Appealing a Decision
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The role of the Building Safety and Permits Division is to enforce the Uniform Statewide Building Code (USBC). Sometimes the contractor/owner/designer will disagree with a Building Safety and Permits decision as to what code requires. Please understand that inspections are often rejected for valid but minor code discrepancies; such situations are often easily resolved.
Most problems are resolved at the inspector level. If you are unable to reach agreement with the inspector as to how to solve the problem, the inspector may recommend you consider requesting a code modification.
Upon written application by an owner or an owner's agent, the building official may approve a modification of any provision of the USBC provided the spirit and functional intent of the code are observed and public health, welfare and safety are assured. If you have a code violation, or anticipate one on your job, and you feel that you meet the "spirit and intent" of code, you may apply in writing to the building official for a code modification.
Statement of Equivalency
Many modification applicants identify the code violation while failing to state how they have met the spirit and intent of code. When this happens, the building official has no choice but to turn down the request. Applicants who are unsure what to write for equivalency text should imagine that they are standing on the job site looking at the code discrepancy in question. They should imagine the Building Official is standing beside them and imagine what they would say to him to convince him the item in question meets the spirit and intent of code.
A modification request can be in the form of a letter to the building official, or the applicant can use blank forms available at the Building Safety and Permits Division counter. In either case, the application should include the street address, the permit number and the signatures of both the contractor and the owner.
The owner of a building or structure, the owner's agent or any other person involved in the design or construction of a building or structure, may appeal a decision of the building official concerning the application of the USBC to such building or structure and may also appeal a refusal by the building official to grant a modification to the provisions of the USBC pertaining to such building or structure.
Ideally, formal appeals will never be necessary; they should only be used after the processes identified above have been fully explored. An appeal application must be in writing and must be submitted within 90 days of the decision to be appealed. Upon receipt of the written appeal application, the building official shall arrange for the local 5 member Board of Building Code Appeals (BBCA) to meet within 30 calendar days to consider the appeal.
Following a public hearing to consider the matter the BBCA may rule against or in favor of the applicant. The decision may be appealed to the state Technical Review Board. If you decide filing an appeal is your only option, please make sure you review the entire administrative process with Building Safety and Permits Division management.