Builders can use R-4.2 rather than R-8 in ductwork after legislature passes bill to solve supply bottleneck

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R8 ductwork
R8 ductwork

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has signed a bill to relax regulations on insulated ductwork materials to alleviate supply chain challenges holding up construction projects across the state.

The “Budget Technical Corrections” legislation temporarily allows builders to use R-4.2 ductwork, with minimum insulation, instead of the more highly insulated R-8 ductwork.

Unfortunately, the R-8 product is scarce — meaning construction projects cannot be completed in a timely manner.

“Well, it’s a big deal, because there’s so much building going on throughout the whole state, and I’ve had numerous heating and air contractors contact me, and they’ve not been able to get ductwork and they’ve got projects that are installed, and they cannot get duct work to finish them,” North Carolina Sen. Steve Jarvis told WCNT-TV in a report broadcast March 25. Jarvis led the effort for the temporary rule change.

The objective of the previous regulation was to increase energy efficiency, but Jarvis said it didn’t make much of a difference.

“We had engineers that actually went through and done the calculations and may for certain that there was really no significant issue,” he said.

He said the R-8 insulation supply chain problems became significantly more severe in the past couple of months, “It would end up in higher housing costs, on top of the fact of more delays.”

The North Carolina Home Builders Association (NCHBA) had lobbied for the legislative change.

“It’s one of a million big other victories that we need,” said NCHBA legislative affairs director Steven Webb.

Webb told the broadcaster that supply chain issues continue to affect a number of other necessary building materials.

“It’s just one issue that we’re facing on the material front, there’s shortages across the line from lighting fixtures to bathroom faucets, to paint,” he said.

Webb said these shortages drive up costs, but the ductwork shortage has the potential to bring projects to a full halt. Jarvis said now that the bill has been signed, contractors can get the available ductwork and start back up immediately.

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