1999 Montana Legislature

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     Section 1.  Building codes council -- purpose and structure. (1) There is a building codes council for the purpose of assisting the department with the application, implementation, and interpretation of the state building code and building codes adopted by local governments. The council shall work cooperatively with the department and with representatives of the construction industry as well as members of the interested public to harmonize building codes and related rules with both the needs of the construction industry and the public interest in efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and safety.

     (2)  The council consists of 11 members appointed by the governor, unless otherwise specified, as follows:

     (a)  a practicing architect licensed in Montana;

     (b)  a practicing professional engineer licensed in Montana;

     (c)  a representative from the building contractor industry;

     (d)  a municipal building inspector;

     (e)  a representative of the manufactured housing industry;

     (f)  a member of the general public who does not hold public office and who does not represent the same industry or agency as another council member;

     (g)  the director of the department of health and human services or the director's designee;

     (h)  a licensed electrician selected by the board of electricians;

     (i)  a licensed plumber selected by the board of plumbers;

     (j)  the state fire marshal or the fire marshal's designee; and

     (k)  a representative of the home building industry.

     (3)  The appointed council members serve at the pleasure of the governor for terms of 3 years.

     (4)  The council is allocated to the department for administrative purposes only as provided in 2-15-121.

     (5)  The council and its members are entitled to compensation as provided in 2-15-122.

     Section 2.  Continuing education -- funding support from building fees -- special account. (1) There is a building codes education program administered by the department for the purpose of providing continuing education in building code standards and other related topics to interested persons in the construction industry and in regulatory agencies of state and local government.

     (2)  The building codes education program must be funded entirely from building fee revenue collected by the department, and the department shall allocate 0.5% of the fees that the department collects pursuant to 50-60-104 to the state special revenue account established in subsection (3) to pay the costs of conducting courses and seminars at multiple locations in the state.

     (3)  There is an account in the state special revenue fund for the purpose of paying the costs of the building codes education program.

     (4)  The department may expend the funds referred to in subsection (2) to contract with the cooperative extension service, the extended studies programs, other appropriate units of the Montana university system, or private sector entities to develop and conduct the building codes education program.

     Section 3.  Building code interpretations -- central registry. (1) The department shall, in cooperation with the Montana chapter of the international conference of building officials, develop a process and procedure for:

     (a)  achieving, to the greatest extent possible, knowledge and acceptance of the department's interpretations by affected parties;

     (b)  publishing the department's interpretations of building code provisions in a manner that makes the interpretations easily accessible to and obtainable by the public by paper copy and by electronic means; and

     (c)  maintaining in a central registry easily accessed records of the published interpretations provided for in subsection (1)(b).

     (2)  The department shall provide to the building codes council, established in [section 1], a comprehensive and up-to-date file of the department's interpretations of all building codes in use in Montana.

     Section 4.  Examination of single-family dwelling plans -- statewide approval for model plans -- fee adjustments -- mandatory checklist. (1) The department shall accept for examination and approval or disapproval all model construction plans for single-family dwellings submitted to the department.

     (2)  Once a model construction plan has been approved, the department shall indicate in writing on the approved plan that the plan is acceptable on a statewide basis and that no further examination is warranted except with respect to:

     (a)  zoning;

     (b)  footings, foundations, and basements;

     (c)  curbs;

     (d)  gutters;

     (e)  landscaping;

     (f)  utility connections;

     (g)  street requirements;

     (h)  sidewalks; and

     (i)  other requirements specifically related to the exterior of the building.

     (3)  Local building departments shall reduce plan examination fees commensurate with the reduced time and effort expended resulting from the department's examination provided for in subsection (1).

     (4)  This section may not be construed to reduce the requirements for obtaining permits for onsite inspection of the residence under construction pursuant to 50-60-106.

     (5)  (a) The department shall devise a checklist for the examination of single-family dwelling construction plans by the department and by the building code enforcement officials of municipalities and counties.

     (b)  The checklist must be based upon the most recently adopted edition of the council of American building officials One and Two Family Dwelling Code, as amended.

     (c)  The checklist is subject to review and amendment by the building codes council provided for in [section 1].

     (d)  The checklist must be made available to building contractors at a price that is commensurate with reproduction costs, and a building contractor who uses the checklist and attaches it to the plans that the contractor submits to the department or a municipality or county for examination is entitled to receive the relevant building permit or notice of disapproval within 10 days of submission of the completed checklist.

     Section 5.  Section 50-60-103, MCA, is amended to read:

     "50-60-103.  Administration by department. The department shall administer parts 1 through 4 and for that purpose shall:

     (1)  issue orders necessary to effectuate the purposes of parts 1 through 4 and enforce the orders by all appropriate administrative and judicial proceedings;

     (2)  enter, inspect, and examine buildings or premises necessary for the proper performance of its duties under parts 1 through 4;

     (3)  study the operation of the state building code, local building regulations, and other laws related to the construction of buildings to ascertain their effects upon the cost of building construction and the effectiveness of their provisions for health and safety;

     (4)  recommend tests or require the testing and approval of materials, devices, and methods of construction to ascertain their acceptability under the requirements of the state building code and issue certification of such the acceptability;

     (5)  appoint experts, consultants, and technical advisers for assistance and recommendations relative to the formulation and adoption of the state building code;

     (6)  advise, consult, and cooperate with other agencies of the state, local governments, industries, and interested persons or groups; and

     (7)  consult with the building codes council, established in [section 1], on all rules and interpretations of building code provisions and on the checklist for the examination of single-family dwelling construction plans provided for in [section 4]."

     Section 6.  Section 50-60-106, MCA, is amended to read:

     "50-60-106.  Powers and duties of municipalities. (1) The examination, approval, or disapproval of plans and specifications, the issuance and revocation of building permits, licenses, certificates, and similar documents, the inspection of buildings, and the administration and enforcement of building regulations within the municipal jurisdictional area are the responsibility of the municipalities of the state.

     (2)  Each municipality or county certified under 50-60-302 shall, within its jurisdictional area:

     (a)  examine, approve, or disapprove plans and specifications for the construction of any building, the construction of which is pursuant or purports to be pursuant to the applicable provisions of the state or municipal building code, and direct the inspection of the buildings during and in the course of construction;

     (b)  require that construction of buildings be in accordance with the applicable provisions of the state or municipal building code, subject to the powers of variance or modification granted to the department;

     (c)  make available to building contractors at a price that is commensurate with reproduction costs a checklist devised by the department pursuant to [section 4] for single-family dwellings and provide to contractors who attach a completed checklist to the plans submitted for examination the relevant building permit or notice of plan disapproval within 10 working days of the contractor's submission.

     (c)(d)  during and in the course of construction, order in writing the remedying of any condition found to exist in, on, or about any building that is being constructed in violation of the applicable state or municipal building code. Orders may be served upon the owner or his the owner's authorized agent personally or by sending by registered or certified mail a copy of the order to the owner or his the owner's authorized agent at the address set forth in the application for permission for the construction of the building. A local building department, by action of an authorized officer, may grant in writing such time as may be reasonably necessary for achieving compliance with the order. For the purposes of this subsection (2)(c) (2)(d), the phrase "during and in the course of construction" refers to the construction of a building until all necessary building permits have been obtained and the municipality or county has issued formal written approvals or has issued a certificate of occupancy for the building.

     (d)(e)  issue certificates of occupancy as provided in 50-60-107;

     (e)(f)  issue permits, licenses, and other required documents in connection with the construction of a building;

     (f)(g) ensure that all construction-related fees or charges imposed and collected by the municipality or county are necessary, reasonable, and uniform and are:

     (i)  except as provided in subsection (2)(g)(iii), used only for building code enforcement, which consists of those necessary and reasonable costs directly and specifically identifiable for the enforcement of building codes, plus indirect costs charged on the same basis as other local government proprietary funds not paying administrative charges as direct charges. If indirect costs are waived for any local government proprietary fund, they must also be waived for the program established in this section. Indirect charges are limited to the charges that are allowed under federal cost accounting principles that are applicable to a local government.

     (ii) reduced if the amount of the fees or charges accumulates above the amount needed to enforce building codes for 12 months. The excess must be placed in a reserve account and may only be used for building code enforcement. Collection and expenditure of fees and charges must be fully documented.

     (iii) allocated and remitted to the department, in an amount not to exceed 0.5% of the building fees or charges collected, for the building codes education program established in [section 2].

     (3)  Each municipality or county certified under 50-60-302 may, within its jurisdictional area:

     (a)  make, amend, and repeal rules for the administration and enforcement of the provisions of this section and for the collection of fees and charges related to construction;

     (b)  prohibit the commencement of construction until a permit has been issued by the local building department after a showing of compliance with the requirements of the applicable provisions of the state or municipal building code; and

     (c)  enter into a private contract with the owner or builder of a building that is not or will not be within the jurisdiction of the municipality or county under which the municipality or county will provide reviews, inspections, orders, and certificates of occupancy for a fee and under conditions agreed upon by the parties. Municipal or county powers of enforcement may not be exercised."

     Section 7.  Section 50-60-201, MCA, is amended to read:

     "50-60-201.  Purpose of state building code. The state building code must be designed to effectuate the general purposes of parts 1 through 4 and the following specific objectives and standards to:

     (1)  provide reasonably uniform standards and requirements for construction and construction materials consistent with accepted standards of design, engineering, and fire prevention practices;

     (2)  permit to the fullest extent feasible the use of modern technical methods, devices, and improvements that tend to reduce the cost of construction consistent with reasonable requirements for the health and safety of the occupants or users of buildings and, consistent with the conservation of energy, by design requirements and criteria that will result in the efficient use of energy, whether used directly or in a refined form, in buildings;

     (3)  eliminate restrictive, obsolete, conflicting, and unnecessary building regulations and requirements that tend to unnecessarily increase construction costs, unnecessarily prevent the use of proven new materials that have been found adequate through experience or testing, or provide unwarranted preferential treatment to types or classes of materials, products, or methods of construction;

     (4)  ensure that any newly constructed public buildings and certain altered public buildings are readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities, according to the principles applicable to accessibility to public buildings for persons with disabilities in the state building code;

     (5)  ensure statewide uniformity in the inspection and enforcement of exterior features of all newly constructed public buildings and certain altered public buildings, including building sites, for physical accessibility to people with disabilities;

     (6)  encourage efficiencies of design and insulation that enable buildings to be heated in the winter with the least possible quantities of energy and to be kept cool in the summer without air conditioning equipment or with the least possible use of the equipment;

     (7)  encourage efficiencies and criteria directed toward design of building envelopes with high thermal resistance and low air leakage and toward requiring practices in the design and selection of mechanical, electrical, and illumination systems that promote the efficient use of energy;

     (8)  provide, to the greatest extent possible, with the advice and consent of the building codes council and the Montana chapter of the international conference of building officials, a broadly uniform system of building code interpretations for the purposes of predictability, fairness, and efficiency."

     Section 8.  Section 50-60-301, MCA, is amended to read:

     "50-60-301.  Municipal and county building codes authorized -- health care facility and public health center doors -- fee adjustment for model plans. (1) The local legislative body of a municipality or county may adopt a building code by ordinance to apply to the municipal or county jurisdictional area.

     (2)  A municipal or county building code may include only codes adopted by the department.

     (3)  Any provision of a building code requiring the installation or maintenance of self-closing or automatic closing corridor doors to patient rooms does not apply to health care facilities, as defined in 50-5-101, or to a public health center, as defined in 7-34-2102.

     (4)  (a) When the same single-family dwelling plan is constructed at more than one site, the municipality or county shall, after the first examination of the plan, adjust the required plan fee to reflect only the cost of reviewing requirements pertaining to the review of:

     (i)  zoning;

     (ii) footings, foundations, and basements;

     (iii) curbs;

     (iv) gutters;

     (v)  landscaping;

     (vi) utility connections;

     (vii) street requirements;

     (viii) sidewalks; and

     (ix) other requirements related specifically to the exterior of the building.

     (b)  If a building contractor alters the single-family dwelling plan referred to in subsection (4)(a) in a fashion that substantially affects the building code requirements, the municipality or county may impose the full examination fee permitted under in 50-60-106."

     Section 9.  Codification instruction. [Sections 1 through 4] are intended to be codified as an integral part of Title 50, chapter 60, part 1, and the provisions of Title 50, chapter 60, part 1, apply to [sections 1 through 4].

- END -

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