COFFEE BREAK RECAP – This month’s “coffee break” video recap focuses on how to navigate the existing building code and uniform construction code within your historic building project in Pennsylvania. Watch below.
- Focus: Exemptions (Existing Building Code) and things liable to the Uniform Construction Code, depending on the parameters of a historic building project in Pennsylvania
- Solutions: Danielle and Jonathan discussed tips:
- Work with a contractor or design specialist who has preservation knowledge who can work flexibly with a code officer.
- Know EXEMPTIONS that fall under Existing Building Code:
- Historic buildings listed on the state or national historic register
- Historic building that is part of a historic district
- Replacement in kind (under the Secretary of Interiors Standards)
- Staircases (unaltered)
- Means of egress (doorways)
- Energy conservation
- Floodplain-located buildings
- Fire rating
- Know what is LIABLE to the Uniform Construction Code:
- Changing the usage of a building
- Substantial improvement/Alterations – if the percentage of alterations is more than 50% of the building’s value (even if usage remains the same)
- Relocated structure
- Seismic (structural) retrofits
- Means of egress
- If you disagree with the code officer, know the process of appeals
- Check with your local municipality
Old buildings are not automatically exempt from the Uniform Building Code in Pennsylvania
– ARM YOURSELF WITH KNOWLEDGE TO NAVIGATE CODES ON YOUR NEXT PROJECT!
- Meylvn Green’s book, Building Codes for Existing and Historic Buildings
- Although some things are municipality-specific, here is an example overview of the historical review process in Philadelphia
- The Secretary of the Interior’s Codes and Regulatory Requirements for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings
- For fire ratings/safety: Although it is obsolete, this building materials ratings guideline can help inspectors who ask for more information. Also, this video shows flammability of a historical interior vs. a modern one.