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A Building Codes Overview

The adopted building codes expanded is scope and number since Planchek began working for Charles County Government in 1995. Comparatively, in 1997, when Planchek was hired to perform inspections, an entirely different set of Code regulations were used - BOCA and CABO authored the codes. The building codes adopted then included: Building, Electrical, Plumbing & Gas. The Americans with Disabilities Act was in its infancy. Planchek contracted to perform similar duties with Indian Head in 2002.

The most recent iteration, the 2015 codes, are authored by the International Code Council - ICC. BOCA and CABO were unified in 2000 - in an effort to streamline compliance in the various jurisdictions nationwide. Ostensibly, that made sense from a practical standpoint. Unfortunately, over time, that decision has not afforded the benefits the unification promised. Not having an option in the code selection process, permitted mischief. Unification made it possible to implement codes many jurisdictions would otherwise reject, and, for the authors to be unduly pressured to develop codes the public did not authorize - directly. Having several authors makes mandates much more difficult. Only one code author presents the opportunity for influential federal and state interests to pressure the author to include, and mandate, unwanted codes. This precludes, or makes increasingly problematic, each state from controlling the codes adopted therein.

The Code divisions currently adopted include: Building, Electrical, Plumbing & Gas, Mechanical, Energy Efficiency, Green, Existing Building, ADA, and a few ancillary requirements mandated by the federal government and State of Maryland.

The number of inspections performed have also increased.

The 1997 SFD inspections included: Footing, Backfill, Slab, Framing, Final.

The 2015 SFD inspections include: Footing, Wall Re-enforcement, Backfill, Slab, Load Path, Energy Efficiency, Framing, Driveway, Final.

(More inspection types may also appear due to the enhanced scope of the codes adopted and the potential for the federal and state government to mandate enhanced inspections.)

The Charles County Commissioners, and the Town's elected officials, have continually sought to find the proper balance in the codes adopted and compliance requirements. They always erred on the side of safety - the preservation of life and limb. Operability and efficiency are other areas where they successfully worked to achieve the "Intent of the Codes", without applying onerous compliance standards unnecessarily.

Planchek has no influence over the codes adopted. The code types, the number of codes, the types and number of inspections, are PRIMARILY the domain of our employers: Charles County Government and The Town of Indian Head.

HOWEVER, the permit holders in Southern Maryland needs be aware that several new codes, and the permits and inspections required to administer those codes, were MANDATED - by the federal government and/or the state government - and/or agencies of those entities.

Elected officials in Annapolis and at the US Congress are in a position to influence which codes are required, and the scope of the codes mandated nationwide; or within the boundaries of Maryland. The scope and complexity of the Green and Energy codes qualify as codes that never were approved by the Congress. They are agency codes. The requirements in these codes were written in the Cpa & Trade legislation. That legislation never made it for a vote; was never approved. Members of Congress are ultimately responsible for the codes becoming mandated, or preventing the mandates.

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