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Building codes address the minimum standards necessary for new construction, renovation, and repair of buildings. Topics may include but are not limited to, foundation, grading, structural support, ventilation, roofing, heating and air, electrical, plumbing and drainage.
Most building codes require a building permit to be obtained before new construction or a substantial renovation will be able to begin. Applying for a building permit is known as “pulling a permit”. Typically, only the owner of the real estate or a licensed general contractor can pull a permit. Before a permit is applied for, it is recommended to have the specialty professionals like MEP engineers review the building plans to ensure your plans have the best of being approved.
Realistically, getting a permit is only half the battle. A code enforcement inspector will ensure that the work complies with the building code by inspecting the work. If it doesn't, the inspector will indicate why the project doesn't meet the code, and the builder will have to remedy the issues to come within compliance.
Anytime you undergo an inspection on a commercial construction site, there’s the chance of being given a notice of violation of a specific commercial building code. The codes provide a baseline of regulations from which builders can use to construct safe structures. Left unfixed, this violation notice can turn into anything from a large fine to closure of the structure and construction delays.
Because of the negative effects from building code violations, you should address the issues in question as soon as possible. Fixing building code violations is a simple process, though, requiring little more than contacting the right repair people and finishing the repair process in time for the follow-up inspection. Approaching the problem in a timely and efficient manner is the key, but done correctly should have you up to code with time to spare.
What are building violations?
Building code violations are violations to be established building codes enforced by your local governing body. each City and the governing body has its own building codes. it is possible to be in violation in one city and not in another with the exact same building construction. it is imperative to include design professionals from the locale you are building in to ensure you follow the established building codes.
The purpose of building codes is to provide minimum standards for safety, health, and general welfare including structural integrity, mechanical integrity (including sanitation, water supply, light, and ventilation), means of egress, fire prevention and control, and energy conservation. Building codes generally include:
Building codes are generally separate from zoning ordinances, but exterior restrictions (such as setbacks) may fall into either category. Building codes are agreed upon internationally with additional restrictions on the base code in different locales.
In general, there are two separate categories to classify buildings and structures. Those are use and occupancy and type of construction. For use and occupancy, the International Building Code has ten main occupancy groups as well as multiple subgroups. The occupancy group or subgroup defines the specific use of the building. The subgroups in the building code are numbered based on the perceived risk for the building occupants and potential for major damage due to outside factors. For reference, the lower the subgroup number means the higher the perceived risk.
How do they happen?
Building code violations happen in a variety of ways. Generally, violations are not done intentionally but happen due to ignorance of the established building codes or a lack of adherence to the building codes. most often violations are found because they are reported. violations can be reported even when they are just suspected violations. some of the common and potentially dangerous building code violations are behind finished walls. This makes them hard to locate and even harder to fix. some examples of these building code violations are improper framing, excessively cut and notched studs and joists, and inadequate connections between building materials.
Any component of the construction site or project can be subject to a violation issued by an inspector. Some common violations are related to oversight, cutting corners, and misinterpreting the building code. Sometimes the violation was present on the plans from the very start of the project and were just missed by every professional in between. This doesn’t happen often, but it is possible. The violations issued are generally for “small” infractions that may not seem like a big deal to contractors or the owner. However, each building must abide by the building codes to keep the socially accepted norms and standards for building in communities.
How to avoid building code violations
You can try to avoid building code violations by being aware of an up-to-date on the local building code. Having your building site inspected before you put finishes on or walls up 10 prevent building code violations. Additionally, having your plans reviewed within the context of building code violations for the city you are building in, will go a long way in helping to prevent future building code violations once a project is underway. While it isn't possible to avoid all building code violations being aware of how they happen can help you avoid them.
Vetting and checking references for subcontractors that will be on your build site can also help cheap building code violations in check. often building code violations happen when contractors or subcontractors try to cut corners or speed things up in the build process. this type of behavior leads to accidents, time loss, money loss, and potentially failed inspections. knowing who you are allowing on site is not only an important part of your job as the owner or general contractor but also an important mitigator for building code violations.
While your construction site is active another way to avoid building code violations is to conduct your own weekly mini inspections. this involves touring and walking through the site looking for things that an inspector might look for. this activity will only be helpful if you know what the building codes are and how they work specifically in the locale you are in.
You may want to employ or contract with a retired commercial building code inspector or a building code compliance expert to do pre-walkthroughs before the official building inspection. while this won't necessarily guarantee a passing inspection, it could help highlight violations and infractions before the official inspection. It could give you an opportunity to correct the violation before it happens for real. Working with a building code compliance expert from the start of your project will go a long way in helping you avoid costly mistakes further down the line in your project. It could be the difference between completing your project on time or not.
How to remove a building violation
Removing a building violation from your construction project will require more than one or two steps. The very first thing you will need to do is to understand the violation once it has been officially issued. because building inspections are done by different people, each inspection will result in a different outcome. Taking the time to get to know your inspector may help you understand why they highlighted this particular violation and how to fix it. Outside of talking with the violation issuing inspector, you may also want to consult with a code compliance expert. also, a third-party inspector may be able to help makes sense of the issued violations. understanding what the violation is and why it was found non-compliant with the local jurisdictions building code is a vital step in determining how to fix the violation.
Once you are certain that all the violations have been accounted for, that best way to start working through the violation removal is by categorizing and grouping the violations by contractor type. This exercise will help you sort through all of the violations and determine which contractor needed to come back on site and when. Thus, helping with the arduous task of scheduling and talking with all of the contractors to get them back on site to fix the violations. Generally, it is recommended to begin with structural violations on the “fix” list to ensure the structure is safe for other contractors to be on the site.
Who to contact and when
This will vary greatly depending on where the violation was issued. Pay close attention to whatever official paperwork comes in regarding your building violation. Often it will include the contact information and location of the governing body that you will need to contact to move your case forward. Be sure your mailing address is up to date and correct with the local jurisdiction. Only contact the inspector when you believe you have rectified all of the violations they issued on your job site. The last thing you want to do is to have the inspector have to make multiple trips. Calling them out when you aren’t truly ready won’t bode well for project status.
How can an MEP engineer help you avoid building violations in the future?
A qualified MEP engineer can help you size equipment based on a number of factors. The engineer is required to have a certain level of construction and mechanical, electrical, Plumbing knowledge. they are also required to know and understand the load calculations necessary to size MEP equipment. Their experience and knowledge gives them the basis to effectively and efficiently size your MEP equipment.
A local qualified MEP engineer will have knowledge and understanding of the local building codes and local governing bodies for the commercial construction industry. They are your expert boots on the ground in the mechanical, electrical, plumbing areas of your project. The MEP engineer is a vital component of your construction team and someone who you should use as a reliable resource. If your general contractor does not have an MEP engineer in-house, do your due diligence and find one you work well with.
The MEP engineer will be able to review the plans you have drafted with your architect and with all of the information you have gathered on the size of equipment you think you need, they won't be able to determine your next steps and the direction you need to go. They may need to conduct additional or complementary research and inquiries to verify they are making the correct recommendation for the size of equipment for your application.
Calling on the experts like an MEP engineer will help your project succeed in the long run and help you to continue being profitable and efficient. Knowing when to call in an expert is a valuable skill to have. If you think you need an MEP engineer please take a moment to contact us and we would be happy to review your project information. We are pleased to serve the Chicago area and welcome local and out of state clients.