Building Rapport with DSPS

AIA Wisconsin members met with DSPS Assistant Deputy Secretary Kirsten Reader on November 9, 2017, to discuss status of updated building code package, occupational license study and plan review process.

Building Code

The commercial building code update package remains in limbo, awaiting an opinion from the Attorney General about the department’s authority to require fire sprinklers in multifamily dwellings with 20 or fewer units.

Once DSPS receives the Attorney General opinion, the department will adjust recommended code update proposal as necessary and submit the recommendation for legislative review.

This review could take 30 – 60 days depending on whether legislative committee schedules a public hearing.

DSPS doesn’t know when it may receive the AG opinion, what adjustments may be necessary or how long the legislative review process may take.

AIA Wisconsin members talked about option of requesting a variance to use newer IBC provisions and whether a reduced fee would apply.

Following the meeting, DSPS confirmed that architects can submit a petition for variance requesting the use of the 2015 ICC codes with Wisconsin amendments (as issued for public hearings), with such a petition recognized as non-precedent setting and eligible for a lesser fee as allowed by SPS 302.

License Study

Regarding the occupational licensing study included in the state budget, DSPS has not started this process because of pending legislation that would replace the study by DSPS with a study by an appointed Occupational License Review Council (SB 288).

The study will include licenses issued by other state agencies in addition to DSPS, involving more than 240 occupations and professions.

The AIA Wisconsin delegation was assured that the process would be open and transparent, with notification when DSPS will be looking at the licensure of architects.

Plan Review

A recent proposal (SB 534) to create statutory authority for DSPS to delegate plan review authority to certified municipalities was discussed. Such delegation currently is done by administrative rule.

Under the proposal, DSPS also would establish requirements for municipalities to renew their certifications every five years, with the goal to improve the consistency and quality of local plan review.

The effectiveness of DSPS initiatives to streamline the plan review process and improve the quality of plan submittals also was reviewed.

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