About this chapter: Chapter 1 establishes the limits of applicability of the code and describes how the code is to be applied and enforced. Chapter 1 is in two parts: Part 1—Scope and Administration (Sections 101—102) and Part 2—Administration and Enforcement (Sections 103—117). Section 101 identifies which buildings and structures come under its purview and references other I-Codes® as applicable.
This code is intended to be adopted as a legally enforceable document, and it cannot be effective without adequate provisions for its administration and enforcement. The provisions of Chapter 1 establish the authority and duties of the code official appointed by the authority having jurisdiction and also establish the rights and privileges of the registered design professional, contractor and property owner.
Part 1 Scope and Application
The provisions of this code shall apply to the repair, alteration, change of occupancy, addition to and relocation of existing buildings.
Exception: Detached one- and two-family dwellings and multiple single-family dwellings (townhouses) not more than three stories above grade plane in height with a separate means of egress, and their accessory structures not more than three stories above grade plane in height, shall comply with this code or the Puerto Rico Residential Code.
Repairs or alterations mandated by any property, housing, or fire safety maintenance code or mandated by any licensing rule or ordinance adopted pursuant to law shall conform only to the requirements of that code, rule, or ordinance and shall not be required to conform to this code unless the code requiring such repair or alteration so provides.
The codes and standards referenced in this code shall be considered part of the requirements of this code to the prescribed extent of each such reference and as further regulated in Sections 102.4.1 and 102.4.2.
Exception: Where enforcement of a code provision would violate the conditions of the listing of the equipment or appliance, the conditions of the listing shall govern.
Part 2 Administration and Enforcement
[A] 104.2.1 Determination of Substantially Improved or Substantially Damaged Existing Buildings and Structures in Flood Hazard Areas
When requested by the permit applicant or the code official, the code official shall meet with the permit applicant prior to the application for a construction permit to discuss plans for the proposed work or change of occupancy in order to establish the specific applicability of the provisions of this code.
For existing buildings located in flood hazard areas for which repairs, alterations and additions constitute substantial improvement, the code official shall not grant modifications to provisions related to flood resistance unless a determination is made that:
- The applicant has presented good and sufficient cause that the unique characteristics of the size, configuration or topography of the site render compliance with the flood-resistant construction provisions inappropriate.
- Failure to grant the modification would result in exceptional hardship.
- The granting of the modification will not result in increased flood heights, additional threats to public safety, extraordinary public expense nor create nuisances, cause fraud on or victimization of the public or conflict with existing laws or ordinances.
- The modification is the minimum necessary to afford relief, considering the flood hazard.
- A written notice will be provided to the applicant specifying, if applicable, the difference between the design flood elevation and the elevation to which the building is to be built, stating that the cost of flood insurance will be commensurate with the increased risk resulting from the reduced floor elevation and that construction below the design flood elevation increases risks to life and property.
Exemptions from permit requirements of this code shall not be deemed to grant authorization for any work to be done in any manner in violation of the provisions of this code or any other laws or ordinances of this jurisdiction. Permits shall not be required for the works detailed in Rule 3.2.4 of Joint Regulation.
- The cutting away of any wall, partition, or portion thereof.
- The removal or cutting of any structural beam or load-bearing support.
- The removal or change of any required means of egress or rearrangement of parts of a structure affecting the egress requirements.
- Any addition to, alteration of, replacement or relocation of any standpipe, water supply, sewer, drainage, drain leader, gas, soil, waste, vent, or similar piping, or electric wiring.
- Mechanical or other work affecting public health or general safety.
To obtain a permit, the applicant shall first file an application, as established by the Joint Regulation. Such application shall:
- Identify and describe the work in accordance with Chapter 3 to be covered by the permit for which application is made.
- Describe the land on which the proposed work is to be done by legal description, street address, or similar description that will readily identify and definitely locate the proposed building or work.
- Indicate the use and occupancy for which the proposed work is intended.
- Be accompanied by construction documents and other information as required in Section 106.3.
- State the valuation of the proposed work.
- Be signed by the applicant or the applicant's authorized agent.
- Give such other data and information as required by the code official.
Submittal documents consisting of construction documents, special inspection and structural observation programs, investigation and evaluation reports, and other data shall be submitted in digital form with each application for a permit. The construction documents shall be prepared by a registered design professional where required by the statutes of Puerto Rico. Where special conditions exist, the code official is authorized to require additional construction documents to be prepared by a registered design professional.
Exception: The code official is authorized to waive the submission of construction documents and other data not required to be prepared by a registered design professional if it is found that the nature of the work applied for is such that reviewing of construction documents is not necessary to obtain compliance with this code, as established by the Joint Regulation.
Construction documents for work affecting the exterior wall envelope shall describe the exterior wall envelope in sufficient detail to determine compliance with this code. The construction documents shall provide details of the exterior wall envelope as required, including windows, doors, flashing, intersections with dissimilar materials, corners, end details, control joints, intersections at roof, eaves or parapets, means of drainage, water-resistive membrane, and details around openings.
The construction documents shall include manufacturer's installation instructions that provide supporting documentation that the proposed penetration and opening details described in the construction documents maintain the wind and weather resistance of the exterior wall envelope. The supporting documentation shall fully describe the exterior wall system that was tested, where applicable, as well as the test procedure used.
Deferral of any submittal items shall have the prior approval of the code official. The registered design professional in responsible charge shall list the deferred submittals on the construction documents for review by the code official.
Submittal documents for deferred submittal items shall be submitted to the registered design professional in responsible charge who shall review them and forward them to the code official with a notation indicating that the deferred submittal documents have been reviewed and that they have been found to be in general conformance to the design of the building. The deferred submittal items shall not be installed until their deferred submittal documents have been approved by the code official.
Lath and gypsum board inspections shall be made after lathing and gypsum board, interior and exterior, is in place but before any plastering is applied or before gypsum board joints and fasteners are taped and finished.
Exception: Gypsum board that is not part of a fireresistance-rated assembly or a shear assembly.
Where the scope of work involves balconies or other elevated walking surfaces exposed to water from direct or blowing rain, snow or irrigation, and the structural framing is protected by an impervious moisture barrier, all elements of the impervious moisture barrier system shall not be concealed until inspected and approved.
Exception: Where special inspections are provided in accordance with Section 1705.1.1, Item 3, of the Puerto Rico Building Code.
After the code official inspects the building and does not find violations of the provisions of this code or other laws that are enforced by the Permits Management Office and the Puerto Rico Planning Board, the code official shall issue a certificate of occupancy that contains the following:
- The permit number.
- The address of the structure.
- The name and address of the owner or the owner's authorized agent.
- A description of that portion of the structure for which the certificate is issued.
- A statement that the described portion of the structure has been inspected for compliance with the requirements of this code for the occupancy and division of occupancy and the use for which the proposed occupancy is classified.
- The name of the building official.
- The edition of the code under which the permit was issued.
- The use and occupancy in accordance with the provisions of the Puerto Rico Building Code.
- The type of construction as defined in the Puerto Rico Building Code.
- The design occupant load and any impact the alteration has on the design occupant load of the area not within the scope of the work.
- If fire protection systems are provided, whether the fire protection systems are required.
- Any special stipulations and conditions of the building permit.
The administrative judge may also require an interpretation from the board when a revision is requested where the application of the required code is in question.