Among the many other matters keeping public officials busy during the spring and summer months, each Pennsylvania municipality will also have to add whether or not to enforce the Uniform Construction Code (UCC) to the to-do list.
The Pennsylvania UCC Administration and Enforcement Regulations were formally published January 10, 2004, and therefore, the opt-in, opt-out timeline has begun. All municipalities must notify the Department of Labor and Industry of their decision between April 9 and July 8. Note that any municipality that does not submit notification by August 7 will automatically have opted out of enforcement.
So how does this affect your municipal Code?
Each municipality will now have to follow International Code Council (ICC) provisions (with some exceptions designated for certain buildings). However, the International Private Sewage Disposal Code, International Property Maintenance Code and International Zoning Code have not been adopted.
We encourage municipalities to examine their municipal Code books to reevaluate the various construction and building regulations adopted over the years. Although enforcement of the UCC is the municipality’s decision, the state has mandated that these new regulations exist as the state-wide guidelines. Unless the municipality’s provisions were in an ordinance enacted prior to July 1, 1999, and said provisions meet or exceed UCC standards, they are superseded and preempted by the new codes.
If your Code contains provisions that might be superseded by the UCC, we encourage you to remove such provisions from your municipal Code. Former regulations pertaining to building construction, mechanical standards, plumbing, fire prevention, etc., may no longer be enforceable in your municipality. Contact your Municipal Attorney to determine what regulations should be added or removed from your Code.
Some common chapters we see in Pennsylvania municipal Code books that may be affected include “Building Department,” “Building Construction,” “Building Permits,” “Unfit Buildings,” “Certificates of Occupancy,” “Electrical Standards,” “Fire Prevention,” “Fuel Oils,” “Licenses and Permits,” “Energy Conservation,” “Plumbing,” and “Mechanical Standards.” Of course, not every municipality has chapters pertaining to the above subjects, some municipalities have additional chapters that may be affected, and not every chapter will require modifications.
If opting in, municipalities should repeal or readopt existing building code ordinances and adopt a new ordinance pertaining to UCC administration and enforcement. If opting out, municipalities should repeal all existing building code ordinances.
Regardless of whether opting in or opting out, each municipality should forward UCC-related legislation to General Code so that your Code books can be updated accordingly. For municipal officials and residents alike, an up-to-date Code book will help ease the commonwealth through this transition period.
General Code can provide to our clients a sample ordinance for those municipalities opting in to enforcement and administration. Simply e-mail samples [at] generalcode [dot] com and we will send it right out to you.
For more information about Pennsylvania's updated Uniform Construction Code, visit the following sites:
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