PA UCC Review & Advisory Committee Begins Work on 2012 Building Codes

The Uniform Construction Code Review and Advisory Council (the “Council”) was established by Act 106 of 2008.  Appointed by the governor, the 19-member Council is drawn from various construction industry trades and professions and local government.  The Council is charged with making recommendations to the governor, the General Assembly and the Department of Labor & Industry regarding proposed changes to Act 45, the Pennsylvania Construction Code Act, and reviewing the latest triennial code revisions issued by the International Code Council (ICC) contained in the International Codes enforceable under the Uniform Construction Code.

With the release of 2012’s triennial ICC code revisions, the Council must determine which revisions they should adopt, if any, as part of the Uniform Construction Code.

Act 1 of 2011 made changes to the Council and the code adoption process including: (1) the Council is required to submit a report to the secretary of Labor & Industry within 12 months following publication of the latest triennial codes specifying each code revision that is to be adopted as part of the Uniform Construction Code; (2) public hearings must be held around the commonwealth; and (3) require a two-thirds vote of Council members to approve recommended code revisions.


The Council must also apply the following criteria when reviewing the merits of code revisions:

  1. The provision’s effect on the public’s health, safety and welfare;
  2. The provision’s economic and financial effect; and
  3. The provision’s technical feasibility.

The general public may request the Council address a particular subject or issue related to the PA Uniform Construction Code that is within the purview of the Council.  Three public hearings have been scheduled between September and November 2012.  Furthermore, to facilitate this review the Council has developed the “2012 Code Change Recommendation Formwhich must be completed by any person recommending that a specific code change be adopted or not adopted.  Completed recommendation forms must be received by the Council no later than December 31, 2011.


The Council is expected to determine controversial versus non-controversial code changes and vote for the adoption of the non-controversial as a group at its first meeting next year, then vote on controversial changes individually.  Proponents and opponents of a code change will be given the opportunity to provide testimony.


The final report of recommended code changes is expected be approved by Council members and presented to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry in July 2012.

What do you do if your property is condemned?

This image is credited to the Master isolated images portfolio on

I am not talking about a property that is so run-down that the government asks you to board up or tear down a building.  I am talking about condemnation as in the government's right to take private property for a public purpose. 

Did you know that if your property has been taken by the government, whether it be a total taking of your entire property in fee, or whether it be for an easement, you are entitled to just compensation. 

What is "just compensation"?  Just compensation is the difference between the fair market value of the condemnee’s entire property interest immediately before the condemnation and and the fair market value of the property interest remaining immediately after the condemnation and as affected by the condemnation.  Fair market value is the price which would be agreed to by a willing and informed seller and buyer, considering the following factors: 

  • present use of the property and its value for that use; 
  • highest and best reasonably available use of the property and its value for that use;
  • machinery, equipment and fixtures forming part of the real estate taken; and
  • any other factors as to which evidence may be offered. 

Once the condemning authority provides an offer of just compensation to the condemnee, the condemnee may accept that offer without jeopardizing its right to file a petition for a board of view to determine whether the just compensation paid was sufficient. 

A condemnee has five (5) years from the filing of the Declaration of Taking to decide whether to file a petition for a board of view to determine just compensation.  If your property was taken by a governmental agency, it may not be too late to determine whether just compensation was received.



International Green Construction Code



 This photo belongs to wonderlane and is licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons License.

The International Code Council is expected to release the International Green Construction Code (IGCC) in March 2012.  The following are some bullet points on IGCC taken from the Synopsis of Public Version 2.0, which was issued in November 2010:

·         Applicable to new construction, as well as alterations and additions to existing buildings.

·         Intended to be adopted by jurisdictions on a mandatory basis.

·         Incorporates features which allow jurisdictions to customize requirements to suit local geographical conditions and environmental priorities and agendas.

·         Incorporates a relatively small number of “project electives”, a minimum number of which must be selected by the owner or design professional and implemented on each project, as a means to:

o        Encourage practices which are difficult to mandate; and

o        Encourage higher performance buildings (buildings with lower environmental impact which exceed the minimum requirements of the IGCC).


The Maryland legislature has already passed House Bill 972, adopting the IGCC and making Maryland the first state in the country to authorize use of the IGCC for private and public construction.  It will be interesting to see whether the Pennsylvania legislature follows suit.