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Legislative measure filed to review construction code in Puerto Rico

By on November 30, 2017

SAN JUAN – Seeking to revise the Construction Code after the passage of hurricanes Irma and María, the Committee on Economic Development, Planning, Telecommunications, Public-Private Partnerships and Energy of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives began public hearings Tuesday regarding House Joint Resolution 243.

Rep. Luis Pérez Ortiz (Screen capture of www.tucamarapr.org)

The measure, authored by Rep. Luis Pérez Ortiz, which seeks to change or adopt a new Construction Code if necessary, was endorsed by the Planning Board.

The agency’s representative, engineer Víctor Medina, expressed support for the measure’s purpose and indicated that after the devastation caused by the passage of Hurricane María, current codes must be reviewed with empirical data.

“Puerto Rico currently uses the recommendations of the International Code of 2009 and approved by the relevant agencies in 2011,” the engineer added in a written statement.

Likewise, Joel Ayala Hernández, of the Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (Prasa), endorsed the resolution and informed that the public water utility does not object to the Planning Board reviewing said code.

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“Prasa is carrying out works to improve the existing infrastructure, so that it complies with the laws and regulations. Currently, Prasa is governed by the Construction Code of 2011. We understand that this revision should be made considering the climate change scenarios,” he added.

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For his part, the engineer Ian Carlo Serna, executive director of the Permits & Endorsements Management Office (OGPe by its Spanish initials), recognized the intention of the legislation and recommended it should be evaluated in light of the laws in force. He also said Puerto Rico’s Construction Code has not been reviewed in six years and that a committee was being set up to do so.

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“In 2011, OGPe adopted a new Code through Regulation 7965. Said regulation contains the codes of the International Code Council (ICC), with certain amendments to temper them to the physical and geographical conditions of our island,” Serna added.

When asked by the committee Chairman Víctor Parés how many residences do not comply with the building code, the engineer said the estimate is that, since 1998, 75,000 to 90,000 homes do not have building permits.

Parés said the investigation will continue to dispel all doubts regarding the Construction Code.

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