Talkin’ Code wtih Andrew Getty

Does a C/O a Guarantee everything is Finished?

Let’s ask the same question in a different way….. Is any building ever really totally 100% finished?

All the inspections that lead up to the issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy [C/O] help to ensure that substantial compliance has been achieved. The magic term or phrase here is substantial compliance. All too often the Code Office is questioned as to why a C/O was issued, or, in the reverse, why a C/O cannot be issued. A building can appear unfinished or appear completely finished. This is typical in any town, village or city.

The C/O merely represents that the structure, on the date of the C/O, along with the mechanical, energy, fire safety, plumbing and electrical aspects, have been designed and installed in substantial conformity to the NYS Code requirements. And that some method of inspection(s) has been carried out by either the Code Office or an approved and recognized third party agency. And furthermore, that the structure on the date on the C/O was safe for occupancy.

Will the issuance of the C/O guarantee that everything is finished? …. Of course not. Here are a number of things that could be left unfinished, but has very little to do with the issuance of a C/O: carpeting, painting, ceramic tile, finish on a concrete floor, kitchen cabinets, trim around windows & doors, storage shelving, light fixtures, landscaping and general cleaning after construction. Many of these items can be left incomplete.

Fire safety and life safety items that impact the structure as a whole, and not just one little place in the structure cannot, and will not, be overlooked. Fire sprinkler systems, fire alarm systems, exit paths, all points of egress, heat and smoke detectors will always trigger a denial for a C/O. Almost anything else can be itemized and corrected in a reasonable length of time. There is quite a bit of discretion on the part of the Code Officer in some cases. Some, common sense, some pure code and life safety.

The Code Office has NOT received any complaints in regards to the new Art Center of Old Forge; however we have received a few questions. Like “how could you grant the C/O if they are not done?” The C/O has been issued, as it should have been. However, not until all fire safety, mechanical, sanitary and certain other features were exhaustively inspected and tested and found to meet minimum standards. The items not yet complete have little or no impact on the facility being safely occupied and used by the staff or the public. In-fact, the facility was substantially ready for a C/O for some time except for only a few things, but those few things were critical to life-safety.……specific to fire alarms, early warning and detection. All those remaining issues were addressed, corrected and verified.

Back to the title of this article, does the issuance of a C/O a guarantee everything is finished? Of course not!! All the things that really do not impact the fire safety, structural, energy efficiency requirements can be in various states of completion.

The Town of Webb Code Office wishes to extend our appreciation to the contractors, architects, engineers, the Art Center Staff and the Board of Directors for all of their efforts [and lack of complaints!!] to bring this facility to the state of readiness to enable this office to comfortably issue the C/O. More often than not, for whatever reason, people often want their C/O long before they are ready…or at least before ‘substantial’ compliance is met. Good Luck Art Center!!!!

Now it’s onto the Property Maintenance Code. Doesn’t this code stuff ever go away??

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