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  • Withdrawn:         12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    • the majority of those were withdrawn because of approval of another code proposal described below under the VEBC – we call that a “teaser!”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!