Submitted by Stephen Beckman
City of Fernandina Beach Building Official
June 6, 2021
Editor’s Note: Stephen Beckman’s last day as the City of Fernandina Beach Building Inspector will be June 23. We wish Stephen well and thank him for his service to our city.
One of the most important parts of the Florida Building Code is the administration section which is found in Chapter 1 of the Florida Building Code, Building. Knowing and understanding this section will greatly help in getting your project properly designed, application and drawings put together and submitted, and inspected.
It is this chapter that explains how to administer the code for a Building Official. This administration section applies to all areas of the code and the process for applications, plans, what to include on the plans, who draws them, what has to be reviewed and inspected, as well as how these various activities have to be done. It is this section that tells a Building Official what they may do and what they must do. The language of May and Shall are quite important. The use of “May” gives a Building Official an option where as “shall” is understood as “must.” The Florida Building Code Code is State Law, adopted in Florida Statute 553.
Of all the sections of the Building Code, this one tells you what needs permits, how to apply for permits, what to submit for permits and what will get reviewed and inspected. Understanding this section will make the whole Building permitting process much easier to manage.
The remainder of the codes gets into the details of what is needed for each area, such as structure, mechanical, gas, plumbing, and electric.
As you go through this chapter, you find the intent spelled out on Section 101.3 and how the Florida Building code is applied in Section 102. Sections 103 and 104 which speak to responsibilities of the Building Official are reserved and often spelled out in local municipalities’ ordinances.
An important part of Section 104 which is not reserved, 104.11 Alternative Materials, Design and methods of construction and equipment, outlines how a Building official can address things that may not be covered in the codes which may be acceptable alternative ways of achieving compliance and is often used. This second can be used to address unique problems, or simply new materials not in existence at the time the code was written.
- Section 105, Permits, discusses when they are required, what work is exempt, emergency repairs, minor repairs, application for permit, action on the application, time limits of the applications, insurance necessary, conditions of the permit, how to close a permit, denial and revocation of permits, placements of permit, and how inspection of a property not impacted by construction can be inspected.
Section 106 discusses that floor and roof loads be posted in buildings.
- Section 107 on Submittal documents is a very important section to understand in getting a permit application approved, as this section specifically details what is required to be a part of the application and what needs to be in the drawings. This section, in 107.3.5, spells out the minimum criteria for review for each area of work in commercial and residential buildings. This section is key as it states specifically the things that we are required to review in order to issue a permit.
- Section 108 talks about general requirements for temporary structures and Section 109 discusses fees. Many miss that a permit is only valid when the fees are paid (109.1) and many also do not understand that work starting prior to a permit being issued, mandates that the Building official charge a penalty (see 109.4).
- Section 110 covers inspections and is a long very detailed section that is very important to understand and know well for the success of the construction. It is this section that explains all the required inspections the Building Official has to conduct at a minimum for work in Florida.
- Section 111 addresses certificate of occupancy. What is required for the Building Official to issue one, what needs to be on one, as well as when one can be issued on a temporary basis and when one can be revoked. Section 112 addresses the authority of a Building Official with regard to building utilities.
- Section 115 discusses stop work orders.
Managing the codes and permitting process can be a bit daunting for someone doing it for the first time by themselves as Florida has probably the toughest codes in the country. Understanding the Administrative Section of the Florida Building Code will help manage this process much better and easier as you will know what the Code Officials (Building Official, Plans examiner, and Building Inspectors) will need to do their jobs.
The Building Code is only one part of this process, and the only part The Building Official and Building Department have control over.
Local City Land Development requirements (set backs, building heights, historical design in the historic area, landscaping requirements, and others) are the responsibility and under the authority of the Planning and Conservation Department and Planning Director here in the City of Fernandina Beach. Navigating these requirements is a completely separate matter and can be found in the Land Development Code in The Planning Department or on the City website.
I wish everyone in the City of Fernandina Beach the best in their building projects. It has been an honor and privilege to have served this City, and I wish all the best for the future.