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Guidance from PABCO - Updated 4/6

06 Apr 2020 5:14 PM | Rick Cochran (Administrator)

This is guidance from PABCO to their membership regarding the statewide shutdown of construction. PABCO, the Pennsylvania Association of Building Code Officials, is a statewide organization representing Building Code Officials and their member companies.  Below is an updated Q & A from PABCO as of April 6, 2020. They are sending out to their membership in an attempt to provide uniformity across the Commonwealth.

Question: No new construction is to begin under the Governor’s order except for health care facilities.  Even waivers for residential construction that were originally granted have been tightened down to prohibit any new construction from taking place and projects already under way are restricted to emergency repairs, making the project weathertight and stabilizing and securing the worksite.

In light of all these restrictions, and with the Department of Labor and Industry suspending the time frames for approving or denying a permit application, may we (municipal or third party) continue to accept new permit applications?

Answer: There appears to be nothing in place that would prohibit this from taking place.

Question: Would we be allowed to review the applications, plans, specs, documents for UCC compliance?

Answer: Again, there appears to be nothing in place that would prohibit this from taking place, keeping in mind that the usual 5/15/30 day decision timeframe for application review is suspended

Question: Would we be allowed to send the applicant a plan review/plan correction letter in order to keep the project moving along towards approval?

Answer Again, there appears to be nothing in place that would prohibit this from taking place, keeping in mind that the usual 5/15/30 day decision timeframe for application review is suspended

Question: Once the application and plans are ready for approval, can we approve them and notify the applicant of approval?

Answer Again, there appears to be nothing in place that would prohibit this from taking place.  However, it is recommended that the permit NOT BE ISSUED as that gives the permit holder the right to begin construction.  It is recommended that the applicant could be informed that their application and plans have been approved, but that no permit will be issued and no construction may take place until the eventual lifting of the construction ban imposed by the Governor.

QuestionA contractor is performing construction that is not emergency in nature and is not part of a health care facility.  They request an inspection for work that had already begun prior to the Governor’s order or they had one of the original waivers that have since been overturned.  Am I required/allowed to perform the inspection?

Answer: Based on the Governor’s order, the inspection should not be done.  However, if it is performed, all CDC guidance for social distancing and PPE should be adhered to.

QuestionWork is being performed that is non-emergency In nature and not connected to a health care facility. I choose not to perform a requested inspection.  Am I obligated to inform anyone of the work being done in defiance of the Governor’s order?

Answer: You are not required to do so, but you may if you choose.  That would involve submitting a report to the State Police Barracks with jurisdiction over the site in question.

However, if construction is taking place without a permit, you may issue as STOP WORK ORDER and follow that through to the proper conclusion.

If work is taking place and is beyond the point where a required inspection would have been needed, and you have chosen to not perform the inspection, you may also issue a STOP WORK ORDER and follow that through to the proper conclusion.

Question: A school district decides that a project is of an emergency or urgent nature and decides to move ahead with construction, as allowed by the Governor’s order.  Am I obligated to perform inspections?

Answer Yes, based on the Governor’s order.

QuestionWork is being performed that is emergency in nature or connected to a health care facility.  Am I obligated to perform the inspection?

Answer: Based on the Governor’s order and BOIS guidance, Yes.

QuestionHomeowners apply for a permit to begin work connected with their dwelling.  Am I required to approve it and issue it?

Answer: Based on the Governor’s order and BOIS guidance, no.

QuestionHomeowners are performing work on their own dwelling and need an inspection.  Am I required to perform it?

Answer: Based on the Governor’s order and BOIS guidance, No, unless it is of an emergency repair nature.

Question Emergency repairs must be performed on a commercial or residential structure or equipment or building systems contained therein.  May I issue a permit?

Answer: If the work would normally require a permit, then yes, a permit should be required but it may be issued after the fact. Remember, even under normal circumstances, the UCC allows emergency repairs or replacement of equipment to take place and then for the permit to be applied for within 3 business days of the work being performed.

Some links for helpful resources:

Building safety measures (just issued today)

https://www.governor.pa.gov/newsroom/gov-wolf-health-sec-signs-order-providing-building-safety-measures-to-combat-covid-19/  

BOIS/UCC FAQs (click on Buildings)

https://www.dli.pa.gov/Individuals/Labor-Management-Relations/bois/BOISFAQs/Pages/default.aspx  

 



Building today for a better tomorrow.

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