 (assumed), you will be required to spend $4,000-8,000 for a sprinkler system for your new home. You will also be required to maintain it (more $).
(Actually, exceptions to the sprinkler requirement for townhouses has already been proposed to the NC Building Code Council. You can bet that exceptions will also be proposed for one and two-family residential structures as well.)
We’ll be watching this one very closely.