In November of 1999, then Governor Tom Ridge signed Act 45, the Pennsylvania Construction Code Act which established the Uniform Construction Code (UCC) throughout Pennsylvania. The UCC will provide uniform standards for new construction and renovations around the state. Commercial buildings will comply with the International Building Code (IBC); residential (one- and two-family) construction will comply with the International Residential Code (IRC). The code applies to almost all buildings, excluding manufactured and industrialized housing (which are covered by other laws), agricultural buildings, and certain utility and miscellaneous buildings.
Under Act 45, the Uniform Construction Code will supercede and preempt all building codes, after taking effect on April 9, 2004. Act 45 also requires any local government wishing to administer and enforce the UCC to pass an ordinance adopting the UCC (consisting of most of the codes issued by International Code Council) as the local building code.
Contractors and homeowners should note that banks and other lending institutions will most likely require proof that the structure was built according to the code. They will want to see a certificate of occupancy proving that the code standards were followed and the required five inspections were completed before approving their final payment to the contractor.
Act 45 does allow for the retention of special local code requirements which differ from standards of the UCC, as long as two conditions are met. The provisions must be in an ordinance enacted prior to July 1, 1999, and they must at least meet or exceed the standard set in the UCC.
In dealing with special local code requirements, municipalities should be aware of the following:
If a municipality has a single ordinance that adopted its general building code and some special code provisions, all of these requirements will become null and void, once the UCC regulations take effect. In this case, the local government will have to pass a new ordinance adopting both the UCC and these special requirements.
However, if the special requirements were contained in a separate, stand-alone ordinance adopted prior to July 1, 1999, that ordinance will not be repealed, and the enforcing municipality would only have to pass a new ordinance adopting the UCC.
Note that, even if this pre-July 1, 1999 ordinance has to be re-enacted, it will not be subject to the challenge provisions of Act 45 (which relate to new local code requirements which are proposed for adoption after the UCC regulations take effect).
(The above information is excerpted from the PA Council on Independent Living document: UCC Special Fact Sheet and the PA Labor and Industry website page: Adopting the Required Ordinance (no longer published)