Wisconsin Department of Commerce Newsletter
December 2004

The Home Safety Act, on Task and on Schedule

The bidding for Uniform Dwelling Code (UDC) inspection work, for areas of Wisconsin that chose to have state UDC enforcement, is now closed. Staff of the Safety and Buildings Division have reviewed the bid submittals, contacted the bidders, and are nearing determination of which inspector/inspection agencies will be issuing permits and providing enforcement in what areas as of January 1, 2005.

So what happens after January 1, 2005? As of January 1, 2005 all municipal enforcement programs will be in place and ready to provide inspection services. This includes a local ordinance adopting the UDC and a letter from the Department of Commerce approving the adopted ordinance and a fully certified inspector (or inspectors) either hired or under contract. Municipalities that have not submitted an adopting ordinance and received approval from Commerce are considered to be under the state enforcement program. Municipalities that have not hired or contracted with a fully certified inspector (or inspectors) prior to January 1, 2005 will also be considered to be under the state enforcement program.

Governor Doyle signed the Home Safety Act into law with an effective date of December 18, 2003. Subsequent to this, the Governor signed Act 295, which allowed municipalities of less than 2500 population that passed a resolution of non-enforcement, the opportunity to continue until January 1, 2005. What had been accomplished by Act 295 was a delay in the effective date of the Home Safety Act, which gave municipalities additional time to prepare. It is important to note that Act 295 does not prohibit municipalities under its scope from enforcing the single and two family building codes. It merely gives them the option of delaying enforcement until no later than January 1, 2005.

Municipalities basically have three enforcement choices: provide UDC enforcement themselves, let the county provide UDC enforcement, or have the state provide UDC enforcement. Based on surveys that were sent out along with ordinances that have been received and approved, there are approximately 564 municipalities where the state will provide UDC enforcement. There are also 247 additional municipalities that indicated they would be providing enforcement as of January 1, 2005 for which we have not yet received ordinances for review and approval. It is estimated that there will be 3,000 to 4,500 additional new homes that contract inspectors will be responsible for, if those 247 municipalities do not provide enforcement.

In those areas that state-contracted inspectors will be providing enforcement, permits will be required for new home construction, not additions or alterations. It is important to stress that this does not prohibit municipalities from enforcing single and two family municipal ordinances or permits. New homes for which a Wisconsin (UDC) Administrative Uniform Building Permit has been issued prior to January 1, 2005 or have had their footing & foundation completed prior to January 1, 2005 would not need to obtain a permit and have inspections performed by an agency in those state contracted areas.

Those individuals and agencies contracted with the state will be contracted to perform inspections in a manner consistent with the provisions of Chapter Comm 20 through 25 of the Wisconsin Uniform Dwelling Code for all new site-built dwellings and installed manufactured dwellings. The responsibilities will not include alterations or additions to existing dwellings or the installation of manufactured (mobile) homes regulated by the federal government.
Wisconsin (UDC) Administrative Building Permits issued prior to January 1, 2005 as well as dwelling's where footing & foundations are completed within two years of permit issuance as well, are not included. The determination of what constitutes a dwelling will normally be made by the applicable local zoning agencies. In the absence of such a determination, structures of less than 100 square feet or fabric construction will not be considered dwellings for the purpose of this contract.

It is important to note that the inspector representing the state shall not enforce other municipal or county requirements in municipalities that they are responsible for UDC other than checking for sanitary permit requirements. Individuals and agencies performing inspections will maintain credentials as UDC-Construction, UDC-HVAC, UDC-Electrical and UDC-Plumbing inspectors.

If you have questions on the enforcement status of a specific municipality or need to find a registered UDC Inspection Agency, please check the Safety & Buildings website, commerce.wi.gov/SB. For questions on inspector certification or UDC Inspection Agency registration, please check the website or call (608) 261-8500. If you have other general questions, please e-mail your questions to udctech@commerce.state.wi.us, fax (608) 283-7409 or contact Jack Miller at (608) 785-9348 or Randy Mattison at (715) 634-8964. For information on Wisconsin 2003 Act 90, the Home Safety Act, and how it affects section 101.651, Stats., see the Revisor of Statutes website www.legis.state.wi.us/rsb.

- Henry Kosarzycki, A.I.A.

The newsletter is issued electronically every other month.

Please send comments or questions to Barbro McGinn, editor.

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