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· Important Facts
Groundwork Laid a Decade Ago
In July of 2001, Wisconsin adopted a Wisconsin Commercial Building Code based on national model codes. This was the culmination of years of effort to move Wisconsin from its own “home-grown” state code to the use of national model codes. Because nearly every state used the model codes, the promise of this move was uniformity across state lines.
While the Wisconsin Commercial Building Code was based on model codes, local units of government were still free to adopt additional code provisions by virtue of local ordinances. These local ordinances created confusing pockets of local variations to the model codes.
Uniform Commercial Building Code
2013 Wisconsin Act 270 establishes a Uniform Commercial Building Code (UCBC) for the State of Wisconsin. The previous Commercial Building Code acted as a minimum standard because it allowed municipalities to enact ordinances above and beyond those described in the code. The UCBC replaces the previous Commercial Building Code and eliminates (most) municipal variations.
Certain Existing Ordinances Eligible for Grandfathering
Act 270 allows for any town, village or city to submit ordinances to the Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) within 60 days of publication of the law (April 18, 2014) for review and grandfathering if the ordinance meets all of the following requirements:
Grandfathered Ordinances in One Place
For many years it has been difficult to determine just how many municipalities had unique commercial building code provisions, much less what those provisions were. Additionally, because municipalities could change those ordinances at any time, builders were left trying to hit a moving target.
Act 270 not only significantly limits local variations eligible for grandfathering; it also requires DSPS to collect grandfathered ordinances in a central location accessible to builders and designers. This repository will make it easier for the industry to identify and comply with unique local code requirements.
Commercial Building Code Council
Act 270 creates a Building Code Council for the purpose of reviewing the code and making recommendations to DSPS to keep the UCBC current. Membership of the council is as follows:
Expands Variance Review
The department has traditionally accepted the plan review (examination of essential drawings, calculations and specifications) performed by cities of the 1st class and certain cities of the 2nd class.
Cities of the 2nd class may apply for certification by the department if that city employs at least one architect or one professional engineer. Under, Act 270 cities of the 2nd class who have plan review status can now also petition the department for the ability to review petitions for variance.
In addition, the Act requires inspections to determine compliance with the commercial building code be performed by individuals certified by DSPS (Commercial Building Inspectors). Inspections of fire detection, prevention and suppression devices being installed during construction can also be performed by individuals certified by the department (fire inspector) under separate (to be developed) rules.
There is a delayed effective date related to inspectors who inspect fire detection, prevention and suppression devices being installed during construction, alteration or additions to give time to the industry implement the training and certification necessary.