No, the requirement for Virginia Tech to conduct construction, renovation, alterations, additions, change of use, and maintenance according to the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code is not new. The state legislature has required the university to meet the requirements of the fire codes and building codes since it was first adopted. The first building code for state owned buildings was adopted in 1949.
The Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code is adopted by the state legislature based on amendments to model codes adopted by the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).
The building code is provided to safeguard life safety to the greatest economical extent possible. While we can never prevent all possible fires or building failures, we can take steps to learn from past failures.
The answer is that the building code is the law established by the Commonwealth of Virginia and any work done on campus by you, for you, or on your behalf must be done in conformance with the code. More often than not, this will require a building permit. Beyond the aspect of law, the Building Code is simply the minimum requirements for building safety based on years of failures and accidents and what we know about the materials we build with.
The University Building Official is responsible for all buildings and facilities owned by the university or the Virginia Extension Service. This includes all of the on campus facilities and all of the other buildings and properties within the Commonwealth of Virginia. Property and buildings owned by the Virginia Tech Foundation, Inc. are accountable to the county or city building official in that area.
A Building Permit is a legal license to begin construction on a project. In addition, building permits are broken down into separate permits for mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fuel gas work. Often they are all collectively referred to as building permits.
A Building Permit assures safe construction and allows for the enforcement of the codes that have been adopted as law to protect the public safety, health, and welfare.
Building permits provide the means for the code officials to protect persons through review and inspection to ensure minimum standards are being meet.
Generally, permits are the responsibility of the project manager responsible for the work or project. In order to obtain the required permit(s), the project manager should:
- Fully understand and document the project. Information about the equipment to be installed, existing structures that are to be impacted, soils, construction documents, etc. is required. This information should be organized into a package and attached to a permit application. Note that some projects may require the involvement of a design professional such as an engineer or an architect.
- Submit the application to the Office of the University Building Official and provide the construction documents for review.
The Office of the University Building Official will review the documents and the appropriate sections of the code to verify compliance. This process may generate questions and/or non-compliance issues that must be resolved before a permit can be issued.Once the drawings and related documents are approved, the permit(s) and approved documents will be issued.
Construction may begin at any time within six (6) months of receiving the permit(s). During the progress of the work, the project manager should arrange for specific inspections of the project. A Certificate of Occupancy (CO) or Final Inspection is the final stage of a project.
You may be served with a Stop Work Order resulting in the project being delayed. You will be required to submit drawings and documents with an application immediately for review. Continued failure to follow the requirements of the building code will result in a Notice of Violation, as well as a Stop Work Order.
Violations will be reported to the university administration and the Board of Visitors for disciplinary action as appropriate.
The code establishes certain minimum inspections, which are itemized below:
No work shall be covered without written confirmation from the Office of the University Building Official that inspections are complete and all code related deficiencies have been resolved.
Footing Inspection – This inspection will be conducted after basement or footing trenches are excavated and forms, where applicable, are erected. All reinforcement steel, when necessary, must be in place and anchored. This inspection must be made prior to pouring concrete. If the work involves slab on grade (monolithic pour) construction, this inspection will include the foundation inspection.
Masonry Foundation Wall Inspection: The foundation block must be completed to the level of the finish grade, and be continuous over any steps or grade changes. Piers must be complete to the level of finish grade and any brick or other veneer must also be in place. All bonding or other lateral support of intersection walls must be complete and visible. All form boards or step boards must be removed and the foundation trench ready for backfilling. The top of the footings must be clean and clearly visible. Inspectors will not wait more than several minutes until the footing is made visible if they arrive and find it has been covered.
Damp-Proofing Inspection: Basements must be inspected for water-proofing method, drains, gravel, and filter cloth before being backfilled.
Piling Installation: The inspector may require the installation of pile foundations be supervised by the owner's professional engineer or an approved professional service.
Reinforces Concrete: This inspection must be conducted for concrete beams, columns, and slabs prior to pouring concrete. All reinforcement steel, when necessary, must be in place and anchored.
Floor Joists Inspection: This inspection will be conducted after load-bearing walls to the first floor sill height have been erected, beams and floor-joists have been installed, and grading within the perimeter walls has been completed. Sub-flooring shall not be installed before this inspection has been approved. In basements, the first floor system (box) shall have all approved (on plans) supports (posts, columns, posts) for beams and girders in place and secured.
Fireplace Inspection – Where a fireplace(s) will be installed in a building, this inspection must take place while combustible clearances can be inspected. This must be before the interior is insulated and sheet rocked, but may be after the fireplace is finished. This includes all types of fireplaces, i.e. masonry, prefab, and ventless. NOTE: A separate mechanical permit is required for gas fireplace appliances.
Sheathing Inspection - All structural lumber must be grade marked and shear panel installation completed including nailing and tie downs. All framing and connections must be complete prior to covering with concealing materials. Structures with fire walls, fire barriers, and fire rated assemblies will have additional inspections as required by the inspector as construction progresses. Contact the Office of the University Building Official for details specific to the project.
Frame and Masonry Inspection - This inspection will be conducted after the roof, all framing fire-stopping, blocking, and bracing is in place, and the sub-flooring has been installed. Do not install insulation before the framing inspection is approved. The building should be “weathered in” including windows, doors, and roof shingles for this inspection. Structures with fire walls, fire barriers, and fire rated assemblies will have additional inspections as required by the inspector as construction progresses. Contact the Office of the University Building Official for details specific to the project.
Trade Rough-Ins - This inspects the rough in for plumbing, electrical, and mechanical systems prior to being covered or concealed. NOTE: It is necessary to request or schedule the trade rough-ins. All of the trade rough-ins will be conducted on the day the general contractor requests the framing inspection.
Insulation Inspection - This inspection will be conducted when all required insulation has been installed. In the event that the contractor intends to use blown insulation in the ceilings, that portion of this inspection may be delayed until and during the final inspection. Exception: Insulation between slabs and exterior walls will be inspected during the foundation inspection.
Final Inspection - This inspection will be conducted after the building has been completed and is ready for occupancy. This inspection will not be made until all required electrical, plumbing, and mechanical final inspections have been made and the work approved. A Certificate of Use and Occupancy is issued only after completion of this inspection. The structure may not be used or occupied in whole or part until issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy. The disturbed area must be stabilized or the required erosion control measures must be in good condition.
Some projects may require Special Inspections and additional inspections by the Fire Marshal or Health Department. When in doubt, call the Office of the University Building Official prior to beginning the work.
Contact the Office of the University Building Official at 540-231-5534, come by the office in Suite 71 in the Sterrett Facilities Complex, or by email. Inspections should be scheduled at least 24 hours prior.
The Office of the University Building Official is located in Suite 71 Sterrett Facilities Complex, 230 Sterrett Drive, Blacksburg, VA.
Based on the 2012 Edition of the International Plumbing Code (IPC) as adopted by the 2012 VUSBC, the plumbing code governs all new work. The code commentary notes that “new work” includes alteration, addition, renovation, and repair work being done on an existing plumbing system. Therefore the only plumbing activities that are exempt are drain cleaning or rodding and the repair or replacement of faucets, fill valves, flush meters, and similar trim and fittings. Any plumbing work that results in the alteration or disassembly of existing drain, waste, vent, and water distribution piping will require a permit. Additionally, any plumbing work that involves the alteration of a plumbing fixture will require a permit.
All sources of potable water must be protected from any other fluids being pulled back into the supply. Normally there is an air gap such as the gap between the faucet and the sink. Water within a sink cannot flow up-hill. However, if there is a hose attached that can lay in the sink, in a bucket, or on the ground, it is possible for contamination. A backflow preventer is a device that will prevent fluids from running backward through a valve or connector. Every connection to a potable water source must have an air gap or a backflow prevention device.
Contact the Office of the University Building Official at 540-231-4678.