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Code Q&A: Answers to Common and Challenging Code Questions

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AIA Pittsburgh surveyed its members to find out the most pressing code-related questions. Using these results, Erik Harless from PLI will address these pre-selected questions to help attendees navigate and interpret some of the more complicated issues that arise on projects. This discussion will focus on interpreting the current building code while providing insight into the plan review and permitting process so that solutions can be identified.

Published in: Design
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Code Q&A: Answers to Common and Challenging Code Questions

  1. 1. Question: • When does a client need to pull a building permit? Occupancy permit (NewTenant but same use type)?
  2. 2. Application • Application Plan Review • Plan Review Approval • Approval Permit Issuance • Permit Issuance Inspection • Inspections Final • Final Inspection Certificate of Occupancy • Certificate of Occupancy
  3. 3. Question: • When does a client need to pull a building permit? Occupancy permit (NewTenant but same use type)?
  4. 4. Question: • Types of occupancy permits (Certificate of Occupancy /Temporary CO / Partial Occupancy), how each one is used, and application procedures for each.
  5. 5. Question: • Interface with Department of City Planning on applications for CO / TCO / Partial Occupancy. Specifically, hashing out the wording of the occupancy description (this seems to be a constant struggle with Planning).
  6. 6. Question: • Discussion about existing Certificates of Occupancy. What determines if new work can be performed under an existing CO, or if a new one needs to be obtained? How does the wording of the occupancy description impact this?
  7. 7. Question: Can you talk about the various issues around NOT having an occupancy permit: a. If there is a permit but the building is clearly being used for another purpose. What is the occupancy, can IEBC be used or must Chapter 34 be followed?
  8. 8. Question: Can you talk about the various issues around NOT having an occupancy permit: (b) If there is only a permit for part of the building, for example the upper floor apartments but not the retail use on the ground floor and basement, what is the occupancy, can IEBC be used or must Chapter 34 be followed?
  9. 9. Question: Can you talk about the various issues around NOT having an occupancy permit: How does the age of the building affect questions (a) and (b)? Does the City of Pittsburgh use a date other than April 27, 1927, as referenced in UCC 403.28(a)?
  10. 10. Question: • I’m confused by IBC Chapter 34, 3412.6 Evaulation Process, reading in part, “In applying this section to a building with mixed occupancies, where the separation between the mixed occupancies does not qualify for any category indicated in Section 3412.6.16, the score for each occupancy shall be determined and the lower score determined for each section of the evaluation process shall apply to the entire building.” • Am I correct that, for example, 3412.6.1 Building Height is evaluated for the lowest score of a mixed, unseparated residential occupancy and then for a mixed, unseparated retail occupancy with the lowest of those two scores then being used in filling out ONETable 3412.7 for the building?
  11. 11. Question: • Occupancy verses Use: How rooms become assembly in a business occupancy and how occupant load and construction types are impacted.
  12. 12. Question: • Occupancy verses Use: How rooms become assembly in a business occupancy and how occupant load and construction types are impacted.
  13. 13. Question: • I’m confused aboutTable 503 building heights. If I have a two story buildingType 5B with an R1 occupancy on the first story less than 5,000 sq. ft., but there is a single story A-1 occupancy less than 5,000 sq. ft. on the second story, (where 1 story, 5,500 sq. ft. is permitted) is that OK byTable 503 alone since the A-1 occupancy is only on one story?
  14. 14. Question: • ConstructionType and rating requirements in existing buildings: How to document existing construction to meet building code requirements.
  15. 15. Question: • If I need a 2 hour or 3 hour horizontal separation for a building do the beams and columns supporting that separation need a 2 hour or 3 hour fire rating?
  16. 16. Question: • Is the City planning to adopt the entire 2015 International Residential Code? Why or why not? • Is there any work being done within PLI to advocate for adoption of the most recent ICC Codes within Pennsylvania? As it is my understanding that code inspectors can only test to the most recent version of the ICC Codes, and enforcing to a previous version is onerous for PLI.
  17. 17. http://www.dli.pa.gov/ucc/Pages/default.aspx
  18. 18. Question: • A $5 million hospital equipment upgrade (that will benefit thousands of patients in the area) is placed in the same queue with a residential garage roof replacement. Can the City be asked why this situation exists and what can be done to expedite the Building Permit process?
  19. 19. Question: • The backlog for getting a Permit in the last year has been consistently as long as 6 weeks, particularly for smaller projects that can be a crippling time frame in moving forward with a very simple project. Is there any movement towards separating Projects by size? Or cost? Or a separate Single Family Residential Review Process – given that these projects are typically far more straightforward.
  20. 20. Question: • Single Family Residential Additions and Renovations tend to be far more straightforward than larger projects. It used to be that you could walk in to apply for a Permit for an addition or renovation and move through the process fairly easily. If an engineer was free they would look over the submission right away and provide a review – either issuing a Permit or requesting more information. Will there be any sort of simplification for these types of Projects in the future as opposed to getting in line with the other much larger Projects?
  21. 21. Question: • Why did PLI stop theThursday afternoon walk-through reviews?... • Why did the department eliminate (or not have a replacement for) the expedited permit approval for small projects?
  22. 22. http://pittsburghpa.gov/pli/ http://pittsburghpa.gov/pli/
  23. 23. Question: • In the past, PLI (BBI) would meet with project teams to go over preliminary code reviews to provide guidance early in the project. Our intent in those discussions was to gain any insight that the plan reviewer may be able to provide to point the design team toward a compliant end. Now that PLI will not meet with design tames to provide that initial insight, it places a potential financial burden on project teams and clients…
  24. 24. Question: • If the PLI plan reviewer interprets the code differently after all the detailing is done, then the design team or the client may be responsible for significant redesign costs. Therefore, will PLI put into place a method/process for design teams to get early insight to assist them in moving toward compliance?
  25. 25. Question: • Why is there no feedback on code questions until we submit the entire project and wait for 6 weeks?
  26. 26. http://pittsburghpa.gov/pli/ http://pittsburghpa.gov/dcp/zoning/major-development
  27. 27. http://pittsburghpa.gov/pli/
  28. 28. http://pittsburghpa.gov/pli/
  29. 29. http://pittsburghpa.gov/pli/
  30. 30. Question: • Why are 3rd party reviews for architectural portions not permitted as a compliance path?
  31. 31. Question: • Can you clarify for us what inspectors work directly for the City and which Inspectors are aThird Party?...
  32. 32. Question: • Will there be a process that allows for the General Contractor to call for all of the Inspections to expedite the process? As opposed to the Electrical having to call for Electrical Inspection, the HVAC sub calling for the HVAC inspection, etc.

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