The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled on whether municipalities that opt to enforce the Pennsylvania Construction Code Act (“Act”) may designate one entity to administer, enforce, and conduct all plan review and inspections mandated by the Act to exclusion of other code officials.
Under the Act, municipalities were required to adopt the Uniform Construction Code as a municipal building code and select from several options regarding the administration and enforcement of the Act. Among the administrative options available to municipalities was retaining a construction code official or third-party agency to act on behalf of the municipality for administration and enforcement of the Act. Questions arose as to whether a municipality who selected this option could refuse to accept inspections for Act compliance purposes performed by construction code officials not working for or through the contracted-with third party agency. Litigation followed.
The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case and found the question to be purely an issue of statutory construction. The Supreme Court concluded that the plain language of the Act permits municipalities to employ a third-party agency to conduct all Act compliance inspections to the exclusion of other construction code officials. The Supreme Court further acknowledged that allowing builders to handpick their inspectors and requiring municipalities to accept the inspections without questions could result in safety issues. See Allegheny Inspection Service, Inc. v. North Union Township, — A.2d –, 2009 WL 417925 (Pa. 2009).
For questions regarding how this decision may affect your municipality’s inspection process or your development’s approval process, please contact our office.l