Tips To Help Ensure Your Building Is Up To Code (In Any State)
Meeting building code requirements is surely an essential part of your job as a property manager, but when is the last time you stepped back and looked at the bigger picture of how your building syncs up with its building code and why this is so important? Here, we take a closer look at some of the more common building-code requirements and why the most obvious violations are often overlooked, even unintentionally.
Building codes can be required by state, county, city, or municipality (or all of them at once). Note that not all areas issue the exact same kind of codes; they may differ slightly or greatly. Check with your city’s municipal office to make sure you are following the code that is required.
Code guidelines for your site can seem overwhelming because they cover a multitude of categories. Building codes can cover:
- Structural guidelines
- Public pools
While adhering to code in so many different areas can seem daunting, there is no denying the importance of having them set in place as comprehensive guidelines that help you make your site a safe place that serves your tenants well.
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What exactly is code enforcement?
Standards must be set and adhered to; otherwise, there would be chaos (and worse). Building codes assure that all commercial, residential, public assembly, and other public buildings are constructed in a way that enforces structural stability, fire safety, sanitation, good wiring, and adequate egress (exits). The goal is to protect the public health, safety and welfare relating to buildings and property.
How does the process work?
Initial code compliance starts with an application for a building permit. If the building already exists, official inspections are made periodically to help ensure that the building is up to code. If there is a violation or deficiency, an order is issued by the code inspector to correct the condition and bring it “up to code.” In many cases, property managers and building owners will have to pay a fine if they do not meet a certain code requirement.
Records of code inspection activity and compliance measures — including permit applications, fees, inspections, notices ,and orders — are kept on file, usually at city hall or a local municipal office.
Are building codes law?
Yes. Building codes are considered local laws. However, must municipalities take their rules and regulations from one of the national model codes:
- The Building Officials & Code Administrators International, Inc. (BOCA)
- The International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO)
- The Southern Building Code Congress International, Inc. (SBCCI)
- The Council of American Building Officials (CABO)
- The International Building Code (IBC)
Model Codes are usually updated and/or revised every three years, and anyone can suggest and submit a code change. The suggestion is usually evaluated by a committee and given a hearing. If the suggestion goes unchallenged, it usually becomes approved. Other national bodies that local municipalities pull from include The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). For an in-depth look at the latest updates to ASME’s elevator code visit this page.
How to stay current and relevant with your local building codes:
Know the local building code.
Local building code is not always easy to read or interpret, so be sure to get some clarity by asking for explanation from your local inspector when needed.
Create a working partnership with your local inspector.
Reaching out to your local inspector shouldn’t be a one-time thing. Keeping open communication with your inspectors is especially a good idea if you are planning on remodeling or expanding your property.
Ask questions of your contractors and subcontractors.
Make sure that they are aware of the latest building codes before they begin work, or have your local inspector review the project before any work begins. Finding contractors/subcontractors who are knowledgeable on code requirements pertaining to their specialty should be a top priority.
An essential property item when it comes to code compliance: emergency communications.
Life safety is one area you don’t want to mess around with when it comes to code compliance, as failure to comply can result in severe consequences.
Don’t wait for your next code inspection. Make sure your tenants are protected 24/7 with an easy-to-use emergency communications system. It can serve as a lifesaver in an emergency situation, allowing your tenants to get help and guidance as quickly as possible.
In fact, Kings III operators are all Advanced Emergency Medical Dispatch certified (AEMD), allowing them to give your tenants step-by-step pre-arrival medical instructions until help arrives, including CPR, if needed. An AEMD certification meets and exceeds all national safety requirements, allowing for dedicated attention in any emergency.
Kings III offers dependable phone equipment, installation, ongoing maintenance, and 24/7/365 elevator phone monitoring. We design our equipment with code compliance and caller experience in mind, staying at the forefront of code and technology changes.
The benefits for your tenants are clear. In addition to helping to ensure that you are up to code, the benefits for you: reduced risk, liability, and costs.
Emergencies can suddenly turn your safe, familiar, comfortable property into a danger zone, and it is essential to have places to turn to help you and your tenants get through it. Here is a list of good emergency resources to get you started.
Your legal liability as a property manager and/or building owner may vary from state to state, but, generally speaking, there is a core of common liabilities that many in the industry face. Pay special attention to these common causes of property manager and building owner liabilities and act accordingly.
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To us, our emergency operators are always “essential workers,” but as Kings III has continued to operate as critical infrastructure throughout the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, they are now officially deemed as essential by the country. Get to know three of our operators a little better and learn more about our emergency dispatch center in this interview.
These tips will help you with the extra steps you need to take to make sure your property is ready to re-enter an evolving business landscape.
Kings III makes it easy as a single point-of-contact for all your emergency response needs. With expertise in line connectivity, compliance codes, equipment maintenance and safety protocol, we offer the total package.