May is Building Safety Month

May 3, 2019
| by:
Jennifer Honea

Every year the International Code Council coordinates a campaign to raise awareness about the importance of modern building codes and strong code enforcement. This year’s theme is “No Code. No Confidence.” They want the public to understand what it takes to create safe and sustainable structures. It is accomplished through regularly updated building codes, a strong and efficient system of code enforcement and a well-trained professional work force to maintain the system.

The Building Safety team in Chandler includes 29 staff members with a combined 400 years of experience. Among them, the team holds 126 certifications, two Master's degrees, one juris doctor and a Ph.D.

But what does building safety really mean to you here in Chandler? It should mean peace of mind. When you walk into your local grocery store, office complex or hospital, you probably never think about the actual structure or the features that make it safe. You just enter it with confidence because you know it is not going to fall over. You can thank the team in Chandler’s Building Safety Division for providing you that security. They also rely on the expertise of the Chandler Fire Department’s Fire Prevention unit to ensure that projects meet the fire codes.

Safety starts the moment an applicant submits a request for a permit in Chandler. Construction permit representatives receive applications and gather the associated documents. They triage the submitted applications to ensure completeness, and if acceptable, they route the documents to the respective work group for review. They also will notify the applicant if any corrections are needed.

The building plans examiners review building construction documents for compliance with adopted construction codes and any other laws or ordinances governing construction, remodeling, or repair of structures. Plans are either returned to the applicant for corrections as noted or approved for construction. Chandler reviews encompass, but are not limited to, structural, architectural, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, accessibility, energy conservation and fire suppression regulations.

Once construction begins, building inspectors conduct inspections for compliance with the approved plans at various stages of the construction process. They also can approve minor variations from the plans as long as the variations comply with the pertinent code requirements.

When we talk about building safety, we instinctively think about large-scale projects and commercial structures, but many of the plans that are being reviewed are actually homeowner projects. The team is just as focused on keeping homeowners and their property safe as they are with the commercial projects.

Sometimes the process might seem daunting to those with little exposure to or experience with building regulations. Because really, how often do you plan a room addition or install a fire pit? Staff members try to make the process easy to navigate. A "walk-in" plan review service is offered Monday through Friday from 8-10 a.m. for residential and small commercial projects. This is a designated time that you can drop in, but really you can stop in to ask questions at the front counter anytime from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays -- even if you’re not ready to apply. You also can contact the designated Plan Reviewer of the Day at 480-782-3078 to ask general building code questions.

More helpful information is available in the Homeowners Building Permit Manual. You also can stop by the Development Services counter (215 E. Buffalo St.) to pick up a free copy. It’s an informative brochure that has examples and illustrations of some of the most common homeowner renovations.

The most important thing to know is that staff is here to help. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. The building standards are in place to ensure building safety, to protect you and your property.

During the month of May, there will be a weekly Building Safety theme. Watch for  social media posts and additional blogs on the City website throughout the month for more information:

May 1-5: Preparing for disasters: build strong, build smart
May 6-12: Ensuring a safer future through training and education
May 13-19: Securing clean, abundant water for all communities
May 20-26: Construction professionals and homeowners: Partners in safety
May 27-31: Innovations in building safety

We encourage you to visit this site often during this month and join the conversation on social media by following #BuildingSafety365.