Insights | Kovert Hawkins | Indiana Architecture Firm
JANUARY 3, 2012

The 50 percent rule?

Variance application 11-12-45 to the State Fire and Building Services Commission involved an airplane hangar that is being renovated as a result of damage from a fire.  During the December hearing of the application, several references were made to the effect that since more than 50 percent of the building was being renovated, the entire building must be brought up to the current code.

This triggered a string of questions that remain unanswered.  Where is this rule written?  It does not appear in the General Administrative Rules. Some comments were heard that it was a long-standing "unwritten rule" of the agency.  The idea of an unwritten rule did not appear to be received well by the Deputy Attorney General for the Commission. Fifty percent of what - area, cost, volume, weight of material, man-hours of labor?  Fifty percent as determined by whom, and at what point? For example, if more than 50 percent of non-load bearing interior partitions are being replaced, but the entire building shell, structure and major systems are unaffected (as is often the case in a tenant build-out), does the unwritten rule kick in? 

More discussion expected as this variance was tabled at the December 2011 meeting.

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Indiana Energy Code-Trade Off Method Opinion: "A memo by John Hawkins, prepared at the request of the Indiana Fire and Building Services Commission, regarding whether the Trade-Off Method in ASHRAE 90.1-2007 was allowed under the Indiana Energy Code.