Mandating residential fire sprinklers in new single-family homes will price low- and middle-income households out of Delaware's housing market.
Our members estimate that adding a fire sprinkler system to a new single-family home will increase the cost of a home by at least $8,000 - $10,000.
What you should know
The New Castle County Council is planning to vote soon on adopting the 2021 International Residential Code in its entirety. By not making any changes to the code, this will mean that all new single-family homes in New Castle County will be built with mandatory residential fire suppression systems. This will have devastating effects on housing attainability in New Castle County in a time when our country is facing one of the worst housing crises in its history.
The Home Builders Association of Delaware estimates that adding a fire sprinkler system to a new single-family home will increase the cost of a home by at least $8,000 - $10,000.
- Currently, 288,787 Delaware families cannot afford to buy a new home costing more than the median price of $470,721 (National Association of Home Builders)
- 391 additional Delaware homebuyers no longer qualify for a mortgage when the final price is raised by $1,000 (NAHB)
- Mandating residential fire sprinklers in new single-family construction would price 2,713 Delaware households out of the market for a median-priced new home (NAHB estimate based on data from National Fire Protection Association)
Since 2017, Delaware builders are mandated to offer sprinkler systems as an option to their new construction customers. In the last six years, four of the largest volume builders in New Castle County have built 4,169 homes and only seven customers have opted for sprinklers. That's a take-rate of 0.17%.
Balancing Safety & Affordability
Home fires are concentrated in older homes. Homes are built much safer today. Raising the price of a new home by $10,000 will force many families to stay in older homes and potentially be more susceptible to a devastating home fire. We ask that you help us keep the cost of new construction down and make the safety a new home provides attainable for more Delawareans.
The best ways to save the largest number of lives in the most cost-effective manner is to ensure the attainability of newer, safer homes and to educate owners of older homes on the importance of working smoke detectors.
Write or call your representative on the New Castle County Council and urge them to vote to strike sprinklers from the 2021 building code!
Sprinklers are a burden on homeowners
The cost of sprinklers does not end at the settlement table:
- Additional monthly costs for separate water hookup
- Potentially a $5,000+ increase if on well water
- Additional insurance coverage
- Yearly maintenance and inspection
- Repairs to frozen or burst pipes
- Replacement of corroded sprinkler heads
- Water damage incurred by mistakenly activating a sprinkler system
Smoke detectors are proven protection
Since the time that smoke detectors have been required in homes, there has been a significant drop in the number of reported fires, injuries, and fatalities in the United States.
- The rate of reported home fires fell from 3.2 per 1,000 population in 1980 to 1.1 in 2021, while the home fire death rate dropped from 23 per million population to 8.7 per million. (NFPA)
- The death rate per 1,000 home structure fires is 55% lower in homes with working smoke alarms than in homes with no alarms or alarms that fail to operate. (NFPA)
- Ensuring each home in the U.S. has at least one working smoke alarm would save close to 900 lives each year. (NAHB)
- Home fire fatalities are concentrated in older homes. Changing residential building codes to mandate fire sprinklers won't make older homes safer. Smoke detectors will, and they can be installed for less than $100. (NAHB)
Delaware home fire fatalities between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022 reported by the Delaware State Fire Marshal:
Civilian home fire fatalities
Fatalities in homes with working smoke detectors
Fatalities in homes without working smoke detectors