Below, please find information that PENNBOC is sharing with its membership, including: Business Operation Modifications & the Building Code; PA DOS’s Limited Guidance Document for Appraiser, Notaries, Title Companies, and Home Inspectors; Free COVID-19-Related Webinars to Help You Navigate the Pandemic
BUSINESS OPERATION MODIFICATIONS & THE BUILDING CODE
With the COVID-19 pandemic response, a combination of government agencies and corporate safety personnel have dictated modifications to how businesses like food stores are doing business. These modifications include but are not limited to the creation of one way isles, limitation of occupancy, and creation of one-way-in/one-way-out store entry and egress.
In many cases these changes include the posting of current egress routes as “entrance only” or “no exit.” In some cases, the egress path has been reduced, lengthened, or otherwise modified. It has also been common place to use carts to block the egress path either inside the facility or outside the facility. In one facility the accessible route was completely blocked and no accessible route used in its place. All of these are violations of the building code.
We would encourage the building code officials to reach out to your local merchants who are still operating during this time and discuss the modifications that they are contemplating and work with them to ensure that they are compliant and don’t place the public at risk. Please remember that response to COVID-19 does not negate the provisions of the building code.
PA DEPT OF STATE LIMITED GUIDANCE DOCUMENT
On April 8, 2020 (and subsequently revised on April 10, 2020), the Pennsylvania Department of State issued a Limited Guidance Document for Appraisers, Notaries, Title Companies, and Home Inspectors. View the 4/10/20 DOS guidance letter HERE.
Important note: the guidance is intended for activities conducted in conjunction with a real estate transaction (e.g., home inspection) versus an inspection under the building code. We are sharing it with you so that you are aware of its existence as well as the distinction.
In the current environment, construction inspections are dependent on the structures and use, and whether it is classified as an emergency repair. Currently the sole exceptions to Gov. Wolf’s order suspending construction are for health care facilities and emergency repairs to commercial and residential structures or a construction project that received an exemption from the Governor’s and Secretary of Health’s orders.
The DOS Limited Guidance reads, in part:
“In response to concerns regarding residential real estate transactions (emphasis added), specifically those transactions initiated prior to the Emergency Disaster Declaration, the following limited guidance is being issued:
1. In-person activities listed below are permitted for only those residential real estate transactions which, with respect to existing homes, were under contract (signed) prior to the date of March 18, 2020: inspections; appraisals; final walk-throughs; and in-person title insurance activities.
2. [These] activities shall be arranged by appointment and limited to no more than two people on site at any one time. Exercising of social distancing during these activities is required, and wearing further protective gear is strongly encouraged. No construction activities may occur at such site other than limited activities necessary to stabilize the site, temporarily prevent weather damage, or make emergency repairs only. Emergency repairs, limited to performing those tasks necessary to provide repair services to customers, may continue. Further, residential construction projects that have been issued a final occupancy permit may continue such work as may be necessary to complete delivery to the purchaser. For all other residential construction projects limited activities may continue to the extent necessary to stabilize the site, temporarily prevent weather damage, or make emergency repairs only.
3. Any real estate business which is executed remotely is permissible…
4. For residential real estate contracts entered into after March 18, 2020, in-person inspections, appraisals, final walk-throughs, and title insurance activities are prohibited until the Emergency Disaster Declaration is lifted for Pennsylvania…”
FREE COVID-19-RELATED WEBINARS
Free webinars are available from ICC to help you navigate the pandemic. The building safety industry is adapting to ensure that it can continue to perform its public safety mission while addressing concerns over COVID-19. To offer support at this time, the International Code Council has compiled pertinent informative webinars for all to think about as they navigate these uncharted waters. Look at their upcoming ICC COVID-19 webinars and register HERE.
You can also use this time to take one of ICC’s online classes. View their list of virtual training opportunities HERE.
Other organizations providing online code training options include PCCA and PHRC.
PA L&I’s Burea of Occupational and Industrial Safety has etablished a FAQ page with answers to many common questions. You can view it HERE.