After a public comment period ending this past August, the Connecticut Codes and Standards Committee voted to accept the proposed 2016 State Building Code and 2016 State Fire Safety Code. The new code replaces the 2005 State Building Code, and its amendments, and will apply to all permit applications made on or after October 1, 2016. The 2016 Code incorporates several national model codes, along with Connecticut-specific amendments, including:
- 2012 International Building Code
- 2009 ICC/ANSI A117.1 Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities Code
- 2012 International Existing Building Code
- 2012 International Plumbing Code
- 2012 International Mechanical Code
- 2012 International Energy Conservation Code
- 2014 NFPA 70 National Electric Code
- 2012 International Residential Code
Connecticut’s amendments to the various model codes, as published by the Office of the State Building Inspector, can be found here.
The 2016 State Building Code presents all stakeholders with new challenges in ensuring code compliance. The new Code affects not only future projects, but also those already in the pipeline that have not yet been submitted for permits. Future-looking designers may have anticipated this change and designed their projects accordingly, while others may have been racing the clock to submit under the old code. If they did not make it in time, there may still be some options available before resorting to going back to the drawing board.
One former State Building Inspector suggests applying for modifications from both the Office of the State Building Inspector and the Office of the State Fire Marshal to use the 2005 codes with all subsequent amendments, if the documents are at a stage that makes changing them to meet the 2016 codes impracticable. He notes that the Office of the State Building Inspector has indicated that it will look favorably upon these requests for a period of 3 to 4 months after October 1. This option could save some of the time and expense of redesigning a project and help to keep projects on the same scheduled path as before the implementation of the new code. Another possibility for those who applied for a full or partial building permit prior to the effective date of the new Code, whose applications have been denied or remain incomplete, is to request time extensions from the relevant local building officials upon a written showing of justifiable cause for the delay and proceed under the former version of the Code.
In addition to creating potential compliance issues, the implementation of the new code may be a trigger for contract modifications for projects using contracts from the AIA. The base AIA design agreement treats any change in codes as an additional service, although it is often modified to require compliance with codes scheduled to go into effect. Re-designs can obviously have a significant impact on project budgets, both for design fees and hard costs, and on schedules.
Notably, the State of Connecticut has been unable keep pace with the model codes, having been using the 2003 versions for over 10 years. While this latest adoption of the 2012 versions was a step forward, seeing as several interim versions were not adopted in Connecticut, the 2015 editions are already being published. Model codes for future years are currently in development, and Connecticut can expect further code changes in the years to come. Bruce Spiewak, a building code consultant who has closely monitored this cycle of adoption, believes the passage of future code updates has been streamlined and will happen more promptly, thanks to a change in the code revision process that was approved this year. With the enactment of Public Act 16-215, “An Act Concerning the Department of Administrative Services’ Recommendations Regarding the Adoption of the State Building and Fire Codes,” by the Connecticut Legislature on May 16, 2016, the Legislature shortened the length of time required for the code revision process by reducing the steps required to secure final governmental approval. With this in mind, it is more important than ever for those working on construction projects in Connecticut to stay up to date with the most recent code developments and strategies for ensuring that changes are taken in-stride and not a cause for avoidable delay.
Niel’s admission to the Connecticut Bar is currently pending.