New State Building Code – May 1
The Department of Safety & Professional Services has announced that the updated Wisconsin Commercial Building Code will become effective on May 1, 2018. For the most part, the updated state code incorporates the 2015 editions of the ICC model building codes. However, the new code modifies the 2015 International Energy Efficiency Conservation Code requirements to maintain 2009 IECC standards related to building envelope insulation, mechanical systems, system commissioning and high-efficiency lighting. In addition, the new code package reflects the Attorney General opinion that DSPS cannot enforce automatic fire sprinkler requirements for multifamily dwellings with fewer than 20 units. Wisconsin Commercial Building Code update package
Shorter Statute of Repose
The Governor has signed into law tort reform legislation with provisions that shortens Wisconsin’s statute of repose for improvements to real property. This statute of repose, in section 893.89 of the Wisconsin Statutes, limits the long tail of liability for architects and others involved in the design and construction of building projects by barring legal action after seven years from the date of substantial completion. The new law, which became effective on April 5, 2018, amends the previous statute of repose enacted in 1994 that barred legal action after ten years. Similar to prior law, special provisions are included for damages occurring during the final three years of the exposure period. A previous six-year statute of repose was ruled unconstitutional in 1989, exposing architects to never-ending liability. AIA Wisconsin led a successful multi-year campaign to restore the statute of repose for architects, professional engineers, contractors, material suppliers, owners and other involved in improvements to real property. The legislation was signed into law as 2017 Wisconsin Act 235.
State Building Program – Streamlining & Architect Selection
Legislation to increase dollar thresholds for the state building program and establish statutory provisions for the selection of architects based on qualifications has been signed into law by the Governor as 2017 Wisconsin Act 237. AIA Wisconsin worked with members of the State Building Commission and representatives of the UW System and AGC of Wisconsin to support this legislation that streamlines the state building process by adjusting various dollar thresholds to reflect modern construction costs.
State Historic Tax Credits
AIA Wisconsin supported proposal to increase the limit on state historic tax credit awards from $500,000 to $3.5 million per parcel. This legislation, 2017 Senate Bill 668, was approved overwhelmingly by both the Assembly and Senate. The Governor is expected to sign it into law later this month.