Latest News

BBS Updates Ohio Building, Plumbing and Mechanical Codes on 2015 I-Codes

At its meeting on May 26, 2017, the Board of Building Standards adopted updates to the Ohio Building, Plumbing and Mechanical Codes based on 2015 I-Codes effective November 1, 2017.

The Board initiated the rule change process in October 2016 and the rules have been available in draft form on the Board’s website.  The final adopted rules with summaries can be found at the following links:

Ohio Building Code (OBC) Rules:

Ohio Plumbing Code (OPC) Rules:

Ohio Mechanical Code (OMC) Rules:

Any non-residential project submitted to a building department on or after November 1, 2017 shall comply with the above rules.  Any non-residential project submitted before November 1, 2017 shall comply with the current Ohio Building, Plumbing & Mechanical Codes based on the 2009 I-Codes as amended.  These rules can be found here:

The Residential Code of Ohio (RCO) which regulates 1-, 2- & 3- Family dwellings is not affected by these code updates.  The RCO remains based on the 2009 International Residential Code (IRC) as amended.  The Residential Construction Advisory Committee and the Board continue to review newer editions of the IRC for possible adoption at a later date.

If you have questions related to these amendments, please contact the Board Office at (614) 644-2613 or

Ohio’s BBS Adopts 2017 OBC Effective Nov. 1

Ohio’s Board of Building Standards has adopted the 2017 OBC with an effective date of November 1.  A combined update of the 2012 and 2015 editions of the IBC, along with Ohio amendments, the new code includes significant improvements to health care (aligning much more closely with the 2000 Life SafetyCode), as well as an updated version of Chapter 34.  Ohio is not adopting the IEBC.

Study Finds Project Labor Agreements Increase School Building Costs

Associated Builders and Contractors of Ohio (ABC) teamed up with the Boston-based Beacon Hill Institute on Thursday to release a study finding that project labor agreements add significantly to the cost of school construction projects.

ABC’s Bryan Williams, a former state legislator, said the report bolsters his organization’s position that neutrality should be codified for all state and local public works construction so project labor agreements can neither be required nor forbidden for bidding on government contracts.

David Tuerck, president of the Boston-based think tank, said the study analyzed 88 Ohio school construction projects from 2003 onward, 15 of which had project labor agreements.

Tuerck said in developing the study Beacon Hill accounted for a variety of variables that can affect total project cost, such as the inclusion of a gym or theater or whether a building is to house an elementary or high school. The study concluded a project labor agreement increases final construction costs by $23.12 per square foot, measured in 2016 prices, a 13.12 percent increase over average construction costs of $176.23 per square foot.
That cost difference amounts to more than $2 million for a 100,000-square-foot building, Tuerck said.

“These results are statistically significant,” he said.

Tuerck and Williams said the results are logical given the effect project labor agreements can have on preventing or dissuading companies from bidding on projects, thus hindering competition.

“There are millions of dollars that went into needless cost increases … that could have gone into the cost of a structure or enhancing the quality of the structure for the community that’s using those,” Williams said.

Tuerck said the study is consistent with separate analyses of the use of project labor agreements in other states.

The Ohio Supreme Court struck down a 1999 law restricting the use of project labor agreements. Under the Strickland administration, the Ohio School Facilities Commission issued a policy allowing local boards of education to require project labor agreements on their construction projects. The Kasich administration withdrew that policy.

The Beacon Hill report is available here.

Legislative Action Alert: Ohio House Puts QBS In Jeopardy: Contact your Senator Today!

Qualification Based Selection (QBS) of architects is in jeopardy from an amendment that the House of Representatives added to the state’s Budget Bill, Sub. HB 49.  Please contact your state Senator today asking that the Senate remove this amendment.

In 2012-2013, comprehensive construction reform provided the most significant change to Ohio’s public construction law in more than 130 years.  One positive result of this collaboration between industry and government was the centralization of construction authority into OFCC, creating consistency and transparency in Ohio’s public construction projects.

This House amendment to the state’s Budget Bill, Sub. HB 49, takes a step backward by allowing for the establishment of a second construction authority in the Ohio Department of Administrative Services (DAS), causing confusion, inconsistency and the potential of significant legal entanglements.

The language would allow DAS to award its own design and construction contracts as “supplies” or “services” contracts under R.C. Chapter 125, thereby circumventing R.C. Chapter 153 construction law.  Using this language, DAS could authorize a private third-party administrator to bid and award construction contracts, without the transparency and fair processes required under ORC 153.  Further, DAS could use its cooperative purchasing authority to extend this same contract to all political subdivisions.  The state’s construction authority, OFCC, could not challenge these contracts since “a contract awarded by DAS takes precedence over the commission’s authority” according to the bill.

AIA Ohio Believes:
This language is not in the best interests of public construction in Ohio because:

·  It bypasses the competitive processes and protections of standard construction under ORC Chapter 153, including advertising, bonding, subcontractor protections, etc.;

·  It creates a path for all political subdivisions to avoid competitive bidding for construction;

·  It makes the award of construction contracts less transparent;

·  It breeds confusion and a sense of unfairness within the design and construction industry in Ohio;

·  It provides no legal recourse to challenge the appropriateness of a construction contract awarded by a non-construction agency (DAS).

The Ask:
AIA Ohio has uploaded the parts of Sub. HB 49 that include this language here.  Please ask your state Senator to remove the language that is shown Please ask your state Senator to remove the language that is shown highlighted in red boxes.

School Facilities Commission Approves Changes to Design Manual

The Ohio School Facilities Commission Thursday approved new changes to the commission’s design manual, including updates to regional cost factor sections and the transition of technical specifications to performance-based criteria.

Melanie Drerup, deputy chief of planning for the commission, said staff worked with consultants to make changes on the manual so that the commission would not have to annually update it to reflect changes in technical terms. She said they are purposefully moving away from technical specifications in the design manual and getting more to performance-based criteria that would examine what a district needs and how a contractor would work with the district on implementing those needs.

The commission also approved three new Classroom Facilities Assistance Program (CFAP) projects for Canal Winchester School District in Franklin County, Minister School District in Auglaize County and Toronto School District in Jefferson County. The districts have their local share in place, but may still need some work on the master plans for the districts.

According to commission Executive Director David Williamson, the commission still has 277 school districts remaining to be served. The commission has served 382 districts with projects at this point.

Sponsor Explains Need for Third Party Building Inspections (HB128)

The bill that would authorize third party building inspections, HB 128  received a sponsor’s hearing April 25 in the House Economic Development, Commerce and Labor Committee.

Rep. Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson) gave sponsor testimony on the legislation that she said would give a common sense solution to expanding the base of inspection to avoid costly delays. She said no matter how efficient and organized a construction company may be, if the inspections are delayed, it holds up progress on the project.

Under current law, the Board of Building Standards formulates and adopts rules governing the erection, construction, repair, alteration and maintenance of buildings, she said. The rules are incorporated into residential and non-residential codes. The board then certifies local building departments and the personnel of these departments as well as individuals, corporations and firms to approve plans and perform inspections. The building inspections currently must be performed by the local building department, she said, but if there are backlogs or personality conflicts, the lack of choice can cause unnecessary and expensive delays.

The bill would specify that inspections, performed by the building department having jurisdiction, must be performed within 24 hours of a request. The general contractor or owner of a building may request an independent inspection, and the Board of Building Standards shall provide a list, which it will maintain, of board-certified, third party, private inspectors and certified building departments from which the contractor may choose. The contractor/owner would still be responsible for inspection fees to the third party, and the local building department may still charge the general contractor/owner any standard fee customary for approval including administrative and filing fees. The third party inspector would be required to send a copy of the inspection results within 24 hours post-inspection to the local building department.

The bill also specifies that local building departments may contract with the division of industrial compliance to exercise enforcement authority, accept and approve plans/specifications and perform inspections for non-residential buildings. It provides for an expedited arbitration process in which a general contractor/owner may appeal inspection results.

During the hearing Rep. Lepore-Hagan asked if the bill would constitute a cut to local governments. Roegner said the bill does not address any funding. She noted that if a contractor or owner uses a third-party inspector, that local government can still charge application and other fees. Lepore-Hagan also said she is concerned that the bill would privatize government services. Roegner said the bill provides choice, and competition can only drive up quality. She also said the contractors could choose a building department from a neighboring jurisdiction.

Lepore-Hagan asked if a situation would be created where a friend of the contractor would do the inspection and be lenient. Roegner said the list of third party inspectors would be certified by the state and any wrong-doing could cause them to lose certification. She also said contractors could also have a situation like that under current law with a friend in the local building department. “I really do not believe that will be an issue,” she said.

Rep. West asked if local governments could farm out inspections under current law. Roegner said they can but a contractor could not do it independently. West also asked if Roegner had talked to local governments about the bill. The sponsor replied that she had talked to the Ohio Municipal League, who has some concerns, but has been at the table.

Rep. Arndt said the 24-hour deadline seems to be a tight period to complete the work. Roegner said she is drafting an amendment to address those issues so there won’t be a time squeeze. She said they want to be reasonable but also put into place best practices.

She told Rep. Kelly that she didn’t have any statistics on how often inspections are delayed or the cost of those delays, but she said it will be interesting to see what proponents have to say about the bill.

She told Rep. Stein that the bill is silent on penalties for violating the 24-hour rule.

She told Rep. Sheehy that she was approached about the issue by several construction companies and contractors. She said they are concerned about retaliation if they complain about lags in building inspections to the Board of Building Standards.

Township Building Code Bill Gets Hearing (SB43)

Pro and con testimony regarding SB43 was heard March 28 by the Senate Local Government Committee.  SB43 would enable limited home rule townships to adopt building codes regardless of any similar codes adopted by the county in which the township resides.

Testimony against SB43 was given by Brad Cole, managing director of research for the County Commissioners Association of Ohio (CCAO). Testimony in support of the bill was given by Vincent Squillace, executive vice president of the Ohio Home Builders Association (OHBA). Written proponent testimony was submitted by Andrew Glenn, a trustee for Springfield Township in Lucas County.

Cole said, “CCAO is concerned about the duplication of services … Encouraging townships to establish parallel building departments that compete against existing county building departments for the limited business of performing inspections and issuing building permits would appear to be contrary to the overall objective of achieving greater efficiency in local government services… Another potential issue is the consistency of services …”

Chairman Uecker pointed out that Hamilton County has a robust building department despite multiple municipalities with their own departments. Sen. Terhar said Hamilton County also contains charter townships. Cole admitted he had not reached out to all counties, and agreed to meet with Uecker to discuss CCAO’s concerns further.

Squillace said OHBA wants the bill to make clear that charter townships must have exactly the same standards and rules as the county building department. Uecker requested that he submit a written copy of his testimony.

Glen wrote, “We have a very business friendly approach in our township … The building department in Lucas County treats people exactly opposite from how they are treated in our office… Several cities and villages in Lucas County have exercised their option to get away from the Lucas County Building Department by either creating their own department, or contracting with another department for permitting and inspections within their jurisdictions. It makes perfect sense to give townships that same option… another benefit of SB43 would actually be to improve the level of customer service within the county building departments through competition.”

Board of Building Standards Proposed Code Revisions

The Ohio Board of Building Standards will convene for a public hearing in accordance with Chapter 119. of the Revised Code, at 10:00 A.M., Friday, April 14, 2017 in Hearing Room #1, at 6606 Tussing Road, Reynoldsburg, Ohio, 43068.  The purpose of the hearing is to solicit testimony on proposed actions taken on select rules of the Administrative Code, identified as Amendments Group XCIII (93) pursuant to Chapters 119., 3781., 3791., and 4104. of the Revised Code.

A synopsis of the proposed rule changes is attached.  The full text of the public hearing draft containing the proposed rules can be viewed on the Board’s website at the following link:

Due its size, it may take a few moments to download.

Please contact the Ohio Board of Building Standards at 614-644-2613 with any questions.

Ohio Architects Board Budget Hearing

The Ohio House Finance Committee took testimony March 7 regarding the Ohio Architect Board’s proposed budget.  John Rademacher, AIA, a member of the Ohio Architects Board and a past president, gave testimony on behalf of Amy Kobe, the director of the Ohio Architects Board and the Landscape Architects Board, who was unable to testify because she was also recovering from knee replacement surgery. Kobe submitted written testimony that Rademacher read.

In the FY18-19 biennium, the board projects total revenues of approximately $1.24 million. It has a FY18 of $576,916, a 5.2 percent increase over FY17 and $604,765 for FY19, for a total request of $1.18 million.

Rademacher noted a number of cost increases, including a 12 percent payroll increase from FY16 to FY18; an increase in rent by 10 percent, going from $14,000 in FY14 to an estimated $33,000 in FY19; the cost of eLicense increasing from $3,122 in FY17 to $18,771 beginning in FY19; and the cost of the FY18-19 audit going up to $12,300, compared to an FY12 cost of $6,500.

He said the board is thought of as one of the top architectural boards in the country, and is focused on customer service and making business easier to do in the state.