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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: February 17, 2015 02:05 PM
From: Representative Eli Evankovich
To: All House members
Subject: Legislation Amending the Pennsylvania Construction Code Act (Act 45 of 1999)
In the near future I plan to introduce legislation to amend the Pennsylvania Construction Code Act (Act 45 of 1999) to give local code administrators more flexibility in issuing certificates of occupancy to “uncertified” buildings. This bill is a reintroduction of HB 2079 (Smith) from last session.

The Pennsylvania Construction Code Act created the Uniform Construction Code (UCC) for which is the statewide building code. The UCC went into effect on April 10, 2004. In 2004 the Department of Labor & Industry made the administrative determination that existing buildings which did not ever obtain a certificate of occupancy under the prior Fire & Panic Act or other municipal ordinance were "illegal buildings". The department made the policy decision that "illegal" buildings must meet the new construction requirements of the UCC, which meant that they had to meet current accessibility/egress/fire safety requirements. This interpretation by the department created much controversy because owners of such buildings faced very large costs to bring such buildings up to code.

To clarify the confusion by this departmental interpretation, in 2005 the Legislature passed SB 736 (which was signed into law as Act 95 of 2005), which amended the Pennsylvania Construction Code Act to create a set of reasonable fire safety/egress standards that the Department of Labor & Industry could use to issue certificates of occupancy to uncertified buildings under its jurisdiction. Act 95 also made clear that code administrators in “opt in” municipalities could issue certificates of occupancy to uncertified buildings if such buildings met the requirements of the IEBC or Chapter 34 of the IBC; however, if an “opt in” municipality wanted to use the departmental technical standards, the municipality could only do so by passing an ordinance.

This legislation simply amends the law to give a code administrator in an “opt in” municipality the ability to use the departmental technical standards created by Act 95 without passing an ordinance. In essence, this bill will give municipal code administrators another “tool” to work with in assist municipalities in working with owners of uncertified buildings. This legislation was reviewed by the UCC Review and Advisory Council at its February 20th, 2014 meeting and it was endorsed by the Council.

It is important to note that HB 2079 was supported by all interested parties, and passed the House 200-0 on May 6, 2014.

Introduced as HB568