HB1005: Uniform Statewide Building Code; exceptions, provisions, and modifications.


Offered January 8, 2020
Prefiled January 7, 2020
A BILL to amend and reenact §§ 36-98 and 36-99 of the Code of Virginia, relating to housing; Uniform Statewide Building Code; exceptions, provisions, and modifications; local disaster resilience measures.
Patron-- Mullin

Committee Referral Pending

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1. That §§ 36-98 and 36-99 of the Code of Virginia are amended and reenacted as follows:

§ 36-98. Board to promulgate Statewide Code; other codes and regulations superseded; exceptions.

The Board is hereby directed and empowered to adopt and promulgate a Uniform Statewide Building Code. Such building code shall supersede the building codes and regulations of the counties, municipalities and other political subdivisions and state agencies.

However, such Code shall not supersede the regulations of other state agencies which require and govern the functional design and operation of building related activities not covered by the Uniform Statewide Building Code including but not limited to (i) public water supply systems, (ii) waste water treatment and disposal systems, and (iii) solid waste facilities. Nor shall state agencies be prevented from requiring, pursuant to other state law, that buildings and equipment be maintained in accordance with provisions of the Uniform Statewide Building Code.

Such Code also shall supersede the provisions of local ordinances applicable to single-family residential construction that (a) regulate dwelling foundations or crawl spaces, (b) require the use of specific building materials or finishes in construction, or (c) require minimum surface area or numbers of windows; however, such Code shall not supersede proffered conditions accepted as a part of a rezoning application, conditions imposed upon the grant of special exceptions, special or conditional use permits or variances, conditions imposed upon a clustering of single-family homes and preservation of open space development through standards, conditions, and criteria established by a locality pursuant to subdivision 8 of § 15.2-2242 or § 15.2-2286.1, or land use requirements in airport or highway overlay districts, or historic districts created pursuant to § 15.2-2306, or local flood plain regulations adopted as a condition of participation in the National Flood Insurance Program, including participation in the Community Rating System, or measures adopted by local ordinance to make buildings resilient to foreseeable harm from recurrent flooding, coastal storms, sea level rise, and other similar threats to the health, safety, and general welfare of the locality and its residents.

§ 36-99. Provisions of Code; modifications.

A. The Building Code shall prescribe building regulations to be complied with in the construction and rehabilitation of buildings and structures, and the equipment therein as defined in § 36-97, and shall prescribe regulations to ensure that such buildings and structures are properly maintained, and shall also prescribe procedures for the administration and enforcement of such regulations, including procedures to be used by the local building department in the evaluation and granting of modifications for any provision of the Building Code, provided the spirit and functional intent of the Building Code are observed and public health, welfare and safety are assured. The provisions of the Building Code and modifications thereof shall be such as to protect the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the Commonwealth, provided that buildings and structures should be permitted to be constructed, rehabilitated and maintained at the least possible cost consistent with recognized standards of health, safety, resilience, hazard risk reduction, energy conservation and water conservation, including provisions necessary to prevent overcrowding, rodent or insect infestation, and garbage accumulation; and barrier-free provisions for the physically handicapped and aged. Such regulations shall be reasonable and appropriate to the objectives of this chapter.

B. In formulating the Code provisions, the Board shall have due regard for generally accepted standards as recommended by nationally recognized organizations, including, but not limited to, the standards of the International Code Council and the National Fire Protection Association. Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, farm buildings and structures shall be exempt from the provisions of the Building Code, except for a building or a portion of a building located on a farm that is operated as a restaurant as defined in § 35.1-1 and licensed as such by the Board of Health pursuant to Chapter 2 (§ 35.1-11 et seq.) of Title 35.1. However, farm buildings and structures lying within a flood plain or in a mudslide-prone area shall be subject to flood-proofing flood plain regulations or mudslide regulations, as applicable.

C. Where practical, the Code provisions shall be stated in terms of required level of performance, so as to facilitate the prompt acceptance of new building materials and methods. When generally recognized standards of performance are not available, such provisions shall provide for acceptance of materials and methods whose performance has been found by the local building department, on the basis of reliable test and evaluation data, presented by the proponent, to be substantially equal in safety to those specified.

D. The Board, upon a finding that sufficient allegations exist regarding failures noted in several localities of performance standards by either building materials, methods, or design, may conduct hearings on such allegations if it determines that such alleged failures, if proven, would have an adverse impact on the health, safety, or welfare of the citizens of the Commonwealth. After at least 21 days' written notice, the Board shall convene a hearing to consider such allegations. Such notice shall be given to the known manufacturers of the subject building material and as many other interested parties, industry representatives, and trade groups as can reasonably be identified. Following the hearing, the Board, upon finding that (i) the current technical or administrative Code provisions allow use of or result in defective or deficient building materials, methods, or designs, and (ii) immediate action is necessary to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of the Commonwealth, may issue amended regulations establishing interim performance standards and Code provisions for the installation, application, and use of such building materials, methods or designs in the Commonwealth. Such amended regulations shall become effective upon their publication in the Virginia Register of Regulations. Any amendments to regulations adopted pursuant to this subsection shall become effective upon their publication in the Virginia Register of Regulations and shall be effective for a period of 24 months or until adopted, modified, or repealed by the Board.