Uniform Construction Code

When the UCC Requires Permits and Inspections

General Exclusions        Commercial Exemptions       Residential Exemptions

 (A Zoning Certificate may be required even though the project does not require a UCC Building Permit.)

As a general rule, the UCC requires that a property owner or the owner's authorized agent obtain a UCC construction or building permit before commencing any work and that the work be inspected in the following cases:

bulletConstruction, enlargement, alteration, repair, movement, demolition or change in the occupancy of a commercial building, structure or facility;
bulletConstruction, enlargement, alteration, repair, movement, demolition or change in the occupancy of a residential building;
bulletErection, installation, enlargement, alteration, repair, removal, replacement or conversion of any electrical, gas, mechanical or plumbing system regulated by the UCC;
bulletConstruction or installation of a swimming pool, hot tub or spa;
bulletSite preparation, foundation construction, utility connections, alterations, additions, repairs and changes of occupancy of manufactured and industrialized housing.

Under the UCC, a building, structure or facility cannot be used or occupied without a UCC certificate of occupancy first being issued.

Emergency repairs or replacement of equipment may be made without first applying for a permit so long as a permit application is submitted to the building code official within 3 business days after the repair or replacement.

Certain work is excluded and exempt from the UCC's requirements of permits and inspections. A property owner should not assume that work is exempt without first making appropriate inquiry, as performance of work for which a UCC permit is required without first obtaining a permit will subject the owner to enforcement proceedings and possibly additional costs. See 34 Pa. Code Section 403.42 for commercial and industrial buildings and 34 Pa. Code Section 403.62 for residential dwellings.

General Exclusions from permit requirements include:

bulletNew buildings or renovations to existing buildings for which an application for a building permit was made to the municipality prior to the effective date of the regulations promulgated under this act.
bulletNew buildings or renovations to existing buildings on which a contract for design or construction has been signed prior to the effective date of the regulations promulgated under this act on projects requiring department approval.
bulletUtility and miscellaneous use structures that are accessory to detached one-family dwellings that are less than 200 square feet and have no utilities.
bulletAn agricultural building.
bulletRepairs to residential buildings, except as might be required by ordinances in effect pursuant to Section 303(b)(1) or adopted pursuant to Section 503.
bulletInstallation of aluminum or vinyl siding onto an existing residential or an existing commercial building, except as might be required by ordinances in effect pursuant to Section 301 or adopted pursuant to Section 503.
bulletAny recreational cabin if:
bulletThe cabin is equipped with at least one smoke detector, one fire extinguisher and one carbon monoxide detector in both the kitchen and sleeping quarters.
bulletThe owner of the cabin files with the municipality either:
bulletAn affidavit on a form prescribed by the department attesting to the fact that the cabin meets the definition of a “recreational cabin” in Section 103; or
bulletA valid proof of insurance for the recreational cabin, written and issued by an insurer authorized to do business in this Commonwealth, stating that the structure meets the definition of a “recreational cabin” as defined in Section 103.
bulletTemporary structures which are:
bulletErected for the purpose of participation in a fair, flea market, arts and crafts festival or other public celebration.
bulletLess than 1,600 square feet in size.
bulletErected for a period of less than 30 days.
bulletNot a swimming pool, spa or hot tub.
bulletSubject to Section 503(a)(2).

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Commercial and Industrial Construction Exemptions from permit requirements include:

bulletBuilding construction for fences less than 6' high, oil derricks, certain retaining walls, water tanks with a capacity of less than 2,500 gallons, sidewalks and driveways not more than 30" above grade and that are not located over a basement or story below it, painting, papering, tiling, carpeting, cabinets, counter tops and similar finishing work, temporary motion picture, television and theater stage sets and scenery, certain prefabricated swimming pools, shade cloth structures constructed for nursery or agricultural purposes that do not include service systems, swings and other playground equipment accessory to 1- or 2-family homes, certain window awnings, movable cases, counters and partitions that are less than 5 feet 9 inches in height, window replacement without structural change;
bulletElectrical work for minor repair and maintenance work including replacement of lamps or connection of approved portable equipment to approved permanently installed receptacles, electrical equipment used for radio and television transmissions and installation of a temporary system for the testing or servicing of electrical equipment or apparatus;
bulletGas work including a portable heating appliance or replacement of a minor part that does not alter approval of equipment or make the equipment unsafe;
bulletMechanical work involving a portable heating appliance, portable ventilation equipment, portable cooling unit, portable evaporative cooler, steam, hot or chilled water piping within any heating or cooling equipment governed under the UCC, replacement of a part that does not alter its approval or make it unsafe and a self-contained refrigeration system containing 10 pounds or less of refrigerant and placed into action by motors that are not more than 1 hp;
bulletPlumbing repairs including stopping leaks in a drain and a water, soil, waste or vent pipe (this not including defective pipe to be removed and replaced with new material) and cleaning stoppages or repairing leaks in pipes, valves or fixtures and removal and installation of water closets, faucets and lavatories if the valves or pipes are not replaced or rearranged;
bulletAn ordinary repair (ordinary repair does not include cutting away a wall, partition or portion of a wall, removal or cutting of any structural beam or load-bearing support, removal or change of any required means of egress, rearrangement of parts of a structure affecting the egress requirements and addition to or alteration, replacement or relocation of any standpipe, water supply, sewer, drainage, drain leader, gas, soil, waste, vent or similar piping, electric wiring or mechanical).
bulletTemporary structures which are:
bulletErected for the purpose of participation in a fair, flea market, arts and crafts festival or other public celebration
bulletLess than 1,600 square feet in size
bulletErected for a period of less than 30 days.

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Residential Construction Exemptions from permit requirements include:

Ordinary repairs, but ordinary repairs do not include:

bulletCutting away a wall, partition or portion of a wall
bulletRemoval or cutting of any structural beam or load-bearing support
bulletRemoval or change of any required means of egress
bulletRearrangement of parts of a structure affecting the egress requirements
bulletAdding to, altering, replacing or relocating piping, sewer, wiring, etc.

Building construction, replacement or repairs for

bulletFences that are less than 6' high (Zoning Permit required)
bulletRetaining walls not over 4' high measured from the bottom of footing (Zoning Permit required)
bulletSome water tanks (2,500 gal. or less capacity) supported directly on grade and have less than a 2 to 1 height to diameter or width ratio
bulletCertain sidewalks and driveways that are 30" or less above adjacent grade
bulletThe construction, erection or placement of an uncovered deck where the floor of the deck is 18" or less above grade
bulletExterior or interior painting or papering
bulletExterior or interior tiling, carpeting, flooring, cabinets and counter tops
bulletPrefabricated swimming pools that are less than 24" deep
bulletSwings and playground equipment accessory to 1- or 2-family dwelling
bulletCertain window awnings supported by an exterior wall
bulletReplacing glass in a window or door (replacement glass must meet Code)
bulletInstalling or replacing a window, door, garage door with no new opening
bulletInstalling or replacing a storm window or storm door with no new opening
bulletReplacing existing roof material that does not involve structural elements
bulletRepair or replacement of a porch or stoop that does not support a roof
bulletInstalling additional roll or BATT insulation
bulletReplacing existing siding or rain water gutters and leaders
bulletInstalling an uncovered deck if the deck floor is less than 18" above grade
bulletCoal-fired boilers installed by design, construction and testing in accordance wit the International Residential Code of 2003

Minor electrical work for

bulletReplacing lamps
bulletConnecting approved portable equipment to approved permanent receptacle
bulletMinor replacement of a receptacle, switch or lighting fixture (check limits)
bulletReplacing installed equipment such as doorbells, communication systems
bulletInstalling, altering or rearranging communications wiring
bulletReplacing dishwashers or kitchen range hoods
bulletInstalling battery-powered smoke detectors

Minor gas work for

bulletPortable heating, cooking or clothes drying appliances
bulletReplacing a minor part that does not alter approval of equipment
bulletPortable fuel cell appliance not hooked to fixed piping system/power grid

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Mechanical work or equipment for

bulletPortable heating or ventilation appliances
bulletA portable cooling unit or a portable evaporative cooler
bulletSteam, hot or chilled water piping within equipment governed by the DCC
bulletReplacing any minor part that does not alter approval of equipment
bulletCertain smaller self-contained refrigeration systems
bulletPortable fuel cell appliance not hooked to fixed piping system/power grid

Plumbing work for

bulletReplacing bib valves if specified replacement valves are provided
bulletRefinishing of existing fixtures
bulletReplacing ball cocks
bulletRepair of leaks
bulletClearance of stoppages
bulletReplacing faucets or working parts of faucets
bulletReplacing valves other than shower or combination shower/bath valves
bulletReplacing traps
bulletReplacing a water closet, lavatory or kitchen sink
bulletReplacing a domestic clothes washer or dishwasher

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning work for

bulletReplacement of motors, pumps and fans of the same capacity
bulletRepair and replacement of heating, supply and return piping and radiation elements which do not require rearrangement of the piping system
bulletRepair and replacement of duct work
bulletRepair and replacement of air conditioning equipment and systems
bulletRepair and replacement of control devices for heating and air conditioning equipment
bulletReplacement of kitchen range hoods
bulletReplacement of clothes dryers if there is no change in fuel type, location or electrical requirements
bulletReplacement of stoves and ovens if there is no change in fuel type, location or electrical characteristics

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