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Houston Public Works Proposes Revisions to IDM, Building Code, and Chapter 19 Ordinance

Wednesday, June 6, 2018  
Posted by: Shannon Roberts
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Proposed Revisions to Chapters 9 & 13 of the Infrastructure Design Manual & Proposed Revisions to the Houston Amendments to the 2012 International Building Code

Houston Public Works has recommended revisions to Chapters 9 and 13 of the Houston Infrastructure Design Manual ("IDM") and to the Houston Amendments to the 2012 International Building Code (the "Building Code").  Chapter 9 of the IDM covers the stormwater design requirements and includes rules for designing public storm sewer systems and private detention ponds.  Chapter 13 covers the stormwater quality design requirements and includes rules ensuring the quality of storm sewer discharge into receiving storm sewers.  Finally, the Building Code includes rules the City has adopted for new buildings and grading (shaping the land).

Houston Public Works is working to incorporate the Redevelopment and Drainage Task Force recommendations into the City's existing storm sewer design, drainage, and home building requirements in efforts to prevent redevelopment from having negative impacts on drainage.

A few key recommendations from the task force:

  • Eliminate the detention credit for redevelopment so redevelopments are required to provide the same amount of detention as new developments;
  • Require all developments (not just those larger than 1 acre) to demonstrate protection of overland sheet flow;
  • Lower thresholds for the requirement for fill and grade permits and engineered grading plans; and
  • Clarify/Allow sites to be graded to drain to outfalls outside of public right-of-way.

The public is invited to review the proposed revisions (linked below) and submit comments by the July 30, 2018, deadline. Click Here to Take the Survey. You may also email your comments to the Director of Houston Public Works at If approved, the revisions will go into effect on September 1, 2018. Any plans submitted prior to September 1, 2018, will be approved and constructed based on the old rules.

Design Standards Summary & FAQ 

Redline of Proposed Revisions to Chapter 9 of the IDM 

Redline of Proposed Revisions to Chapter 13 of the IDM

Redline of Proposed Revisions to the Building Code

Schedule for Public Comments 


Proposed Revisions to the Guidelines to Chapter 19 of the Houston Code of Ordinances

Houston Public Works is also recommending revisions to the Chapter 19 Guidelines ("Guidelines").  On April 3, 2018, by a vote of 9-7, City Council adopted amendments to Chapter 19 (the Floodplain Ordinance).  The Guidelines serve as a companion document to the Floodplain Ordinance and establish procedures for implementing the Floodplain Ordinance.  If approved, the Guidelines, linked below, will go into effect on September 1, 2018.


  • New Permit Procedures
  • Updated Design Procedures
  • Enhanced Enforcement Tools
  • Clarification of City Engineer's Duties
  • Incorporation of Substantial Damage Procedures

The public comment period relating to these proposed revisions to the Guidelines is now open through June 29, 2018.  If you wish to provide comments, please do so by June 29, 2018, by emailing the Director of Houston Public Works at

Draft Chapter 19 Guidelines

Thank you to the office of  Houston City Council Member Greg Travis (District G) for providing this helpful information. 

Houston Building Owners & Managers Association.
9 Greenway Plaza, Suite 100 | Houston, TX 77046