Wisconsin Department of Commerce Newsletter
September 2003
Building and Component Plan Review
Wisconsinís commitment to promoting safety in our built environment began with the promulgation of the nationís first building code in the country adopted in Wisconsin in 1914. The review of construction and remodeling plans for commercial buildings is the first step in that commitment to safety.

Building owners are ultimately responsible for code compliance. An owner typically will work with an architect or engineer who will not only help him or her realize the project, but will also develop a plan for the structure based on the requirements of the building codes. A Commerce plan examiner then evaluates that proposed design before capital is committed.

Plan review is based on the principles of compliance, clarity and communication. The reviewer seeks answers to the following questions:

  • How will the proposed structure be used?
  • Of what materials will it be constructed?
  • Do the various components---egress, energy, fire protection, and so forth---meet code?
  • Does the overall plan meet the minimum standards of the current commercial codes?
  • Does the plan communicate clearly with the construction manager?

After the plan is approved, a state or delegated building inspector will visit the construction site a number of times to ensure that the building is being constructed according to the plan. If the inspector finds deviations form the plan, he or she issues orders to ensure that any violations are corrected.

To ensure timely administration at the local level, Commerce delegates plan review and inspection duties to municipalities that request authority to perform these functions. Today Commerce recognizes over 150 agent municipalities administering codes at various levels. As with any project, from residential to commercial, early conversation with local and state regulators is a key to success. Pre-planning meetings, preliminary plan evaluation and research of state as well as local regulations result in savings of both time and capital. A local authority cannot issue construction permits until plans have been reviewed and conditionally approved for that project.

For more information on the plan review process, contact 608/266-3151 or http://www.commerce.state.wi.us/SB/SB-HomePage.html.

-- Henry Kosarzycki

The newsletter is issued electronically every other month.

Please send comments or questions to Barbro McGinn, editor.

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