The Final Review

Burnham’s Blog

The Final Review shares the knowledge of Burnham’s experts in building permit expediting and code compliance. Learn about different jurisdictional building permit requirements, and stay up-to-date on the Americans with Disabilities Act and local accessibility standards. Follow the latest in sustainability, including building energy codes and sustainability design developments.

New Chicago Rules Regarding Building Permit Privilege Suspension

Apr 11, 2017 8:00:00 AM

On March 29, 2017, the City of Chicago Department of Buildings (DOB) published new rules regarding the suspension of building permit application privileges and licenses, registrations, and certifications (Rules) by the department. These Rules implement Ordinance 02016-8628, amendments (Amendments) to the Chicago Municipal Code (Code) designed to increase the Building Commissioner’s (Commissioner) ability to suspend building permit privileges and licenses, registrations, and certifications of those who don’t follow the Codes’ requirements. The new Rules became effective on April 8, 2017.


ADA Requirements for Protruding Objects: What is Wrong with This Picture?

Mar 28, 2017 8:00:00 AM

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) contains specific requirements for objects that extend into circulation paths. During ADA compliance walk-throughs, we periodically see conditions that do not fully comply with these standards. It is important to understand the ADA’s requirements for protruding objects to avoid injury to people with visual impairments. See if you can find the violation of the ADA standards for protruding objects in this picture:


The 2018 International Energy Conservation Code: A Rollback of Energy Efficiency Gains?

Sep 29, 2016 8:00:00 AM

The next edition of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), the 2018 version, is currently under development. The draft updates have sparked controversy because some of the new provisions appear to reverse the energy efficiency requirements of earlier IECC editions. Many stakeholders believe each new version of the IECC should improve upon the energy efficiency standards of the prior editions. Net-zero buildings may be attained by 2050 if a 5% energy efficiency gain is achieved when the IECC is updated every three years. Given there are still opportunities to shape the 2018 IECC, different stakeholders are mobilizing to eliminate the proposed energy efficiency rollbacks.


A Look at Hoboken, New Jersey’s Resilient Building Design Guidelines

Sep 15, 2016 8:00:00 AM

In October 2015, Hoboken, New Jersey published its Resilient Building Design Guidelines, intended to increase protection against flooding. Hoboken was severely flooded during Hurricane Sandy, and since that time, has been proactively working to design and build a more resilient city. In our recent post about President Obama’s initiative to promote resilient building codes to respond to climate change, we described a number of national programs supporting ways to mitigate climate change’s impact. We thought we would take a closer look at Hoboken’s Resilient Building Design Guidelines as an example of one program component of a city’s strategy to improve building resiliency.


Creating Resilient Building Codes to Respond to Climate Change

Aug 31, 2016 8:00:00 AM

Stop filling the sandbags….We’re gonna find a better way to manage this thing!

I’m always encouraged to see productive conversation happening at home, in the workplace….and especially with the government authorities that regulate construction activity. There are so many new and more powerful threats that need to be considered in our policy making; therefore, I want to share the Administration’s recent initiative that brings together both public and private programs that are promoting building codes and standards for more resilient and safer buildings.


Gender-Neutral Bathrooms: Code Conflicts?

Aug 10, 2016 8:00:00 AM

A growing number of municipalities are passing laws governing gender-neutral bathrooms. However, we are finding that sometimes the gender-neutral bathroom laws are limited by existing code requirements, particularly those imposed by plumbing codes that need to be updated. In other instances, architectural designs to more easily incorporate gender-neutral bathrooms are conflicting with code requirements. We thought we would take a look at some of the different municipal gender-neutral bathroom ordinances and how codes may be limiting their reach.


The Proposed Illinois Criminal Building Management Offense

May 12, 2016 8:00:00 AM

As of 2017, House Bill 6036 remains re-referred to Rules Committee and there has been no further action.

A controversial bill was introduced in the Illinois General Assembly in February of this year, House Bill 6036 (HB 6036). The bill amends the Illinois Criminal Code by adding a new offense of criminal building management which would be a Class 4 felony. We at Burnham are taking a closer look at this proposed legislation, its background, and the concerns it has raised.


5 Things You Should Know About Hotel Building Permits in Chicago

Mar 9, 2016 9:30:00 AM

Hotel building permits differ from traditional building permits in a variety of ways. In order to meet construction goals and timeframes, it’s important to understand key differentiators of hotel building permits, including hotel licenses, hotel zoning areas and the hotel inspection process. In this post, we’ll share five things you should know about hotel building permits in Chicago.


4 Common New York City Building Code Violations and How to Remove Them

Mar 4, 2016 9:00:00 AM

In New York City, public safety is of the utmost concern. With more than one million buildings in the Big Apple, it is imperative for these structures to adhere to safety regulations and laws that are set forth by the city’s Department of Buildings (DOB). This year the DOB even released an Industry Code of Conduct to better foster “integrity in the construction industry, and recently Mayor de Blasio announced that penalties for serious construction safety mishaps are increasing dramatically. 


4 Simple Solutions to Ensure Project Success in Denver

Jan 14, 2016 8:30:00 AM

Before beginning a project within the City of Denver, it is vital to follow the City’s Building and Zoning Codes for efficient permit approval and a successful project. The Denver permitting process has undergone new development strategies focused on sustainable growth within the city, as well as a new green roof ordinance with requirements for all large new construction projects as well as retrofitting of existing buildings.

Taking your project step by step – and planning ahead for review timelines and other project delays – will keep it on schedule and up to code through the process. In addition, we have listed the four key areas you should be aware of when complying with building codes in the City of Denver.


5 Ways to Overcome Building Code Violations

Dec 2, 2015 8:30:00 AM

Even if you’ve been in the construction business for years, building codes are constantly in flux. Being hit with building code violations doesn’t mean the end of the world for your project, but it does mean that it will take more time, work and effort to get your new building or remodeling project back on track. Building code varies based on local zoning laws and permit processes, so it can be difficult to keep up with everything you need to know to make sure your project runs smoothly. 

At Burnham, our team of code compliance experts has helped thousands of companies come back from building code violations by ensuring compliance with building code, zoning laws and other local requirements. Here are five ways you can overcome building code violations.


Should Chicago adopt the ICC's International Building Code (IBC)?

Nov 30, 2015 1:21:04 PM

The current Chicago Building Code is extremely outdated and not up to speed with technology advances of the 21st century. There has been an ongoing conversation about Chicago adopting the International Building Code due to its many advantages.


California Fire Code 2015: What You Need to Know

Oct 29, 2015 1:40:45 PM

In order to best protect residents, the California fire code is updated on a regular basis. Though many of the requirements stay the same, new additions, edits, and changes are often made annually. For the average investor or builder, these can be hard to keep up with. But here at Burnham Nationwide, we make keeping up with changing codes part of our job.


California Fire Code Requirements See Change

Jan 8, 2015 8:02:00 AM

As of January 1, 2015, several changes to the California Building Code and the California Residential Code have gone into effect. The changes apply to rooftop-mounted photovoltaic systems, also called PV systems, installed on residential, commercial and public buildings. Specifically, the code changes require that all PV systems be tested, listed and identified with a fire classification rating in accordance with UL 1703.

History of UL 1703 and PV Systems

Before 2013, PV systems were only subject to fire testing when they were stand-alone components – not when installed or mounted on a building. In 2013, UL 1703’s fire classification requirements changed, requiring all PV systems be tested for flammability characteristics. This test includes the PV module, the roof rack, and the roof itself, and is to be conducted by one of the Nationally Recognized Test Labs. UL, TUV, CSA and Intertek are all labs included on this list.


Cook County Adopts New Codes; What About Chicago?

Dec 1, 2014 1:55:00 AM


As of January 2015 Chicago will be the only community left in the metropolitan area, as well as the only major US city, that does not use a current model building code for fire and life safety.

On November 19, 2014 the Cook County Board of Commissioners officially approved the ordinance that will update their building codes for unincorporated areas by adopting the 2009 International Residential Code (IRC) for one and two-family dwellings, the 2009 International Building Code (IBC) for multiple dwellings and commercial, and the 2012 International Mechanical Code (IMC). The new Cook County Electrical Code is a combination of three electrical codes: the 1997 Cook County Building and Environmental Ordinance (which was taken from the 1970 Chicago Electrical Code), the current Chicago Electrical Code (from 1999), and the 2011 National Electrical Code (NFPA 70). All should be available on the website soon and will be made effective on January 5, 2015. The 2014 Illinois Plumbing Code and the 2012 (Illinois) International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) have and will continue to govern work in the County.


Commissioning Confusion and the New Illinois Energy Conservation Code

Apr 4, 2013 3:50:00 AM

By far, the most often asked question I have received since the beginning of 2013 has been about the requirements for commissioning in the new Illinois Energy Conservation Code for Commercial and Residential Buildings which became effective on 1/01/13. Although much free training has been done for the design professional community over the past year by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), very little on the subject of commissioning is covered during these day-long programs. Interestingly, the DCEO website does contain a Frequently Asked Questions page with the opinions of the Illinois Energy Office (advisory only), but in the category of Building Commissioning it only indicates “Coming Soon”. However, that is only part of the problem.


Energy Code Alert

Dec 28, 2012 5:20:00 AM

by Christopher Chwedyk AIA, NCARB, CSI, ICC, BOMA


Self-Storage Facilities and the Impact of ADA Building Guidelines

May 9, 2012 5:33:00 AM

When thinking of the Americans with Disabilities Act, passed in 1990 to ensure accessibility of buildings to the physically challenged, the mind often invokes images of public buildings, city structures, restaurants, stores and the like. Often forgotten when thinking of ADA building guidelines are storage facilities. 


In Case of Fire - Use Elevators: Promoting Elevator-Assisted Evacuation

Nov 29, 2010 6:18:43 AM

For decades, plaques have been posted in elevator lobbies urging occupants to use the stairs during a fire. However, it took only 16 minutes on Sept. 11th, 2001 to call into question almost a century of conventional wisdom. In those 16 minutes before the second tower at the World Trade Center was struck, nearly 3,000 occupants were able to evacuate to safety because they USED the elevators. 


To Swing or Not to Swing?

Mar 3, 2009 1:00:00 AM

It is often questioned when a door from a room or space can be sliding or must swing and when it must swing in the direction of egress. Per the Chicago Building Code (CBC) 10(13-160-250), all doors required as exit doors shall swing in the direction of exit travel. This section requires all doors, except those in residential units serving one dwelling unit only, to swing. This section also allows certain doors to not swing in the direction of exit travel, such as such as those to corridors from rooms having a capacity not exceeding 50 persons and in Business Units, doors to corridors from offices having a capacity not exceeding 100 persons.