Certification exams taken over by new BCSD staff


ver since the State Building Code was established by law in 1971, a jurisdiction adopting the code must have a certified building official to administer it. Building official certification is the charge of the Building Codes and Standards Division. We prequalify, test, and certify qualified individuals to provide jurisdictions with a pool of qualified candidates to fill their building official positions. A lot goes on behind the scenes in order to create a Minnesota certified building official. The two newest members of the Education Section learned this first-hand from supervisor Mike Godfrey on their first day of work. When building officials Mike Fricke and Rich Lockrem reported to work on their first day in March, they thought they came to teach division seminars and administer a well-oiled certification program. After a brief orientation, they discovered there was an Mike Fricke immediate need to set up (top), Rich Lockrem test sites and proctor exams,
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The State Building Code is . . .

BCSD directors

from the

Tom Anderson


hirty years ago, when the State Building Code became the only building code allowed in the State of Minnesota, things were much simpler. The new “Building Code Division” was housed in a tiny office on University Avenue, and the staff of 12 worked at card tables and chairs. The staff had more than doubled – from five employees the first year – while the division prepared for rolling out the new State Building Code.
Thirty years Page 4


Memory Lane has twists, turns for code administration

n July 1 of this year, the State Building Code Division celebrates its 30th anniversary. The first code, adopted July 1, 1972, superseded the building code regulations of more than 250 communities in the state. The purpose of the act establishing the code was to provide uniform standards for the construction of buildings that would permit application of modern construction methods and materials at lower costs. I believe we have accomplished the purpose. The code is flexible and provides for modern materials and methods. We have lowered construction costs with our uniform standards. We have seen outdated code requirements
From the directors Page 4



n an informal, highly unscientific survey taken at the Builders Association of Minnesota’s conference in April, we gleaned some information that will help us with our future plans. The survey was the brainchild of Doug Sandstad, New Hope building official, and was put into final form by Doug and Tom Anderson, Building Codes’ assistant director. Both men staffed a joint state – Minnesota Code
Surveys Page 6


Continued from Page 1
a service previously provided by another state agency but eliminated when budgets were cut. They soon mastered the new challenge and have been administering building official certification exams at four new sites since April 13. Mike and Rich have designed the processes, set up sites, drafted letters, and created forms for the certification program. Once the applicants have been determined to be qualified by education and/or experience, they may apply to take the exam. The test measures an applicant’s general knowledge and ability to find things in the written code. Three exam types are administered, “certified building official,” “certified building official – limited,” and “accessibility specialist.” A division work group updates each test every three years to reflect code changes. Twenty-one tests are given each year. Tests are given at the BCSD St. Paul office every six weeks and additionally in Greater Minnesota every two months. How hard is the test? “It’s challenging,” said Mike. “But a fair measure of the applicant’s knowledge,” Rich added. They both agreed that no one should attempt to take the test until he or she has a considerable amount of experience and training.


Steps in the exam process
The building official examination process works like this: 1. A prospective building official applies for taking the certification exam. 2. Mike and Rich review the applicant’s training and other prerequisites for certification. 3. If qualified, the applicant selects an exam location and date closest to home. 4. When the applicant arrives at the testing site, Mike and/or Rich are there to hand out copies of the State Building Code and the Uniform Building Code for the open-book exam. 5. Back at the St. Paul office, Mike and Rich manually score the exams, then mail the results to each applicant. If the applicant has passed, a building official certificate is issued and the applicant is ready to apply for a job in the category of building official for which he or she was tested.
Every certified building official must maintain certification through continuing education. Earning the required number of continuing education units (CEUs) through attendance at approved educational programs will gain the building official recertification every three years, coinciding with the adoption of updated building codes in the state. Along with the examinations and recertifications, Mike and Rich are taking on other responsibilities. They will join other section staff to teach building codes at the division’s seminars and will be responsible for administering the state’s surcharge on building permits and the new annual development fees and expenses report that local jurisdictions must report by April of each year, beginning in 2003. Future plans for the unit include rewriting the three exams after the new building code is adopted this year. The training programs for the limited building official and accessibility specialist will be evaluated in September and adjusted according to the new codes. You may contact Mike Fricke, building code rep, at (651) 205-4802 (voice), (651) 297-1973 (fax), or (e-mail). Building code rep Rich Lockrem can be reached at (651) 205-4803 (voice), (651) 297-1973 (fax), or (e-mail).

Detroit Lakes April 17 Aug. 15 Oct. 17 Dec. 12 St. Paul – April 13, June 22, July Grand Rapids April 25 Aug. 29 Oct. 31 Mankato May 3 Sept. 19 Nov. 21

June 5 – Maplewood – Last BCSD Spring Building Code Seminar. Contact Don Sivigny at (651) 2973600 for details. June 7 – Detroit Lakes – spray foam insulation. Contact Mark Kuehne at (218) 847-8010.


and plumbing codes. Contact Keith Willie at (651) 464-3550.

July 16 – St. Paul – BCSD seminar on IBC amendments. Contact Deanna Christiansen at (612) 338-6763. July 17 – Redwood Falls – BCSD seminar on Code Administration Services Unit. Contact Russell Thornberg at (507) 2389461. July 25 – Duluth – all-day summer outing on IBC amendments. Contact Keith Willie at (651) 464-3550.


13, Aug. 24, Oct. 5, Nov. 16, Dec. 21

June 18 - 20 – Rochester – League of Minnesota Cities Conference. Contact Rebecca Erickson at (651) 281-1222. June 20 – Maplewood – mechanical

New law limits requirements for signature, certification on building construction documents

* “Signature” includes an actual or facsimile signature, proof of certification or licensing, the certificate or license number, and the date the document was signed.



plans specifications plats reports other documents

ov. Ventura has signed into law amendments to M.S. § 326.12, Subd. 3, an existing statute regarding certification and signature requirements for documents, including building construction documents. The new law became effective March 16. The new law requires a signature and certification only on final documents, not on preliminary or draft documents. Each sheet of drawings and plans must be certified and signed, but only the first page of specifications, plats, reports, and other similar documents. This part of the law is consistent with current standard practice. The new law specifically allows stamped, printed, or electronically created signatures to have the same effect as an actual signature, which is a significant change from current practice. Here’s the language of the law, with underlined words being new language to the existing statute and stricken words being deleted language. For example, in the first line “drawing” is new language added by the legislature; language in the middle of the paragraph is stricken, meaning that it was old language deleted by the legislature. Subd. 3. [CERTIFIED SIGNATURE.] Each plan, drawing, specification, plat, report, or other document which under sections 326.02

to 326.15 is prepared by a licensed architect, licensed engineer, licensed land surveyor, licensed landscape architect, licensed geoscientist, or certified interior designer must bear the signature of the licensed or certified person preparing it, or the signature of the licensed or certified person under whose direct supervision it was prepared. Each signature shall be accompanied by a certification that the signer is licensed or certified under sections 326.02 to 326.15, by the person’s license or certificate number, and by the date on which the signature was affixed. The provisions of this paragraph shall not apply to any plans, drawings, specifications, plats, reports, or other documents of an intraoffice or intracompany nature. A government agency or local unit of government need sign and certify only the title page or first page of a highway construction document that is described in this subdivision; provided that all other pages must have printed or stamped on them a facsimile signature and the information required by this subdivision. The stamp or printed signature has the same force and effect as an actual signature or that are considered to be drafts or of a preliminary, schematic, or design development nature by licensed or certified



YES, except for intraoffice and intracompany documents.

final plans final drawings final specifications final plats final reports other documents draft or preliminary, schematic, design development, or intraoffice or intracompany: plans drawings specifications plats reports other documents




YES, on every page of the document.

YES, on the first page only.


individuals who would normally be responsible for their preparation. The required signature and certification must appear on all pages of plans and drawings that must be signed, but only on the first page of specifications, plats, reports, or other documents that must be signed. A stamped, printed, or electronically created signature has the same force and effect as an actual signature if it creates an accurate depiction of the licensed or certified professional’s actual signature. You may contact Dan Kelsey, Building Codes’ structural engineer, at (651) 205-4210 (voice), (651) 297-1973 (fax), or (e-mail).


CODES TURN 30keeps expanding our role THIS YEAR We started small, but legislature
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Wendell Anderson was governor, the state legislature had turned itself into an annual instead of biennial meeting group to handle the growing needs of government, and Richard Brubacher was commissioner of the Department of Administration. Herbert W. Meyer, a Bloomington official who helped craft the legislation creating the code and its division, was the first state building official and was considered by many to be the “Father of the State Building Code.” Herb was very active in the ICBO and served in many capacities, including chairman of the board. The North Star Chapter of the ICBO founded the annual “Herb Meyer

Thirty years

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From the directors

eliminated while at the same time the code has expanded to address emerging issues. The code has grown in size and complexity to accommodate new products and Peggi White Elroy Berdahl methods of construction. Building designs over the years have also become far more Bloomington, and included the Uniform complex. Emerging issues – such as energy Building Code. conservation and the national recognition that Existing building officials were buildings need to be accessible for persons “grandfathered” into the new system with disabilities – have created enforcement without certification by the state, duties for local code officials that were not although most of them pursued state present when the division first started. certification. At the time, certification To accommodate the change in the was earned through written and oral code and our industry, division staff also exams. changed focus. We have increased our Individual users had little input into services to the construction industry as the earlier processes, according to Elroy a whole. In the beginning, with a staff Berdahl, who began work at the division of five, the focus was to get a state code in 1972. Today, Elroy supervises the Award” in his honor in the 1970s. adopted, certify code officials, and establish Manufactured Homes and Elevator Given for “achievement in the field a code advisory committee. Today the Safety sections of the division. The of code enforcement and support of division is involved in plan review and Administrative Procedure Act, passed in inspection of certain buildings, regulation chapter activities,” the award has been given to two current division employees the ’70s, demands input from everyone of manufactured structures, education – Tom Joachim, State Building Official, involved and plenty of time for review. and training for industry professionals, “The first code was based on historical and Tom Anderson, assistant director. code interpretation advisories, code data – if a requirement worked in the The law also created a Building official certification, issuing permits and past, we adopted it,” said Elroy. “Today, conducting inspections on elevators, Code Standards Committee, made up with input from engineers, architects, of representatives from the industry regular updating of the code, public and all the other experts, the process is and the public – similar to today’s information outreach, and investigation of far more analytical.” Construction Codes Advisory Council customer construction complaints. Our one Peggi White, the division’s – who determined the contents of the state advisory committee has expanded to business manager, began working in first building code. nine actively working on the newest state the division a couple of years after This was intended to provide building code to be adopted later this year. Elroy. She recalled the “nightmare” of uniformity and equality throughout I have watched the state code program typing and retyping the code on electric develop since its inception and, although Minnesota for the building industry. typewriters. “If someone had a lastMore than 250 building codes existed improvements are still needed, can say that minute change, we had to start over. throughout the state, a frustrating we have made great strides over the years. Today’s word processors make it so condition for contractors, developers, So, while we identify issues and plan much easier,” she said. and material suppliers who had to future improvements in the code to deliver At least one thing hasn’t changed. follow a different set of rules for each safe, healthy, affordable, good-quality community they worked in. The “You can imagine what ran through my buildings for our citizens, let’s all take a new code was a combination of mind when I was first asked for a ‘B.O.’ moment on July 1 to reflect and celebrate the best parts of the local codes certification,” Peggi said. Here at the what has been accomplished in the 30-year state, “B.O.” is still the term of art. in St. Paul, Minneapolis, and history of the State Building Code.


The Minnesota Building Codes and Standards Division recently completed its Spring 2002 Manufactured Home Seminars at seven locations in the state. Licensed manufactured home dealers, installers, manufacturers, certified building officials, and manufactured home park owners attended the seminars. Items discussed were Housing and Urban Development (HUD) law changes and how these changes may affect manufactured homes and onsite inspections of these homes in the future. The seminars also included presentations by State Board of Electricity regional inspectors for electrical issues. Other subjects covered included: • • anchoring equipment and the proper installation of the equipment; foundation construction to state code and installation of manufactured homes on the foundations; an exercise in calculating footing sizes for support of manufactured homes; and plumbing code alterations to manufactured homes.

Manufactured Homes Section is busy at seminars, workshops

Jeff Conner, division accounting technician since 1997, received a Chapter Service Award from the Minnesota Association of Government Accountants in April in recognition of his contributions to the Minneapolis - St. Paul chapter in 2001. Jeff sits on the chapter’s education committee and occasionally writes for the chapter’s newsletter. At BCSD, Jeff handles purchase orders and invoices, equipment maintenance contracts, accounts receivable, accounts payable, and budget reports, among many other accounting assignments.

Thanks for your patience! We’ve crafted our most recent newsletter mailing list from a broad collection of division customer lists. Some of you are on more than one of those lists, but not identifiable as an exact duplicate by our automated database. That’s why you’ve received duplicate copies. To reduce the number of your monthly mailings, e-mail Bobbi Peterson at: fax her at (651) 297-1973), or call her direct at (651) 296-4637. In addition to your name, give Bobbi the codes from the mailing labels of those you want removed from our newsletter mailing list and she’ll take care of it. This will not remove your name from our other customer lists. If you haven’t sent in your newsletter subscription card, don’t forget to do that, too. Thanks!

In May, section personnel attended the HUD/COSAA (Council of State Administrative Agencies) national workshop in San Antonio, Texas. The workshop covered issues of changes to HUD and SAA (State Administrative Agencies) laws and rules for manufactured homes, included discussion of possible solutions to installation problems, and discussed dispute resolution required under changes to the HUD laws. In June, section personnel will attend the HUD/COSAA Midwest regional workshop in Sioux Falls, S.D. The workshop will expand on discussion and training from the national workshop and research areas of onsite construction items encountered with manufactured homes.

In May, Manufactured Homes Section personnel began conducting dealer lot audits of new and used homes to determine code compliance and review licensed dealer records to determine compliance with manufactured home sales laws. Section personnel also began conducting SAA (State Administrative Agencies) audits of Minnesota Manufactured Home Manufacturers’ records to ensure manufacturers’ compliance with HUD regulations.

Manufactured Homes Section begins dealer lot, SAA audits

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Continued from Page 1
Official chapter information booth for the Builders Association Conference at the Minneapolis Convention Center April 4. Twenty-one people took the time to fill out at least part of the fivequestion survey, most of them from the Greater Twin Cities area. Here’s a summary of their responses: Question 1. If you could change one building code requirement, what would it be? How would this change help you? Twenty, or 95 percent, of the persons completing a survey answered the first part of this question. They listed: • • • • • • • • • • energy.


Energy was the most popular topic, mentioned by eight people. They asked for more energy code information for “rank and file people” and for specs to allow for better fresh air in buildings. They commented that “plasticing” off the house is “like putting bread in an airtight bag – moldy.” They mentioned double vapor barrier on foundation walls and “sealing up everything too tight.” Question 2. Do the local communities you normally work in have sufficient staff to provide you with satisfactory plan reviews and inspections? Two-thirds of those filling hurricane clips, out a survey answered this question, 10 making the Uniform Building Code uniform throughout the state saying “yes” and 4 saying “no.” Two mentioned delayed inspections. (2), Question 3. Which is more tempered glass in stairwells, important to you – fast plan review simplifying two-hour wall or short-notice site inspections? assemblies in multi-family structures, Slightly more than half responded to no drywall inspection, this question, with 7 opting for fast fire blocking in finished basements plan review and 5 for short-notice site when unable to use insulation, inspections. railing spacing (3), Question 4. How often do you call a local or state code official with need for silt fence,
electricity, and a question? Using a 1 = poor, 5 =

excellent scale, rate the helpfulness of the usual response. About half responded to at least part of this question. They said they spoke with local code officials between 0 and 10 times a month, with the degree of helpfulness ranging from poor to excellent. Four said they spoke with state code officials, but did not indicate the frequency. The degree of helpfulness ranged from poor to excellent in this group, too. Question 5. Name up to three communities you usually work in. Thirteen respondents named 26 communities, 21 in the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area and five in Greater Minnesota. “It’s a small sample, but it’s a start,” said Assistant Director Tom Anderson. “We need to know what we’re doing right and what not so right, so we can build on our strengths and eliminate the weak spots. This goes for the local building departments as well. If they don’t help their customers, then we’re not doing our job.” The Building Codes and Standards Division aims for continuous improvement of its services, Tom said.