Bill Summary for H 865 (2021)

Summary date: 

May 7 2021

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2021
House Bill 865 (Public) Filed Tuesday, May 4, 2021
AN ACT TO AUTHORIZE INSPECTIONS BY PRIVATE INSPECTORS OF COMMERCIAL BUILDINGS AND STRUCTURES FOR COMPLIANCE WITH THE NORTH CAROLINA STATE BUILDING CODE.
Intro. by Brody, Hardister, Moffitt, Arp.

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Bill summary

Amends Article 9C of GS Chapter 143 as follows. 

Adds and defines private commercial inspection in GS 143-151.8, applicable to Article 9C governing the NC Code Officials Qualification Board (Board), defining the term as inspection by a private commercial inspection of the manner, workmanship, and materials for the construction of commercial buildings and structures for compliance with the NC Building Code (Code), excluding sections pertaining to boilers and elevators. Adds and defines private commercial inspector.

Adds the following to the powers of the Board under GS 143-151.12: (1) certification and registration of private commercial inspectors; (2) establishing minimum standards and level of education and experience for private commercial inspector instructors; (3) conducting and encouraging research by public and private agencies be designed to improve education and training in private commercial inspection; and (4) ensuring the minimum standards for education of private commercial inspectors includes specific instruction on the duties and responsibilities imposed by law on such inspectors. 

Adds new subsections to GS 143-151.14, authorizing the Board to grant a standard private commercial inspector certificate of a particular type of position and level for individuals holding certification as a qualified Code-enforcement official or the equivalent of a private commercial inspector in good standing by a similar out-of-state board or by the International Code Council, without requiring an exam. Provides for a three-year certificate.

Enacts GS 143-151.14A to require certification to engage in private commercial inspection. Provides for either a standard private commercial inspector certificate or a limited private commercial inspector certificate. Upon successfully passing an examination, provides for issuance of a standard certificate to building, electrical, mechanical, plumbing, or fire inspectors, with the certificate limiting the scope of practice to the specific inspection area and level. Allows for qualification for more than one standard certificate. Provides for levels of certificates and coordinating authorities to be provided by Board rules. Allows a private commercial inspector holding a limited certificate to conduct a private commercial inspection requiring a higher level private commercial inspector certificate upon issuance by the Board of a standard certificate appropriate for that higher level inspection. Requires standard certificates be issued to applicants who hold certification as a Cod-enforcement official, architectural license, or engineering license, with certificates issued to licensed architects and engineers issued granting authority to conduct any commercial inspection except a final fire inspection. 

Enacts GS 143-151.14B to authorize the Board to establish professional development requirements for private commercial inspectors as a condition of certificate renewal or reactivation. Prohibits requiring more than six credit hours per 12 month renewal period. Provides for two of the six continuing education hours of licensed architects and engineers to pertain to those professions. Authorizes the Board to require certified individuals to complete professional development courses within one year of certification, not to exceed six hours in each technical area of certification. Details specific authorities for professional development requirements for reactivation of a standard or limited certificate. Provides for extensions to meet the requirements. Authorizes the Board to adopt implementing rules that govern seven specified areas, including the ability to carry forward course credit and the procedures for compliance and sanctions for noncompliance. 

Amends GS 143-151.15, deeming standard and limited certificates valid as long as the person certified is employed by a private commercial inspector or self-employed as a private commercial inspector. Makes provisions applicable to returning and reissuing certificates of Code-enforcement officials applicable to standard and limited private commercial inspector certificates. 

Expands GS 143-151.17 to prohibit a private commercial inspector from inspecting any property in which the inspector, or a person with whom the inspector has a close familial (as defined), business, or other associational relationship, has ownership or direct financial interest. Extends the Board's investigative powers to actions of qualified private commercial inspectors and applicants, as well as the Board's disciplinary authority under the statute. 

Expands GS 143-151.16, GS 143-151.18, and GS 143-151.19, making the provisions governing certification fees, renewal certificates, examination fees, Article violations and penalties, and Article administration applicable to Code-enforcement officials applicable to private commercial inspectors. 

Enacts GS 143-151.19A to require registration with the Board to engage in private commercial inspection by submission of an application that includes proof of certification and an inspection procedure plan that meets the specified criteria, and other required information. Provides for a registration number upon review of the plan and the person's qualifications, or written notice of the Board's basis for denial and the opportunity to resubmit the application. Allows for review of denied resubmitted applications. Requires the Board to maintain a list of registrations. Allows for amendments to registration or inspector procedure plans by private commercial inspectors to the Board at any time. Requires the Board to establish a fee schedule for registrations, not to exceed $20 per applicant. 

Makes changes throughout the above amended statutes to update statutory cross-references.

Amends GS Chapter 160D as follows. 

Amends GS 160D-402 to require local governments to return fees to permit holders upon inspections performed by a private commercial inspector. 

Amends GS 160D-403 to exclude from the inspector authorities provided in subsection (e) work for which a holder has elected to use private commercial inspections for inspection of commercial buildings and structures for compliance with the Code. Prohibits local governments from conducting final inspections of work or activity on commercial buildings or structures for projects under GS 160D-1105.1, as enacted, regarding inspection reports of commercial buildings or structures by a private commercial inspector. Corrects a statutory cross-reference.

Adds private commercial inspection and private commercial inspector to the defined terms of Article 11, Building Enforcement, defined by statutory cross-reference. 

Amends GS 160D-1102, to prohibit local governments from adopting or enforcing any ordinance prohibiting private commercial inspections by private commercial inspectors, and prohibits the Commissioner of Insurance from doing the same when the Department of Insurance has intervened pursuant to subsection (b), as organized, upon failure of the local government to provide inspection services as required by law. 

Enacts GS 160D-1103.1 to prohibit private commercial inspections except by qualified private commercial inspectors pursuant to Article 9C of GS Chapter 143, as amended. 

Makes conforming changes to GS 160D-1104 to exclude from the scope of local government duties and responsibilities timely inspections made by private commercial inspectors and certificates of compliance with the Code issued or denied by a private commercial inspector. 

Amends GS 160D-1105, authorizing local governments to contract with a private commercial inspector certified and registered under Article 9C of GS Chapter 143, as amended, to conduct inspection under Article 11. Additionally authorizes a permit holder to contract with a private commercial inspector to conduct private commercial inspections of commercial buildings and structures for compliance with the Code. 

Enacts GS 160D-1105.1 to require local governments and the Commissioner of Insurance to accept and approve, without any further responsibility to inspect, a signed inspection report evidencing the inspection of a commercial building or structure by a private commercial inspector that meets seven criteria, in the event the Department of Insurance has intervened pursuant to GS 160D-1102(b) due to the local government's failure to make required inspections. Criteria include that (1) the private commercial inspection is limited in scope to compliance with the Code; (2) proof of compliance with financial responsibility requirements; and (3) execution of a written contract between the permit holder and the private commercial inspector that contains six specified terms. Upon issuing an inspection report receipt, relieves the local government, the Commissioner of Insurance, its inspection departments, and its inspectors of liability and responsibilities with respect to the inspection. Requires the inspection report comply with the form developed by the Board. Excludes final fire inspections. 

Enacts GS 160D-1105.2, explicitly denying private commercial inspectors authority to conduct final fire inspections required by the Code.

Enacts GS 160D-1105.3 to establish bond and insurance requirements of building permit applicants intending to use a private commercial inspector. Provides for the permit holder to request the local government resume project inspections at any time, which allows local governments to claim against the payment bond inspection costs or otherwise seek payment from the permit holder. 

Enacts GS 160D-1105.4 to grant civil and criminal immunity to private commercial investigators with regard to inspections or issuance of certificate of compliance unless conduct amounts to intentional or willful misconduct.

Enacts GS 160D-1105.5 to direct the Board to develop specified uniform forms for use by private commercial inspections. Limits information local government can require to information provided on these forms. 

Makes conforming changes to GS 160D-1109, regarding violations of inspection department members for failure to perform duties. 

Amends GS 160D-1110 requiring permit applicants to attach an addendum to permit applications or amendments noticing intent to use a private commercial inspector on the project, with specified required content. Provides for a reduction in the permit fee by 80%, with the remaining 20% retained by the local government for administrative costs. Provides for local governments to not interfere with permitted projects being inspected by private commercial inspectors, except for the final fire inspection to be conducted by the local government and inspections necessary to determine compliance with applicable local law.

Amends GS 160D-1112 to require building permits to be amended to designate the use of or changed in the designated private commercial inspector. 

Amends GS 160D-1116 to include private commercial inspectors in the duties of inspectors regarding final inspections and the issuance of certificates of compliance. Requires certificates issued by private commercial inspectors to be in the form developed by the Board. Requires a private commercial inspector to give a local government 60 days' notice of the date the inspector anticipates issuing a certificate of compliance, as specified, and provide a copy of an issued certificate of compliance to the local government, as specified, with receipt required to be acknowledged by the local government. Provides that only a local government may issue a temporary certificate of occupancy. Prohibits withholding a certificate of occupancy for which a certificate of compliance has been issued by a private commercial inspector. Provides for the local government and Commissioner of Insurance's reliance upon a certificate of compliance issued by a private commercial inspector and resulting indemnity. Expands the Class 1 misdemeanor for violating subsections (a) and (b) to now cover violations of the statute, as amended.

Directs the Department of Insurance to adopt temporary implementing rules within 90 days of the act becoming law.

Effective January 1, 2022. 

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