FAQ Essential vs. Non-Essential Construction & Building Inspections
March 20, 2020 – Governor Wolf issued clarifications to his order to close all non-life-sustaining businesses in Pennsylvania effective Monday, March 23, at 8:00 AM.
The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry has provided AIA Pennsylvania with the following FAQs addressing exemptions to construction’s classification as a non-essential business and addressing building inspection exceptions.
Construction on healthcare-related facilities and required inspections must also stop?
Construction on health care facilities has been determined to be life-sustaining business; therefore, code inspections services required for these activities should be considered life-sustaining activities as well.
Installation of emergency tents on hospital grounds for coronavirus screening and required inspections must stop?
Inspection on emergency tents is also considered life-sustaining business and may continue.
Municipal Employees doing plan reviews and inspections may continue but third parties must shut down?
Third-party agencies are permitted to continue to provide inspections for limited circumstances that include health care facilities, emergency repairs and work that is being conducted in connection with a DCED waiver found at the following link: online waiver application
Municipalities are informing third parties that they expect them to continue performing their contracted duties. How should third parties respond to this?
Third-party agencies should indicate that they are permitted to continue to provide inspections for limited circumstances that include health care facilities, emergency repairs and work that is being conducted in connection with a DCED waiver in an effort to continue those services requested by the municipality.
Inspections were already scheduled when the order to shut down was issued. Can these still be performed?
Continued inspections would be dependent on the structures and use, and whether it is classified as an emergency repair. Currently the main exception is for health care facilities and emergency repairs to commercial and residential structures. If a construction project has received a waiver through DCED to continue work on the project, then inspections may continue.
Contractors who ignore the order and continue….wanting inspections. What should they be told?Contractors who ignore the order and request an inspection should be denied that request, and the requestor should be reminded of the governor’s orders that have suspended construction activities throughout the Commonwealth with the exception of healthcare facilities and emergency repairs to commercial and residential structures. The contractor should be advised to seek a waiver from DCED for the project/work.
Homeowners doing their own work not covered by the order….how to respond when they call for an inspection?
Repair and/or maintenance for customers in their homes is allowable under the Personal and Household Goods Repair and Maintenance section of the Governor’s order. Any inspection request that does not fall under this category should be denied unless the homeowner has secured a waiver from DCED.
If you believe you have projects in progress that have immediate health, safety, and welfare consequences, please use the PA Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Business Exemption Form to apply for a waiver to the Governor’s closure order or contact the Department of Community and Economic Development at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 1-877-PA-HEALTH and selecting option 1.
When a business completes a waiver form, a team of professionals at DCED will review each request and respond based on the guiding principle of balancing public safety while ensuring the continued delivery of critical infrastructure services and functions. Those requesting a waiver will be notified via email if their operations may re-open. Businesses applying for a waiver must remain closed until a decision is made about their application.