2018 USBC Code Cycle Update

Every three years, Virginia goes through a code change cycle and this latest round saw a flurry of code proposals – over 320 total.  AIA Virginia was an active participant whether it was due to their own submitted code proposals or supporting or opposing other proposals.  If we were judged by our batting average, AIA VA came away with a fairly decent one (.981)!  AIA Virginia submitted 65 proposals for the upcoming 2018 USBC and the Board of Housing and Community Development (BHCD) has taken the following action:

  • Approved:           52
  • Disapproved:      1
    • it was supported by the VBCOA representative at least
  • Withdrawn:         12
    • prior to going to the BHCD
    • the majority of those were withdrawn because of approval of another code proposal described below under the VEBC – we call that a “teaser!”

52 and 1 – most people would take that record!  Below are some of the highlighted proposals that were approved, and you should see in the 2018 USBC:

Virginia Construction Code:

  • 101.5: References to the International Codes and standards now include state amendments.
  • 101.6: Provisions of the “other” codes (e.g., IMC, IPC, and NEC) now supersede any provisions of the Energy Conservation Code that address the same subject matter and impose differing requirements.
  • 1103.2.8: Deleted “exclusively” and substituted “primarily.”  This should allow for greater flexibility in use of such areas for other purposes.
  • 1109.2 and 1209.3: Multi-user gender-neutral toilet facilities have now been added to provide guidance as to the plumbing fixture ratios, compartments, and separation.
  • 2902: The entire section has been deleted with a pointer to 403 of the VPC.  This will avoid duplication and possible conflicts.
  • [The proposal that was rejected]: Attempted to delete provisions that included “where approved by the building official” as such provisions are void and unenforceable per Chapter 1 of the VCC.  The BHCD approved such deletions in the VEBC, so we are not sure why they did not approve the same for the VCC. We will try again next code cycle.

Virginia Energy Conservation Code:

  • C404.5 was deleted in its entirety as it conflicted with the VPC and created hardship in attempting compliance with the VECC.  This was one of the reasons for the code change above involving conflicts between the VECC and other codes.
  • Chapter 5 [CE] and 5 [RE] were deleted and pointers provided to go to the VEBC

Virginia Existing Building Code:

  • 102.2.3: Added clarity as to what is considered a separate building and when an existing building is separated from the new “addition” by a fire wall, any nonconformance is based on when the original building was constructed and not per the “current” code. 
    • A “Note” was added to 801.1 that indicates when a fire wall is used, and therefore, you technically do not have an addition, then Chapter 8 would not apply – thus, code officials can no longer compel you to comply with the provisions in Chapter 8, including height and area limitations in Chapter 5 of the VCC.
  • 307: Reroofing and roof repair was relocated to Section 602 and Level 1 alterations.
  • 402: Triggers for accessibility have been removed for a change of occupancy and would only be required if associated with alterations.  This is consistent now with the 2010 ADA Standards.
  • 404.3: Language now more closely matches that of the 2010 ADA Standards.
  • 510 [new]: Some energy provisions were brought over from the VECC offering some flexibility in compliance.
  • 601.2.1: Expanded the description of Level 1 alterations to include “removal without replacement” of various materials and elements.
  • 601.4: In collaboration with and support of various energy groups, the energy conservation requirements were expanded, including:
    • Opaque walls
    • Floors
    • Ceilings and vented attics
    • Fenestration
    • Roof replacement
    • Lighting
    • Ducts
  • 704: Provided clarity.
  • 802.2: Provided clarity as to what qualifies as an exception.
  • 805 [new]: Some energy provisions were brought over from the VECC offering some flexibility in compliance.
  • 904 was deleted in its entirety, with applicable portions relocated to Section 906.  This should allow for greater opportunities to alter a historic building without triggering such fire safety requirement sunless it also underwent a change of occupancy.
  • Chapter 14: Has been completely reformatted.  Duplicated provisions have been deleted (how many different ways can you say “evaluation”?).  There will now be four sections in lieu of one (General, Evaluation Process, Evaluation Data, and Evaluation Scores).
  • 1401.6.3 (current number): Clarifies that interpolation is permitted.
  • Are you sitting down for this one?!?!  There has been another major overhaul of the VEBC, specifically as it relates to alterations as follows:
    • Work area: GONE!  No more work areas – no more arguments on what is or is not a work area!
    • Level 2 alterations: Was about 12 pages long – now will be approximately 3 pages long.  Since most of Level 2 and 3 alterations were based strictly on the concept of a work area, with no more work area, a lot of provisions are not needed anymore.
    • Supplemental requirements: What supplemental requirements?
    • Level 3 alterations: Gone the way of the Dodo.
    • Relevant provisions were relocated to the Change of Occupancy chapter.
    • Why you may ask?  You were just getting use to work areas.  Well, there was this thing called “The Virginia Way” before the IEBC came along and it basically said, “if you don’t touch it, you don’t have to do anything.”  But that all changed when the IEBC came along – with its work areas, supplemental requirements, and Level 3 alterations that required alterations even beyond where you were doing work.  So, we are trying to go back to the way it was – touch it, do something – don’t touch it, you don’t have to do anything.
    • Enjoy!
  • We successfully defeated a proposal that would have expanded the definition of a “change of occupancy” to include “electrical” as one of the “greater degrees.”  This could have led to unintended consequences and slippery slopes.  We will work with the proponent during the next code cycle to see if we can come up with a compromise solution.

Virginia Plumbing Code:

  • Table 403.1: Airport terminals now have their own row and minimum plumbing fixture ratios. Locations have also been clarified.
  • 403 and 405: Multi-user gender-neutral toilet facilities have now been added to provide guidance as to the plumbing fixture ratios, compartments, and separation.

Virginia Residential Code:

  • R408: We supported revisions to the “under-floor space” provisions that reformat and clarify the provisions within this section.

AIA Virginia was also represented on the following sub-workgroups, from which a number of code changes were also submitted:

  • Fire Code edits: eliminated al construction-related provisions.
  • Resiliency: BHCD approved eight proposals.
  • Residential Uses: We now have an “Accessory Dwelling Unit” definition and provisions; and BHCD approved three other proposals, including adding “Tiny Houses” in an Appendix.
  • School safety: Emergency Supplemental Hardware (you may know it better as “door barricades”) is now permitted in K-12 and higher education occupancies.
  • Energy: BHCD approved four proposals that came out of this sub-workgroup, including making blower door tests mandatory for single- and multi-family homes and increasing ceiling insulation.

While AIA Virginia remained “neutral” or took “no position” on most of the proposals, some of the more significant approved proposals include:

  • “Tall Wood Buildings (TWB)” construction is now allowed as an alternative.
  • VRC R313.1: Townhomes must now be sprinkled in accordance with P2904, NFPA 13D 13, or 13R.
  • VRC E3902.16: Arc-fault circuit-interrupter protection is now required in additional spaces, including kitchens, family rooms, dining rooms, living rooms, parlors, libraries, dens, sunrooms, rec rooms, closets, hallways, and laundry rooms – in addition to the bedrooms.  That just about covers it!
  • Kitchen exhaust systems requirements in the VECC C403.2.8 were deleted in its entirety and the provisions of the VMC will apply (another example of where the VECC conflicted with the VMC).
  • VECC 402.1.4.2 [new section]: Expanded requirements for roof and ceiling insulation.
  • VRC R301.2.1: Wind design criteria, tables, and maps have been updated to comply with ASCE 7-16.
  • VPC 608.15 and VRC P2902.6: Revised requirements for backflow preventers.
  • VMC Table 403.3.1.1: Minimum ventilation rates have been added for “medical procedure rooms,” “patient rooms,” and “physical therapy rooms.”
  • VPC 202: A new definition has been added for “service sink.”
  • VPC 1303.1 and VRC P2912.1: CSA B805/ICC 805 Standard has been added as an alternate compliance path for rainwater to be used in nonpotable applications.
  • VCC and VPC – single-user toilet facility and bathing room fixtures: Clarifications and additional exceptions have been added.
  • NFPA 2020 Article 555: Electrical shock protections have been added for marina docks.

Anyone can access all of the proposed code changes on cdpVA.  If you do not have one already, you will need to set up a free account.

So, what do you think?  Love ‘em?  Hate ‘em?  What were they thinking?

Anyone can submit a code change, so if there is something that you would like to see changed in any of the codes, go to cdpVA and submit away (actually, it is too late for this code cycle, but when the next cycle begins . . .).  Or, you can contact AIA Virginia’s current representative, Kenney Payne at kpayne@moseleyarchitects.com, and he can help you with your proposal or submit one for you.

So, until we start this process all over again – “2021 anyone?!” – be SOS – safe, operational, and sane!

2018 Virginia Code Update Cycle

The Proposed (Regulations) Phase of the 2018 Virginia Code Update Cycle kicked off in March of 2019 with the publishing of the Notices of Intended Regulatory Action (NOIRA) for the building and fire regulations.  This action officially notified the public that changes to the regulations were being proposed.  Publishing of the NOIRA’s also initiated a 30-day public comment period, during which, public comments were received through the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall and code change proposals to amend Virginia’s building and fire regulations and comments on those proposals were submitted through DHCD’s online code development system, cdpVA. 

As with previous code change cycles, stakeholder workgroups were utilized during the Proposed Phase to vet each code change proposal and determine a workgroup recommendation for each proposal, to the Board of Housing and Community Development, of consensus or non-consensus.  Several proposals, topics and initiatives also went through smaller sub-workgroups of interested stakeholders, prior to being discussed by the full workgroups, to determine a sub-workgroup recommendation.  These sub-workgroups included Residential Dock Electrical Safety, Energy, Resiliency, Residential Uses and School Safety.  A total of twenty-one workgroup and sub-workgroup meetings were held during the Proposed Phase.

In September 2019, after the conclusion of the Proposed Phase workgroup meetings, 108 code change proposals were approved by the Board of Housing and Community Development’s Codes and Standards Committee for inclusion in the 2018 proposed building and fire regulations.  In December 2019, the Board of Housing and Community Development approved the proposed regulations.  The regulations were published in the Virginia Register of Regulations on February 3, 2020, initiating the Final (Regulations) Phase and a 60-day public comment period in the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall that ends on April 6, 2020.

The Final Phase, which is currently underway, provides an additional opportunity for amendments to the proposed regulations and consideration of proposals carried over from or not completed during the Proposed Phase.

Workgroups and sub-workgroups will meet again during the Final Phase to review and make recommendations on any carried over code change proposals or new proposals submitted in cdpVA before April 3, 2020.  The Board of Housing and Community Development’s Codes and Standards Committee will meet in June to consider all proposals for inclusion in the final regulations and the Board will meet in September to review and approve the 2018 final building and fire regulations.  Once approved, the final regulations will be published in the Virginia Register of Regulations with an anticipated effective date of early 2021. 

Link to Virginia Regulatory Town Hall https://townhall.virginia.gov/L/ViewBoard.cfm?BoardID=61

Link to cdpVA https://va.cdpaccess.com/login/

Link to the Virginia Register of Regulations http://register.dls.virginia.gov/vol36/iss12/v36i12.pdf

Virginia Code Changes Scheduled for September

by Kenney Payne, AIA

Every three years or so, Virginia goes through a new code change cycle – and the time is nigh when the 2015 USBC edition will go into effect – currently scheduled for Sept. 4, 2018.  AIA Virginia was instrumental in shepherding a number of proposed code changes that we authored or supported – that were approved – and a number of proposed changes that we did not support – that were disapproved.

Below is a summary of the more significant code changes that AIA Virginia submitted and were approved

Virginia Construction Code (VCC) which utilizes the International Building Code (IBC) as its model:

  • Streamlined provisions related to existing buildings:  One section replaces five sections and ALL existing buildings and structures shall start in the VEBC, including R-5 (but the option to use the IBC/IRC remains).
  • Small buildings and spaces are now “permitted” to be classified as the main occupancy rather than be required to classify them as a ‘B’: This may help with avoiding mixed occupancies and/or reduce the amount of required plumbing fixtures.
  • There’s a new option for addressing higher education laboratories: If you wanted to avoid an ‘H’ occupancy, you were required to utilize “control areas.”  However, they were very limiting (especially for higher stories).  Now, there is an option to use “lab suites” to achieve a greater number of labs as well as greater quantities on higher stories.
  • Roof-supporting structural penetrations are now allowed into stairway and exit passageway enclosures if they meet certain criteria (no more than 2-stories, fully sprinkled, other than Group H).
  • Moved all reroofing and roof repairs to the VEBC.
  • All one-story buildings are exempt from the NFPA 285 test requirements if the exterior wall covering is noncombustible.

Virginia Existing Building Code (VEBC) which utilizes the International Existing Building Code (IEBC) as its model:

  • The entire VEBC was reformatted to accomplish a code that hopefully will be easier to: understand, apply, interpret, review, and enforce.  The major changes include:
    1. Deleted the “compliance methods.”
    2. Simplified the “work area” definition by deleting the term “reconfigured spaces” and essentially involves walls – removing, moving, or adding – walls would be a work area.  We also expanded what is not included in a work area.
    3. Consolidated a lot of provisions.  Did you know “accessibility” was in eight chapters and sixteen sections?  It is now in one chapter (new Chapter 4) and four sections.
    4. We simplified the old Chapter 10 – Change of Occupancy (is now Chapter 7) and allows an alternative to compliance with Chapter 7 – which was the old “Performance Compliance Method.”
    5. Deleted unenforceable provisions throughout, including those involving: IFC, unsafe or dangerous conditions, and “subject to the approval of the code official.”
    6. As a result, we deleted three chapters (14 in lieu of 17).
    7. Any reference to the iCodes in the VEBC mean the iCodes with the Virginia amendments.
    8. All classifications of work must now be identified on the construction documents (not just the work area) – there is an exception.
    9. Revised the definition of “Change of occupancy” and “existing building.”
    10. Consolidated the following into Chapter 3 – which applies to all work (rather than having multiple locations for the same provision): building materials and elements, fire escapes, seismic forces, glass replacement, and new provisions for higher education labs and reroofing.
    11. All “repair” requirements were consolidated into one chapter (in lieu of three).
    12. All “alteration” requirements were consolidated into one chapter(in lieu of five).  We still have three levels, but rather than each being there own chapter, they are now each their own section.
    13. An exception was added to the IECC requirements allowing “like” materials and thicknesses when replacing existing materials in the building’s exterior building envelope (e.g., walls and roofs).
    14. Group R-5 was added to the hazard category tables in the Change of Occupancy chapter.
    15. All “addition” requirements were consolidated into one chapter (in lieu of three).
    16. All “historic building” requirements were consolidated into one chapter (in lieu of three).
    17. All “moved building” requirements were consolidated into one chapter (in lieu of three).
  • Remember the VEBC mantras – “incentivize, don’t penalize” and “it is as safe or safer today than it was yesterday.”

Learn more about the entire 2015 VEBC and the 2015 VEBC significant changes at Architecture Exchange East this Nov. 7-9.

Virginia Code Changes Scheduled for September

by Kenney Payne, AIA

Every three years or so, Virginia goes through a new code change cycle – and the time is nigh when the 2015 USBC edition will go into effect – currently scheduled for Sept. 4, 2018.  AIA Virginia was instrumental in shepherding a number of proposed code changes that we authored or supported – that were approved – and a number of proposed changes that we did not support – that were disapproved.

Below is a summary of the more significant code changes that AIA Virginia submitted and were approved

Virginia Construction Code (VCC) which utilizes the International Building Code (IBC) as its model:

  • Streamlined provisions related to existing buildings:  One section replaces five sections and ALL existing buildings and structures shall start in the VEBC, including R-5 (but the option to use the IBC/IRC remains).
  • Small buildings and spaces are now “permitted” to be classified as the main occupancy rather than be required to classify them as a ‘B’: This may help with avoiding mixed occupancies and/or reduce the amount of required plumbing fixtures.
  • There’s a new option for addressing higher education laboratories: If you wanted to avoid an ‘H’ occupancy, you were required to utilize “control areas.”  However, they were very limiting (especially for higher stories).  Now, there is an option to use “lab suites” to achieve a greater number of labs as well as greater quantities on higher stories.
  • Roof-supporting structural penetrations are now allowed into stairway and exit passageway enclosures if they meet certain criteria (no more than 2-stories, fully sprinkled, other than Group H).
  • Moved all reroofing and roof repairs to the VEBC.
  • All one-story buildings are exempt from the NFPA 285 test requirements if the exterior wall covering is noncombustible.

Virginia Existing Building Code (VEBC) which utilizes the International Existing Building Code (IEBC) as its model:

  • The entire VEBC was reformatted to accomplish a code that hopefully will be easier to: understand, apply, interpret, review, and enforce.  The major changes include:
    1. Deleted the “compliance methods.”
    2. Simplified the “work area” definition by deleting the term “reconfigured spaces” and essentially involves walls – removing, moving, or adding – walls would be a work area.  We also expanded what is not included in a work area.
    3. Consolidated a lot of provisions.  Did you know “accessibility” was in eight chapters and sixteen sections?  It is now in one chapter (new Chapter 4) and four sections.
    4. We simplified the old Chapter 10 – Change of Occupancy (is now Chapter 7) and allows an alternative to compliance with Chapter 7 – which was the old “Performance Compliance Method.”
    5. Deleted unenforceable provisions throughout, including those involving: IFC, unsafe or dangerous conditions, and “subject to the approval of the code official.”
    6. As a result, we deleted three chapters (14 in lieu of 17).
    7. Any reference to the iCodes in the VEBC mean the iCodes with the Virginia amendments.
    8. All classifications of work must now be identified on the construction documents (not just the work area) – there is an exception.
    9. Revised the definition of “Change of occupancy” and “existing building.”
    10. Consolidated the following into Chapter 3 – which applies to all work (rather than having multiple locations for the same provision): building materials and elements, fire escapes, seismic forces, glass replacement, and new provisions for higher education labs and reroofing.
    11. All “repair” requirements were consolidated into one chapter (in lieu of three).
    12. All “alteration” requirements were consolidated into one chapter(in lieu of five).  We still have three levels, but rather than each being there own chapter, they are now each their own section.
    13. An exception was added to the IECC requirements allowing “like” materials and thicknesses when replacing existing materials in the building’s exterior building envelope (e.g., walls and roofs).
    14. Group R-5 was added to the hazard category tables in the Change of Occupancy chapter.
    15. All “addition” requirements were consolidated into one chapter (in lieu of three).
    16. All “historic building” requirements were consolidated into one chapter (in lieu of three).
    17. All “moved building” requirements were consolidated into one chapter (in lieu of three).
  • Remember the VEBC mantras – “incentivize, don’t penalize” and “it is as safe or safer today than it was yesterday.”

Learn more about the entire 2015 VEBC and the 2015 VEBC significant changes at Architecture Exchange East this Nov. 7-9.

Open Door Policy

What is the allowable opening force for egress doors?

That’s a question that Bureau of Capital Outlay Management (BCOM) reviewers are frequently asked — and an important issue as egress doors can sometimes be too heavy for persons with disabilities or limited strength to open. The current building code, the 2012 Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code, and the current design standard for accessibility, the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design published September 15, 2010, address the door opening force requirements.

The force for pushing or pulling open interior swinging egress doors, other than fire doors, shall not exceed 5 pounds. The operating force is permitted to be higher for exterior doors and fire doors. Exterior doors are exempt from the 5-pound requirement because air pressure differentials and strong winds may prevent doors from automatically closing. Fire doors are exempt from the 5-pound requirement because fire doors are required to close and latch shut. For these doors, a maximum of 15 pounds is required to release the latch, 30 pounds to set the door in motion, and 15 pounds to swing the door to the full-open position. See Virginia Construction Code, Section 1008.1.3.

This short YouTube video clip illustrates an opening force pressure test.

Reprinted with permission from Department of General Service, Bureau of Capital Outlay Management. To subscribe to the BCOM Newsletter, simply complete this online form.

Volunteers Needed for Code Webinar Testing

We are excited to announce a pilot webinar which will expand our partnership with the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development and make it easier for you to stay up-to-date on Virginia Building Codes.

The first pilot webinar, Virginia Statewide Building Code: Significant Changes, will be presented on October 14. To participate in this webinar, please contact Marshall Dreiling. The pilot webinar is free, but space is limited.

2015 ICC Code Seminar Schedule

to register for any of these events click here

2012 IBC Update — Friday, Feb. 27, 2015, Richmond, Va.

2012 IBC Significant Changes — Friday, Mar. 27, 2015, Fairfax, Va.

2012 IBC Update — Friday, Apr. 24, 2015, Roanoke, Va.

2012 IBC Update — Friday, May 29, 2015, Virginia Beach, Va.

2012 IBC Update — Friday, June 26, 2015, Charlottesville, Va.

2012 IgCC Fundamentals — Friday, July 24, 2015, Fairfax, Va.

2012 IBC Update — Friday, Sept. 25, 2015, Virginia Beach, Va.

2012 IBC Significant Changes — Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015, Richmond, Va. (at Architecture Exchange East)

All dates tentative and subject to change.

Code Cadre Wins 22-7

Sorg AIA 2003407The review of the 2012 International Code Council’s family of codes has been completed.  The public hearing and administrative adjustments are all that remain between now and the anticipated implementation this fall.  Below is a summary of the proposals presented by the VSAIA Code Cadre, once again led by Kenney Payne, AIA, and supported by Jim Snowa, AIA, and Megan Shope, AIA.

VSAIA submitted:

Approved (17):

Accessory occupancies are no longer limited by their tabular height value in Table 503

  • Accessory areas may now be located on upper floors, if allowed for the main occupancy
  • Previously, the height was restricted  (e.g., I-3 could not be located on 3rd floor or higher under Type 2B construction)

CO sensors will utilize the 2012 IBC language (deleted the language used in the 2009 USBC)

Combustible decorative material exceptions clarified and added[adrotate banner=”52″]

  • Technically, the code did not allow any decorative combustible materials to be hung from above – it had to be applied to walls
  • An exception was added that now allows such to be suspended from the ceiling

Evacuation plans (under the 2012 IBC) would have become part of the building code

  • This requirement was deleted from the IBC and remains in the SFPC

Existing structural elements carrying gravity loads can now comply with IEBC

  • Under the 2009 USBC/IBC, if there were any changes to the gravity loading, it could be interpreted that the entire existing building would have to conform with the IBC
  • This code change clarifies that such loading would have to increase by more than 5% before affecting the existing building

Clarified that showers required on the pool deck were to be accessible hand-held spray types, and not transfer or roll-in types (as part of the ISPSC – refer below)

Lavatories are now allowed to be located within the classroom, if it meets certain criteria

  • Before, a lavatory had to be located in the toilet room, even if the adjacent classroom had a lavatory
  • This exception now allows you to omit the lav in the toilet room and use the one in the classroom

You no longer have to provide a Type I or II hood over electric domestic cooking appliances if they are used for domestic purposes – you can just provide a domestic-type hood

  • Previously, some jurisdictions were requiring Type I or II hoods over a residential cooktop simply because it was located in a “commercial” building
  • The owner must still demonstrate that the cooking appliances will be used for domestic purposes
  • A church cannot say it is for domestic purposes if they intend to hold congregation functions where they feed 300 people every weekend or so

Fire-resistance assembly markings (the ratings that get painted on rated walls above the ceiling)

  • Clarified locations and deleted outdated terminology

Order of precedence

  • Reformatted so it would be easier to follow (use to be a run-on paragraph)
  •  Deleted the term “conflicting” and clarified these would apply when you have “differing requirements”

Tenable environment and windowless buildings

  • Provided a definition for “tenable environment”
  • Rewrote the “windowless buildings” in its entirety and tied it to smoke control, which was its original intent
    * Should be easier to design I-3 spaces
    * Identifies those spaces requiring such smoke control
    – This prevents building officials from requiring smoke control in an office or a corridor simply because they are located in an I-3 facility

Short-term holding areas

  • We created a new definition for “short-term holding areas” and added a new Section to avoid confusion with I-3 occupancies
  • This includes those small lock-ups located between courtrooms, or in an airport, stadium, police station, shopping malls, etc.
  • Currently, if defined as I-3, it would kick in all of the other I-3 requirements
  • This code change does include some I-3 requirements, but should allow for greater flexibility in your designs

Delayed egress locks

  • Clarified the intent by adding an exception (currently, there is an exception within the charging paragraph which makes interpretation difficult)

Air barriers

  • Air barriers will be a requirement for the building envelope; however, it was included in the IECC and ASHRAE 90.1
  • Our code change placed a “bookmark” in the IBC so architects do not miss something so critical because it was not located in the building code

Water-resistive barriers

  • Deleted in its entirety
  • If left in, all exterior wall assemblies (meeting the criteria) would have had to be tested per NFPA 285

Metal composite materials and NFPA 285

  • Added a sprinkler exception (no NFPA 285 or full-scale testing required if your building is fully sprinkled)
  • Also clarified additional NFPA 285 testing is not required for additional wall assemblies if the other changes are in non-combustible materials or combustible materials already allowed by the building code

Exterior wall assemblies and NFPA 285

  • Added a sprinkler exception (no NFPA 285 or full-scale testing required if your building is fully sprinkled)
  • Also clarified additional NFPA 285 testing is not required for additional wall assemblies if the other changes are in non-combustible materials or combustible materials already allowed by the building code

Denied (6):

Switch from Chapter 11 and ICC A117.1 to ADAAG 2004 as the accessibility requirements

  • Building officials would not support
  • Note the referenced regulation was 2004 ADAAG – not 2010 ADA Standards which includes other documents, nor was it requiring compliance with the ADA, which is a civil law
  • We are not attorneys and cannot ensure our design meet ADA – we can design to meet ADAAG

The hope was that architects would only have to design to one standard – 2004 ADAAG – not three (Chapter 11 of the IBC, A117.1, and 2004 ADAAG)

Penetrations into interior stairways

  • Tried to add exception allowing primary and secondary structural members
  • Currently, it can be (and has been) interpreted that no structure (beam, joist, deck) can penetrate an interior stairway

Required a preliminary meeting to discuss need for fire apparatus access road requirements with fire official during design (similar to what is required for using the IEBC)

  • Fire officials were against
  • Currently, they do not have to comment on the requirements, or even the need for such a road, until you submit for a building permit – by then it is too late
  • We were trying to codify a meeting  -during design – so we have the ability to make changes without incurring potential delays and/or change orders

In-building emergency communications coverage

  • Tried to clarify some requirements (e.g., limit it to just empty conduit), add exceptions, add design and technical criteria (so we know what to design), add a preliminary meeting (so we know what the jurisdiction is going to need)
  • Unless you meet the exceptions, our design must include radiating cable
  • Oftentimes, coverage requirements are determined after completion of the facility – it is then too late to effect changes without incurring change orders – to which owners typically turn to the A/E to collect

Portable toilets

  • Tried to allow porta-potties to be used for larger outdoor sporting events for ‘E’ uses only – to avoid providing hundreds (exaggeration) of toilets that might be used 6 times a year

NFPA 45 as an option to control areas

  • Control areas limit the number of labs on upper floors – due to the limitations on the quantities allowed as buildings increase in height
  • At the request of the fire officials and a number of universities, the VSAIA submitted a code change that used NFPA 45 as the template to develop a code change that would allow an alternative to control areas
  • This alternative would allow greater quantities on upper floors as well as reduced fire ratings
  • It should offer greater flexibility for al buildings with labs – including schools
  • We first submitted as a separate code section – when that did not pass, we resubmitted as an appendix
  • That did not work either
  • However, it got a lot of discussion by the Codes and Standards Committee and Board of Housing and Community Development
  • Many saw the benefit, but were not ready to jump in with both feet – and the fact that it was introduced late and did not go through the two-year vetting process hurt our chances
  • It will be part of the agenda for the 2015 code cycle

VSAIA supported:

Approved (3): There were many – we have outlined a few here

International Swimming Pool and Spa Code (ISPSC)

  • Swimming pools and spas are now regulated by the ISPSC rather than referenced standards, appendices, state amendment, or other document
  • This should make it easier to design and for building officials to enforce

Delete Chapter 34 and substitute IEBC

  • The ICC is going to delete Chapter 34 in the 2015 model code, so we went ahead and did it now

Increased the width of some doors in a residence to allow for 32” clear (increased accessibility)

  • The National Homebuilders Association was also supportive of this code change

Denied (1):

Increased accessible parking at medical facilities

  • Added types of facilities to the “list” that currently require more parking spaces (which is also required by ADAAG), as well as, two exceptions (those operating out of their home and tenant-type office buildings where you did not know who would be in it)

VSAIA opposed:  There were many – we have outlined a few here.

Denied (2): VSAIA wanted them to be denied

Restriping of existing parking lots

  • We were original co-sponsors (along with accessibility advocacy groups); however, the VBCOA (building officials) started adding a number of exceptions and language which we believed could conflict with the ADA and ADAAG – so we withdrew our support and worked against its approval
  • We did not believe Virginia architects should be required to design something that meets the building code, but may not meet the civil law (ADA)
  • Exceeding ADAAG requirements are one thing, but conflicting requirements are something else
  • The accessibility advocacy groups also withdrew their support when we withdrew our support for the same reasons

International Wildland-Urban Interface Code (IWUIC)

  • Fire officials wanted to include this without any vetting
  • We opposed because there was no vetting through the work groups

VSAIA submitted and then withdrew (3): We tried to “pick our battles” and did not push a difficult position unless we felt the code change was far-reaching (such as the accessibility code change proposal)

Tried to add an actual date (1973) to the definition of an “existing building”

  • Currently, it states, “built prior to the initial edition of the USBC.”
  • We wanted it to read, “built prior to the 1973  USBC.”  That way, you would not have to ask what year was the initial edition
  • Apparently, building officials could not understand there is only one “initial”

Tried to submit an exception where stairways that are not used as an exit or provide access to an exit do not need to comply with various means of egress stair requirements (e.g., interior exit stairways and exit access stairways)

  •  Building officials believe all stairways must comply – there is no such thing as a stairway that is not a part of the means of egress

Tried to get small storage rooms (100 SF or less) reclassified as “incidental uses”

  • Confusion has crept up with regards to small “closets” – are we supposed to classify them as an S-1 or S-2?
  • This could create unintended consequences (e.g., mixed uses, occupancy that cannot go on an upper floor)

All-in-all, I would say we had a very successful code change cycle (22 positive results and 7 negative results) and should:

  • Allow architects greater flexibility in their designs
  • Clarify the code to avoid misinterpretations or conflicting interpretations
  • Save our clients money (e.g., NFPA 285 testing which can run as high as $40,000 per test per assembly).

 

September 2013 Building Code Update

© 2006, The American Institute of Architects. All rights reserved.”
© 2006, The American Institute of Architects. All rights reserved.

If you thought the building code is continually changing, you would be right.  Every three years, the International Code Council publishes an updated family of model codes.  Every three years, Virginia spends about 18 months reviewing it.

The reviews and approval of the alterations, deletions, and additions are still under way.  The latest date for implementation of the new Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code still looks like the fall of 2014.  And then, traditionally, Virginia allows a one-year grace period for projects already in design to continue under the old code.

Prior to implementation, however, several hurdles still need to be cleared.  These include publication, public hearings, approvals by the Housing and Community Development Board, the attorney general, the secretary of commerce and trade, the governor’s office, the codes commission and then a final publication.

Anyone considering taking advantage of the grace period should confer with the local building official first.  By the same token, those who wish to incorporate portions the future code also should confer with the local building official for a variance.

The latest information can be found at the DHCD website:  http://www.dhcd.virginia.gov/index.php/va-building-codes/building-and-fire-codes/code-change-process.html.

Building Code App Under Consideration

Iphone_2Technological advances provide smart-phone applications for just about everything anyone can imagine, up to and including up-to-date code inspection results on construction projects.  Would it help you in your work?  If so, say so.  And while you are at it, mention other ideas that you have to make implementing or interpreting the building code easier.

The Department of Housing and Community Development begins in June its negotiations for the publishing of the 2012 Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code.  In addition to publishing the code, the International Code Council could provide such modern apps.  For what should DHCD negotiate?

Please send any ideas, input or recommendations to Cindy Davis at cindy.davis@dhcd.virginia.gov.

What tools would help you do your job?  Whether from compliance, design, or construction standpoint, today’s technology and tools are changing, and DHCD would like to be able to provide the products that will most benefit its client groups.

DHCD hopes to negotiate and provide some of these new services or products, or at least encourage their development. If you can imagine it, send it.  This can be as complex as mobile apps for inspections that include a checklist, video, photo or commentary of code requirements when you click on them from your tablet or smart phone. If it will benefit you and your jurisdiction, DHCD wants to know.