2005 AIA Stock Images - Core - Cunningham & Quill - Hickok Warner Cole - HSMM - OTJ ArchitectsThe seeming interminable review of the latest building code is nearing completion, which means the public hearing portion of the 12- to 18-month process is nigh.

The review schedule published by the Department of Housing and Community Development in January lists July 1 as the final date for code change submissions.  The first public hearing will be Sept. 23 this year and September of 2014 as the effective date of the 2012 code.

From the beginning — with the publishing of the 2012 family of codes by the International Code Council in the spring of 2012 — to the final implementation in Virginia, the model codes have been turned inside out and upside down by volunteers from many organizations including the Virginia Building and Code Officials Association and the Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects.

Once again, as he has since October 2000, Kenney Payne, AIA, led the reviews of the building code for the VSAIA.  And for several years in a row, James Snowa, AIA, and Megan Shope, AIA, provided the expertise to guide the evolution of the residential code for the VSAIA and the public.

The in-house reviews were an innovation by the late Jack Proctor, Hon. VSAIA.  He sought the advice and expertise from architects, home builders, building owners and managers, product manufacturers, and other interested groups to make the review process as thorough as possible.  This open, deliberative process was continued by Emory Rodgers, who succeeded Proctor as director of the division of building regulation at DHCD.

The next steps in the code’s adoption will be publication in the Virginia Register this summer with the public hearing in the fall.  Final regulations will be approved by the Board of DHCD in late 2013 or early 2014 prior to being sent to the capitol for administrative approval.

Final regulations are scheduled to be published in the July 2014 Virginia Register with September 2014 expected to be the codes’ effective date.  In the past, local building officials have allowed a grace period for projects under way prior to the latest code implementation.  Architects should confer with local officials to determine whether a project’s design under a current code is far enough along to be reviewed under the older rather than the newest code.

By the same token, architects also should confer with local building officials if they wish to design under an as-yet-unapproved code.  If the approval process is in its final stages, designing to the newer standards could be beneficial.


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