July 18, 2008
STATE BUILDING CODE
By: Veronica Rose, Principal Analyst
You want to know (1) if there is a State of Connecticut basic building code, (2) what edition of the building code is currently being used in Connecticut and where it can be purchased, and (3) if local appeal boards may override local building officials' decisions.
Connecticut no longer has a basic building code. The last basic building code was the 1981 edition.
The current state building code consists of the:
1. 2003 editions of the International Code Council's (ICC) building, residential, existing building, mechanical, plumbing, and energy conservation codes;
2. 2003 edition of the ICC and American National Standards Institute's code (ICC/ANSI A117.1-2003) for accessible and usable buildings and facilities;
3. 2005 Connecticut supplement (www.ct.gov/dps), which ICC has included in the building and residential codes (see below); and
4. 2005 electrical code (NFPA-70).
The electrical code is available from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). All the codes, including the electrical code, are available from the Connecticut Building Officials Association and the American Institute of Architects. All, except the electrical code, are available from ICC.
CGS § 29-266 outlines the building code cases that municipal appeal boards may hear. Although the law does not stipulate that the boards may overturn local building officials' decisions, the authority to do so is implied in their charge to hear appeals and render decisions. Aggrieved parties may appeal the boards' decisions to the state Codes and Standards Committee and the committee's decisions to Superior Court.
MODEL CODES AND CONNECTICUT SUPPLEMENT
State law requires the state building inspector and the Codes and Standards Committee to adopt and administer a state building code based on a national model building code to regulate the design, construction, and use of buildings or structures (CGS § 29-252).
ICC publishes model codes for adoption by state and local governments. The codes are prepared in collaboration with engineers, architects, builders, material producers, and trade association members. Because they are intended for general application throughout the United States and Canada, they contain generic administrative provisions not suitable for Connecticut. Thus, Connecticut has not incorporated all of their provisions in the state building code, and it has modified others to reflect state law, regulations, and standards. The modifications, which take the form of amendments, deletions, and additions, are published as regulations in the Connecticut Law Journal and referred to as the Connecticut Supplement [to the state building code].
Typically, amendments modify code provisions to reflect state law and reconcile inconsistencies; additions are provisions required by the state but not the codes; and deletions are provisions that conflict with state law or regulations or are required by the codes but not the state. According to the State Building Inspector's Office, ICC has agreed to incorporate the 2005 Connecticut supplement in the 2003 building and residential codes.
APPEALS OF LOCAL BUILDING OFFICIALS DECISIONS
A building owner or his or her agent may appeal to the municipal appeal board if aggrieved by a building official's decision to (1) deny a permit under certain circumstances or (2) issue a stop order because an employee on a project for which a permit was issued lacks the proper license or apprentice permit. An appeal of a permit denial must be based on (1) the building official's refusal to approve the proposed mode or manner of construction or the material to be used in the construction or alteration or (2) a claim that the true intent of the code or regulations has
been misconstrued or misinterpreted, the provisions of the code do not fully apply, or an equivalent form of construction may be used (CGS § 29-266(b)).
A person other than the building owner or agent aggrieved by “any decision of the building official” may also appeal to the board. Before determining the merits of a nonowner's appeal, the board must determine if he or she has the right to appeal.
On receiving an appeal, the board must appoint a three-person panel to hear it. The panel decision is subject to de novo review by the full board.
The state building inspector must review decisions when he has reason to believe that either the building official or board misconstrued or misinterpreted the code. If he so determines, he must issue an official interpretation and may issue any order he considers appropriate (CGS § 29-252(d)).
Anyone aggrieved by the board's decision, building inspector's determination or order, or chief executive officer's failure to appoint a board may appeal to the state Codes and Standards Committee. The aggrieved person may appeal the committee's decision to Superior Court.
Contact Information for ICC, NFPA, the Connecticut Building Officials Association, and the American Institute of Architects is shown below.