Pennsylvania Set to Enforce 2015 Editions of the International Code Council’s Model Codes on October 1, 2018
On October 25, 2017, Pennsylvania Governor Wolf signed into law HB 409, creating Act 36 of 2017, which significantly changed the Uniform Construction Code review and adoption process for the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry’s Uniform Construction Code (UCC) Review and Advisory Council (RAC).
The UCC RAC was authorized to conduct a review of the 2015 International Code Council (ICC) Model Codes. Other provisions of Act 36 of 2017 included:
- A six-month limit permits that a contract for design or construction can be used after the adoption of the new codes and inspected under prior codes.
- An increase for UCC permit fees.
- That the Department of Labor and Industry shall issue a Pennsylvania Custom Code Book.
- That Technical Advisory Committees were established to review specific portions of the triennial ICC Code updates.
As required by Act 36 of 2017, in December of 2017 the UCC RAC voted to review the 2015 Edition of the ICC Model Codes for state-wide adoption. Following that review, on May 1, 2018, the UCC RAC issued a report that it had voted to adopt four of the 2015 ICC Codes without amendment:
- International Fire Code (IFC)
- International Mechanical Code (IMC)
- International Plumbing Code (IPC)
- International Wildland-Urban Interface Code (IWUIC)
Further, the UCC RAC voted to adopt five of the 2015 ICC Codes with minor amendments:
- International Building Code (IBC)
- International Energy Conservation Code (IECC)
- International Existing Building Code (IEBC)
- International Fuel Gas Code (IFGC)
- International Residential Code for One- and Two-Family Dwellings (IRC)
By an oversight, the UCC RAC did not review and update the ICC Performance Code for Buildings and Facilities (ICCPC). Under this circumstance, the 2009 version of the ICCPC will likely remain in place.
Most of the minor amendments either revert to provisions stated in the 2009 ICC Codes or mirrors language stated there. In certain cases, the amendments adopt language or provisions stated in the newer 2018 ICC Codes. For example, in the International Building Code, Section 2609.4, Exception 3 added language to the area limitations of light-transmitting plastic roof panels in production or research greenhouses: “…occupied for growing or maintaining plants…” This is a minor amendment that accounts for greenhouses used for plant maintenance.
However, more significant amendments were adopted in the IRC. For example, the 2015 IRC Table R507.6, which has requirements for the maximum span of exterior deck beams, was deleted and replaced with 2018 IRC Table R507.5, which adds more beam sizes and restrictions on cantilevered beams. The amendments to the IRC also included new language and a new table that address load-bearing exterior wall studs. In this regard, architects and engineers will need to refer to both the 2015 IRC and the 2018 IRC when designing residential structures.
As required under Act 36 of 2017, the new and amended codes shall take effect in Pennsylvania on October 1, 2018.
Act 36 of 2017 also included that, as of October 30, 2017, the City of Philadelphia was authorized to adopt the 2018 ICC Commercial Codes through a City Council ordinance. On June 6, 2018, Philadelphia Mayor Kenney signed City Council Bill 180176, adopting the 2018 ICC Codes, also effective October 1, 2018.
As always, Consulting Engineers & Scientists, Inc. can provide detailed research and analysis of the newly adopted Uniform Construction Codes, as well as historically adopted codes and other governmental agency requirements.
David M. Kenney, AIA, NCARB – Registered Architect