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Commercial Plans & Plan Review: Preliminary Plan Review


Preliminary Code Review Policy and Procedures

1. The value of Preliminary reviews

Since 1996 the Department has actively encouraged design professionals to use Preliminary Code Reviews on their projects, working towards an agreement with the Department on a code complaint strategy as early as possible. There is no charge for preliminary reviews and past Department studies indicated that Architects and Engineers (AE’s) using Preliminary Code Reviews incur 25% fewer defects on their final review. Other benefits of Preliminary Code Reviews include;

  • Offers the opportunity to identify latent code issues perhaps undetected by the initial analysis.
  • Offer the opportunity to request particular code officials, subject to schedule availability.
  • Begins an early dialogue with a code official, cultivating a sense of being part of the project team.

2. Preliminary Review Policy

Effective July 1, 2012, the Department implemented a new policy and supporting procedures with respect to Preliminary Code Review meetings, to assure the scheduling AE’s gain the most benefit from the meeting.

There are two kinds of Preliminary Code Reviews; required and optional.

  • Required Preliminary Code Reviews include the following:
    • Mega projects
    • Daycare projects
    • Hazardous occupancy projects
    • Poor Performing project teams in accordance with the AE Pass Rate Incentives program
    • Unusually complex projects, as stipulated by Commercial Plan Review-Permitting management
    • Meeting notes required on the above. See note 1;
  • Optional Preliminary Code Reviews are those projects that the lead AE is requesting a meeting through the Electronic Plan Management system.

3. Process to Schedule the Preliminary Code Review

Policy components, effective 7/1/2012:

a) All AE’s scheduling preliminary reviews will be required to submit the following advance documentation at least 48 hours before the meeting. This information may be placed on the application for Preliminary review or it may be emailed to the assigned coordinator at least 48 hours before the meeting.

b) In the meeting, AE’s will be asked to bring supporting drawings, and walk the assigned plans examiner thru the Appendix B and plans, before posing the questions e-mailed in advance.

c) If the AE doesn’t submit the advance documentation 48 hours ahead of the meeting, the meeting is cancelled and the AE is advised of same.

d) After the AE submits the advance documentation, it is forwarded to the assigned participating plans examiner(s) for review before the preliminary meeting.

e) The foregoing does not apply to CTAC project discussions or CTAC code interpretation requests.

4. How to Schedule a Preliminary Review

  • Schedule a preliminary review by completing a preliminary review form through our Electronic Plans Management (EPM) system.
  • An OnSchedule Coordinator will schedule the date and it will appear on the EPM dashboard.
  • Availability: Preliminary Review appointments are scheduled on a first come first serve basis. The lead time is generally 1 - 2 weeks depending on the number of requested trades.
  • Video conferencing: video conferencing is available on a case by case basis, with advance notice to confirm the technology setup.

5. How to Get the Most Out of Your Preliminary Review

While the Department encourages the use of Preliminary Code Reviews, we also emphasize that AE preparation for the meeting is critical to success. The AE is responsible for preparing a written code analysis (sometimes also called a code logic summary or Appendix B of the project outlining both the project scope as well as the related building attributes. The AE is also responsible for facilitating the meeting, and preparing an agenda, presenting the project’s overall code compliance strategy, and following with key issues or code questions the AE wishes to confirm. This allows the assigned Code Official to gain sufficient project information to answer questions more accurately. It is unacceptable to simply unroll a set of drawings in the meeting and ask “what do you think”. This is not a new message, as the Director has emphasized this repeatedly to the local AE community since 1996.

Other steps AE’s can focus on to assure greater success both in the Preliminary Code Review meeting, as well as in the final plan review for permitting, include the following:

  • Schedule your Preliminary Code Review well ahead of time, both assuring access to review slots, and giving yourself sufficient time to prepare the supporting code analysis and drawings.
  • Schedule both your Preliminary Code Review and final review at the same time, requesting the same reviewer(s). This gives you the greatest chance of assuring the final reviewer(s) will also be the person sitting in your Preliminary Code Review, discussing the project and hopefully reaching a “meeting of the minds” on a code compliance strategy, or answers to specific questions.
  • Request the presence of the appropriate disciplines (building, electrical, mechanical, plumbing, zoning, fire, CMU Backflow and Health) but only schedule the discipline reviewers you need. If you’re not certain about EMP/Fp or other issues, ask your project engineer. If scheduling other disciplines in addition to building, the related engineer should attend the meeting.
  • When scheduling required Preliminary Code Reviews for mega projects, this is also the ideal time to develop a Project Permit Master Plan, planning the sequence of delivering various project components for occupancy, the supporting CO strategy and related permitting structure. Be prepared to discuss this sequence in the meeting.
  • Meeting strategy;
    • Bring proposed solutions - the code officials will tell you what they think.
    • Seek agreement on the review, or identify areas requiring revision or further definition.
    • Conclude the meeting by; a) confirming the permit application process, and b) confirming the construction document content to be submitted.
  • Meeting notes are the responsibility of the involved AE’s. If required, they should confirm any agreements or required revisions and include signature lines for participating reviewer(s) to sign off on the meeting notes.
    • Required meeting notes must be submitted through the Electronic Plans Management system within 5 business days of the preliminary review meeting.
    • The participating plan reviewer(s) will respond within 7 days, (unless they are scheduled out of the office for vacation, etc) concurring with the notes or stipulating differences
  • It may be appropriate for the owner to attend the Preliminary Code Review meeting if the code interpretation will deal heavily with use, process, or materials.

Inquiries on the Preliminary Code Review Policy and Procedures may be directed to any of the following;

  • Your project OnSchedule Coordinator at 980-314-CODE(2633)​.
  • Managers: