The Department of Community Affairs (DCA) this week issued a Notice of Rule Waiver/Modification/Suspension Pursuant to Executive Order No. 103, which temporarily relaxes certain provisions of Uniform Construction Code (UCC). In this notice, the DCA announces temporary rule changes to provision of the UCC concerning specifically; Minor Work (N.J.A.C. 5:23-2.17A), Inspections (N.J.A.C. 5:23-2.18), and Certificate requirements (N.J.A.C. 5:23-2.23.) The purpose of the temporary rule changes is to ensure the continuity of construction without a detriment to the public welfare during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In conjunction with this Notice, the DCA also issued a Memo providing guidance to construction offices regarding the implementation of the temporary rule changes. The Memo offers differing operational guidance for construction offices based on whether or not the office is open during the COVID-19 pandemic. You should review this operational guidance with the temporary rule changes in mind to determine the safest and most efficient way for your construction officials to perform their job during this time.
The temporary rule changes became effective March 25, 2020, and will expire upon the termination of Executive Order No. 103. Below you will find an explanation of the temporary rule changes:
N.J.A.C. 5:23-2.17A(d) generally requires inspections for minor work, including inspections of replaced residential heaters, air conditioners, and/or water heaters, to occur within three business days of the request for inspection. Because of the need for social distancing and the unavailability of inspectors due to the closure of Local Enforcement Agencies (i.e. municipal construction offices) this three-day requirement may be impossible to meet. Therefore the DCA has relaxed the time frame for such inspection to occur within 30 days from the termination of Executive Order No. 103.
N.J.A.C. 5:23-2.18, generally requires construction officials to perform a preliminary inspection, inspections during the progress of work, and a final inspection. Again, because of the need for social distancing and the unavailability of inspectors due to the closure of Local Enforcement Agencies (i.e. municipal construction offices) construction officials may be unable to perform these inspections.
In light of this, notwithstanding emergency work in accordance with N.J.A.C. 5:23-2.14(b)(3), if a permit was issued prior to closure of a construction office and inspections have been deferred then construction officials shall perform a Certificate of Continued Occupancy (CCO) inspection upon the office reopening. In these circumstances, documentation for a CCO inspection shall, at a minimum, include the following:
- A report describing the work that was completed within the time that no inspections were available;
- The design professional or firm associated with the project should oversee, approve, and document the portions of the project where no inspections were performed;
- Licensed/registered tradesmen should document the process of their work in accordance with the inspection procedures of the UCC; and
- Before, during, and after pictures and/or videos shall be included in the documentation.
In some circumstances where a building has never been issued a CCO, it may be necessary for an applicant to acquire a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy (TCO) from the DCA, instead of the CCO from the municipal construction official. In this situation a TCO would be issued by the DCA and once the municipal construction office reopens the building would need to be inspected for a Certificate of Occupancy (CO). In these situations, although a CO inspection is typically required under the UCC to be performed within three business days the DCA’s temporary rules relax this requirement to allow inspection within 90 days from the termination of Executive Order No. 103.
N.J.A.C. 5:23-2.23(e), provides that CCO’s shall be issued upon request of the owner of a building or structure. The temporary rule change issued by the DCA provides that, if a local enforcing agency determines that a CCO is necessary to ensure that construction work is properly documented and that future projects within the building are not cited for violations resulting from work perform without permits or inspections, then the local enforcing agency may on its own perform a CCO inspection.
Contact: Frank Marshall, Esq., League Associate General Counsel, FMarshall@njlm.org or 609-695-3481 x. 137.