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Building Codes

Depending on a job’s location, permitting requirements for racking and building attachments vary. It can be done one way in one city, and the next town over requires something different. No matter what you submit, the building department comes back with questions. What can be done about this? Is there any sort of state or national permitting requirement in the works?
                                                                        
– Charles Vinton, General Manager
                                                                                     Superior Equipment Corp. (Delray Beach, FL)

John Cosgrove: Permitting has become a major issue for many material handling dealers. Here in the East, the pendulum has swung from hardly ever needing permits to where almost every job requires one. Each town or city has different requirements, but most require stamped drawings from a professional engineer. The best way to find out what’s required is to review the job with the building inspector. It’s best to find out what they require before you try to install the job rather than afterward. Sometimes they will issue permits and then fail you during the final inspection based on their interpretation of the code. If the building inspector asks for something unusual, I go back to the customer and ask what they want us to do. Usually the customer says to comply, because they feel they can’t fight City Hall.

It would be a lot easier if there were one standard code governing material handling systems, but each locality wants to keep the home rule. Even the IBC, UBC or BOCA codes are interpreted differently by each jurisdiction. I have found that the best person to help you get through permitting issues is a good P.E. with knowledge of the codes and material handling systems.

Jack Phelan: You have described the problem accurately. Each building department can interpret the codes as they see fit to protect the employees. Become familiar with the codes as they relate to your product offering.

The state of Florida does have a state building code that includes a section for counties that are in the coastal area, which have a different set of rules. On most significant projects, we talk to the building department for the site of the project in advance of quoting so we get familiar with their rules. We have found that when working on a system, we need to touch base with the building department’s mechanical, electrical and fire safety departments. This helps reduce the number of questions after submittals have been reviewed.

Ken Shaw: We really do not have any control over what any municipality wants to require in this regard. There has been some work done to try to move toward one national standard but I am not sure if the federal government can dictate to state or local municipalities on this issue. Some things stay within the control of the state/local municipality. The one national standard is the IBC code, but unfortunately ultimately all codes are interpreted on the local level.

Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association

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