Commerical plan retention in California

John is right Smile

California Health and Safety Code Section 19850

The building department of every city or county shall maintain an official copy, which may be on microfilm or other type of photographic copy, of the plans of every building, during the life of the building, for which the department issued a building permit.

"Building department" means the department, bureau, or officer charged with the enforcement of laws or ordinances regulating the erection, construction, or alteration of buildings.

Except for plans of a common interest development as defined in Section 1351 of the Civil Code, plans need not be filed for:
a) Single or multiple dwellings not more than two stories and
basement in height.
b) Garages and other structures appurtenant to buildings
described under subdivision (a).
(c) Farm or ranch buildings.
(d) Any one-story building where the span between bearing walls does not exceed 25 feet. The exemption in this subdivision does not, however, apply to a steel frame or concrete building.
Related Question

Our current California Residential Section R106.5 puts a 180 day time frame for retention of plans unless state or local requirements are more restrictive. It doesn't look like HCD adopted that specific section. Where is the requirement for retention of single family buildings, or is there one?
This provokes a question about 'why' and 'how costly'?

Certainly having historic plans is of some value to a property owner (who could save plans of what has been built, is s/he desires to do so for his/her own benefit). BUT, is this something that should be a function of, or burden on the taxpaying public?

Can anyone shed light on why the government feels it necessary to create these permanent records, at significant cost (both immediate and long term)?

What public benefit - in terms of essential considerations (i.e. life, health, safety) does this program achieve?

Over time those records become moot (except that they may have value to litigants within the 10 year statute of repose in California).

In emergency situations these 'permanent records' are not really immediately accessible for hostage or terrorist plot mitigation or explosion/fire reaction, etc. - as you might think if you watch too many action movies. Have you ever tried to actually get access to the permanently-stored plans of an old building - to say nothing of nights/weekends when no public servants in responsible agencies are even on call... you get the picture.

In an era of strained economics, is this a program that is truly needed for the public betterment - one that is justified at public expense - or one that could be eliminated without a real impact on public health and safety?

Does anyone even know how much this program costs - bottom line - over and above the 'file maintenance' fees charged to permit applicants (which clearly cannot fund this function in whole - short- or long-term)?

I'd be interested in hearing others' thoughts on this.
hil
hil,
Primary use for permanent plan retention is to have the "approved" plan configuration of the building for comparison to proposed work on future permits. The next use is for code enforcement on what is "supposed" to be the building configuration.
The only other benefits are to other agencies needing access for things like fire attack. Mostly these days the fire departments have a quick retrieval data system for the floor plans and pertinent construction info (wood frame, etc).
Minor benefit to the Owner for "baseline" if proposed alterations or additions contemplated.
Good point on costs, especially for paper records. Most mid to large size BDs in the SF bay area are now using electronic storage such as pdf files.
Jim, as devil's advocate, my thoughts below:

quote:
Originally posted by Jim Fruit:
hil,
Primary use for permanent plan retention is to have the "approved" plan configuration of the building for comparison to proposed work on future permits.

Not necessary. When applicants seek to do new work they have the obligation to provide 'existing' and 'proposed' plans. The jurisdiction does not need to look up old plans (which may not be accurate, or may not reflect changes since original construction) in reviewing or approving proposed new work.

The next use is for code enforcement on what is "supposed" to be the building configuration.

What is this... ? What ordinary code enforcement activities would require use of archived plans? I suppose this is a possibility, but probably not essential, since if a violation is noticed, it would be the burden of the building owner to provide an explanation or historic documents addressing what the building official currently sees as a problem.

The only other benefits are to other agencies needing access for things like fire attack. Mostly these days the fire departments have a quick retrieval data system for the floor plans and pertinent construction info (wood frame, etc).

Other than major structures, the FD doesn't need plans for reference during a fire event. FD's are familiar with most buildings on their watch by virtue of their own plan-check and permit records as well as their ongoing periodic inspections of the premises (specifically done for the purpose of ensure staff familiarity with the lay of the land, potential hazards, etc.) If they are going electronic, all the better... but they can reference their own electronic files and don't need the building department archives for that purpose.

Minor benefit to the Owner for "baseline" if proposed alterations or additions contemplated.

See comment above. Owners should maintain their own plans, and can't rely on possibly outdated archived plans when proposing new work. Even when they have plans in hand they must do field verifications/surveys of existing work. I don't see the necessity of the taxpayers picking up the tab for the benefit of a few owners that have been stupid enough to dispose of all their own plans and other records.

Good point on costs, especially for paper records. Most mid to large size BDs in the SF bay area are now using electronic storage such as pdf files.
Do you think the applicants that pay the fees are not 'taxpayers' in the broad sense? If not, then consider my comment to read "increased costs to taxpayers, applicants and eventual building users". The system adds costs to construction, and that eventually flows downhill to all.

If you think the 'plan maintenance fee' that is charged to applicants covers the costs of the plan retention system I'd like to talk to you about a bridge I own.

Costs include - intake staff time, supervision, management, regulation/protocol development (and preparation/production of associated materials for employees' and applicants' use), infrastructure (active facilities, systems, overhead), long term storage and retrieval, record-keeping and updating, IT systems and maintenance costs (if done electronically), etc.

I am not an advocate of eliminating programs that have a supportable rationale and end result that justifies the costs. All I am saying is that sometimes systems evolve and grow over time without re-examination of the rationale/need. Given that in our electronic age, building owners can (and should) maintain records on their own - and actual ongoing use of such records retained by B&S long term may not justify continuation (or further growth) - maybe this is a program that could be scaled back.

If FD needs plans, then they can rely on their own system.

If historians or others want records, and if that purpose justifies the retention program, then perhaps fees for those seeking access to the records should reflect actual total costs. Presently the charges for 'plan maintenance' pale against actual costs. Perhaps the logical solution is to continue keeping records, but substantially increase fees for same. Of course, someone still has to pay, and this increases costs of buildings bottom line.

What I'm not hearing (and maybe I'm just not seeing it) are the underlying 'reasons' for the system (reviewed with current needs in mind and not only because that's they way it's been done in the past).

Little things increase costs. We all know it. Sometimes the 'requirement' is really not justified. But we all comply because it's easier than swimming upstream. An example would be the paper and time wasted on including pages' worth of code notes in construction drawings that are nothing more than straight recitations of paragraphs that the local jurisdiction has decided 'should be' on the drawings, but are not really necessary and serve no real purpose. There are numerous such examples, and maybe I'm just sensitive to this after watching for 40+ years the millions of dollars that are wasted on such stuff annually.

hil
Cool First (most likely) you do not have a bridge to sell, but if you do have one, is there a tollbooth and staff to collect the tariff fees at both ends? If so then I may be interested. Roll Eyes

If you feel so deeply about the thief of monies being used for plan retention, change the state laws passed that mandate said. “ California Health and Safety Code Section 19850”

Perceived waste is everywhere, I have issue with people that have never had a job, but have housing, medical coverage, food and money provided by tax $ ‘s.
However that is out of my control as is what it cost to keep an approved set of plans for a commercial building

Regards,
Charles

Add Reply

Likes (0)
×
×
×
×
×