Wisconsin Department of Commerce Newsletter
June 2006
Safe Buildings Start at the Local Level

Over 30 years have passed since the Division of Safety and Buildings (S & B), under the Department of Industry Labor and Human Relations (DILHR), recognized that municipalities could provide owners, designers and contractors with a single source of plan review and inspection service through their own building inspection departments. By certifying local building officials as agents of the State of Wisconsin, plan review and inspection could be provided by local officials resulting in timely service without duplication of efforts.

The role of an agent under the "certified municipality" definition gave local officials the opportunity to act as not only the building authority under municipal ordinance but also the authority of state review and inspection of commercial buildings.

Today, under the Department of Commerce (Commerce), the division of Safety and Buildings continues to recognize the important role that our agents can play in enforcing the state building code for commercial projects located in those agent municipalities.

Another step was taken when second class cities and appointed agent delegations were made available to all municipalities that wanted to provide this service to projects located within their jurisdiction. This provided all municipalities the opportunity to take on a variety of review and inspection opportunities.

Projects located within certified or agent municipalities are regulated by the municipal building department for both the state building code as well as municipal ordinance by the municipal inspector. When authorized as an agent of the state, the local official is recognized as the state plan reviewer and inspector, as well as the municipal authority. This gives municipalities the opportunity to provide local projects a single source when dealing with the complexities that come with commercial development. Limited plan review and inspection, or inspection of all commercial projects, as well as enforcement of municipal ordinance, remains with the authority of the local official.

Through delegation of qualified municipal agents and the auditing of those agents, Commerce looks forward to maintaining compliant and timely service to commercial projects in the state. Municipalities which are not certified will continue to rely on the services of Commerce to provide plan review as well as inspection specific to the state building code. In those communities, the local official enforces only the municipal ordinance.

Commercial plan review and approval remains a service of the state or its agents. Once plans have been reviewed and conditionally approved, building permits as well as certificates of occupancy, can be issued by the local building official. Finally, inspections will be based on state or agent delegation.

To inquire about specific information regarding agent status of any municipalities located in Wisconsin, please visit the Department of Commerce Division of Safety and Buildings web site or call Henry Kosarzycki at 608-212-0138.

-- Henry Kosarzycki

The newsletter is issued electronically every other month.

Please send comments or questions to Barbro McGinn, editor.

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