Building Rehabilitation Code Act

Summary: The Building Rehabilitation Code Act creates building standards that encourage the renovation and repair of existing structures.


This Act shall be called the “Building Rehabilitation Code Act.”


(A) FINDINGS—The [legislature/council/commission] finds that:

1. While new residential and commercial development consumes agricultural land, forests and other undeveloped land, thousands of existing buildings in our communities are not being fully utilized or are abandoned.

2. The rehabilitation of existing buildings is often hampered by inflexible building codes.

3. The state should model its rehabilitation code after the Nationally Applicable Recommended Rehabilitation Provisions sponsored and published by by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

(B) PURPOSE—This law is enacted to revitalize urban areas, preserve the environment, enhance the economic vitality of the [state/city/county], and protect public health, safety and welfare.


After section XXX, the following new section XXX shall be inserted:

(A) DEFINITIONS—In this section:

1. “Addition” means an increase in building area, aggregate floor area, height, or number of stories of a building or structure.

2. “BRC” means the [State/City/County] Building Rehabilitation Code.

3. “Change of occupancy” means a change in the purpose or level of activity within a structure that involves a change in application of the requirements of the local building code.

4. “Construction permit application” means any application made to a local jurisdiction for a permit or other government approval for a rehabilitation project.

5. “Department” means the Department of [Housing and Community Development].

6. “Existing building” means any building or structure that was erected and occupied or issued a certificate of occupancy at least one year before a construction permit application for that building or structure was made to a local jurisdiction.

7. “Local jurisdiction” means any county, city or municipality in [State].

8. “Modification” means the:

a. Reconfiguration of any space;

b. Addition or elimination of any door or window;

c. Reconfiguration or extension of any system; or

d. Installation of any additional equipment.

9. “Reconstruction” means:

a. The reconfiguration of a space that affects an exit or element of the egress access shared by more than a single occupant;

b. The reconfiguration of space such that the work area is not permitted to be occupied because existing means of egress and fire protection systems, or their equivalent, are not in place or continuously maintained; or

c. Extensive modifications.

10. “Rehabilitation project” means any construction work undertaken in an existing building that includes repair, renovation, modification, reconstruction, change of occupancy, or addition.

11. “Renovation” means the change, strengthening or addition of load bearing elements; or refinishing, replacement, bracing, strengthening, upgrading or extensive repair of existing materials, elements, components, equipment or fixtures. “Renovation” does not include reconfiguration of space or interior and exterior painting.

12. “Repair” means the patching, restoration or minor replacement of materials, elements, components, equipment or fixtures for the purposes of maintaining these materials, elements, components, equipment or fixtures in good or sound condition.


1. The Department, in cooperation with the Building Rehabilitation Code Advisory Council, the Department of [Licensing and Regulation], and the State Fire Marshal, shall adopt by regulation the [State] Building Rehabilitation Code. The BRC shall be modeled on the nationally applicable recommended rehabilitation provisions developed by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

2. The purpose of the Building Rehabilitation Code is to encourage and facilitate the rehabilitation of existing buildings by reducing the costs and constraints on rehabilitation resulting from existing procedures and standards.

3. As provided under the [State Administrative Procedure Act], the Department shall:

a. Submit to the Joint Committee on [Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review] the proposed regulations to adopt the BRC by January 1, 20XX; and

b. Adopt the BRC as soon as possible thereafter.

4. The Department, in cooperation with the Building Rehabilitation Code Advisory Council, shall review the BRC and adopt any necessary or desirable revisions at least every three years.

5. Except as otherwise permitted in this title, and notwithstanding any relevant provisions of existing state building codes, mechanical codes, plumbing codes, fire prevention codes, and electrical codes adopted thereunder, the BRC shall apply to all rehabilitation projects for which a construction permit application is received by a local jurisdiction or Planning Commission after adoption of the BRC.

6. By February 1, 20XX:

a. The Department of [Licensing and Regulation], the State Board of [Heating, Ventilation, Air-Conditioning, and Refrigeration Contractors], the State Board of [Plumbing], and the Board of [Boiler Rules] shall submit proposed changes to their regulations to make the [Mechanical Code, the Plumbing Code, the Boiler Safety Code, and the Elevator Code] consistent with the BRC;

b. The [State Police] and State [Fire Prevention Commission] shall submit proposed changes to their regulations to make the [State Fire Prevention Code] consistent with the BRC; and

c. The Department shall submit proposed changes to its regulations to make the [Building Performance Standards, the Safety Glazing Code, the Energy Code, and the Accessibility Code] consistent with the BRC.

7. A local jurisdiction may adopt local amendments to the BRC that apply only to the local jurisdiction.

8. Only a local jurisdiction that does not amend the BRC shall be eligible for any funding appropriated in conjunction with this chapter.


1. The BRC shall, at a minimum:

a. Maintain a level of safety consistent with existing codes, and provide for multiple categories of work with multiple compliance standards;

b. Be enforceable by local officials using existing enforcement procedures;

c. Apply to repair, renovation, modification, reconstruction, change of occupancy, or addition to an existing building;

d. Provide an expedited review process for proposed amendments to the BRC submitted by a local government or an organization that represents local governments; and

e. Contain provisions that provide an opportunity for a person proposing a complex rehabilitation project involving multiple codes, prior to the submission of a construction permit application, to meet with local officials or their designees responsible for permit approval and enforcement in construction related laws and regulations that may be applicable to the rehabilitation project.

2. The meeting provided under subsection 1(e) of this subsection shall, to the extent possible, include the officials responsible for permit approval and enforcement in the following areas, as may be applicable to the rehabilitation project: [building code; mechanical code; plumbing code; electrical code; fire prevention code; boiler safety code; energy code; elevator code; and local historic preservation ordinances].

3. The purpose of the meeting provided for under subsection 1(e) of this section shall be to anticipate and expedite the resolution of problems a complex rehabilitation project may have in complying with the applicable laws and regulations and the BRC.


1. There shall be a [State] Building Rehabilitation Code Advisory Council comprised of 28 members as follows:

a. The Secretary of [Housing and Community Development] or designee;

b. The Secretary of [Licensing and Regulation] or designee;

c. The State Fire Marshal or designee;

d. The State [Historic Preservation Officer] or designee;

e. The Director of the [Governor’s Office for Individuals with Disabilities] or designee;

f. The Director of the [Department of the Environment] or designee; and

g. Twenty-two members appointed by the Governor, including a representative of the [State Fire Prevention Commission]; four representatives of the building trades who are directly involved in or have experience in code setting or enforcement, including plumbers, electricians, heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration contractors, and boiler operators; two architects whose practice involves a significant portion of rehabilitation projects; a professional construction engineer; two contractors specializing in rehabilitation construction; two representatives of county government; two representatives of municipal government; two building code officials serving local government; a commercial or industrial building owner or developer; a multifamily building owner or developer; two local fire officials; and two members of the general public.

2. From among the members of the Council, the Governor shall designate a chairman. The composition of the Council should reflect the race, gender and geographic diversity of the population of the State.

3. The term of an appointed member is four years. The terms of appointed members shall be staggered. The Governor shall specify five appointed members to serve a first term of one year; five appointed members to serve a first term of two years; six appointed members to serve a first term of three years; and six appointed members to serve a first term of four years.

4. At the end of a term, a member continues to serve until a qualified successor is appointed. A member who is appointed after a term has begun serves only for the rest of the term and until a successor is appointed and qualifies. An appointed member may serve no more than two terms.

5. A member shall serve without compensation and shall be reimbursed for expenses in accordance with the [Standard State Travel Regulations].

6. The Council shall:

a. Advise the Department on the development, adoption and revisions to the BRC;

b. Provide technical advice on the interpretation of the BRC to property owners, design professionals, contractors, local jurisdiction code officials, and local jurisdiction code appeal boards;

c. To the extent possible, develop the BRC to avoid increased costs to local jurisdictions arising from implementation of the BRC;

d. To the extent provided in the State budget, provide training on the BRC for code officials and other public and private construction-related professionals.

7. The Council shall have an Executive Director, appointed by the Secretary of [Housing and Community Development]. The Executive Director shall be a special appointee in the [State Personnel Management System].


This Act does not supersede the planning, zoning or subdivision authority of local jurisdictions.


The provisions of this Act shall be severable, and if any phrase, clause, sentence or provision is declared to be invalid or is preempted by federal law or regulation, the validity of the remainder of this Act shall not be affected thereby.


This Act shall take effect on July 1, 20XX.