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Puerto Rico House receives Construction Code revision report

By on August 21, 2018

SAN JUAN – The Puerto Rico House Economic Development and Planning Committee held a public hearing Tuesday as part of the investigation ordered in Resolution 756 on the revision process of the Puerto Rico Building Code carried out by the Office of Permit Management (OGPe).

Committee Chairman Víctor Parés Otero pointed out the importance of adopting new guidelines to govern construction on the island after Hurricane Maria.

“It is imperative to update the construction standards and design requirements in our jurisdiction after Maria’s passage through our area. According to what OGPe officials informed us at the hearing, the revised codes establish a base speed of 187 miles per hour (mph) to calculate the loads or wind pressures for design,” Parés Otero said in a statement.

In the current building codes, the base speed to calculate those loads is 145 mph, and before 2011, it was 125 mph.

Engineer Héctor Rodríguez Echevarría, acting assistant secretary of OGPe, and inspector Evelyn Moya, said that it was decided to review and adopt 10 codes of the International Code Council (ICC) of 2018 for the local building code and the International Swimming Pool & Spa will be incorporated as an additional code to meet the criteria and design guidelines for this type of construction in Puerto Rico.

Rodríguez Echevarría stressed that given the concern over the negative structural impact given the lack of maintenance of structures around the island, and the damage to some structures caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria, the International Property Maintenance Code (IPMC) model will be added to the 10 codes to be adopted under the Construction Code of Puerto Rico.

Officials said at the hearing that there are some 75,000 informal structures in Puerto Rico that do not comply with building codes and were not supervised by a certified engineer or architect. They announced that blueprints that comply with the building codes will be will be published online.

In addition to the OGPe, the Planning Board, the Telecommunications Regulatory Board, the Electric Power Authority and the Aqueduct and Sewer Authority are part of the committee that is working with the code’s revision. The Engineers & Land Surveyors Association, the Puerto Rico Society of Architects & Landscape Architects, the Home Builders Association and the Fire Bureau are also among the members.

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