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A History of the Department of Codes Administration
The original Rutherford County Zoning Resolution adopted in 1962 created the Office of Building Commissioner of Rutherford County, Tennessee. The provisions of the resolution were administered and enforced by the Building Commissioner appointed by the Rutherford County Board of Commissioners, who was awarded the power to make inspection of buildings and premises necessary to carry out the duties in the enforcement of the resolution. (Article XXIII, Section 23.01). Permits were issued for construction in Rutherford County for the purpose of zoning setback and zoning compliance only. There were no construction standards established at that time.
In October of 1987 the Rutherford County Board of Commissioners created the Department of Building Codes Inspections. The 1984 Standard Building Code was adopted simultaneously as the inspection code standard. In March of 1988, the Standard Plumbing and Mechanical Codes were also adopted.
The original staff consisted of the Director, Assistant Director, two clerical permit officers, and three inspectors. The office was located upstairs in 36 North Public Square. Following the county’s purchase of the vacant Goldstein Department Store, One South Public Square, the Building Codes Department moved to office space on the second floor. In 1993, following the renovation of the Goldstein Building first floor, the office moved downstairs to room 101. Presently the Rutherford County Office Building at One South Public Square contains all agencies that are involved in the Building Permit process including the State of Tennessee Department of Conservation and Environment for septic tank permits (Room 200) and State of Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance, Electrical Permit Division for the issuance of electrical permits for the non-incorporated areas of Rutherford County, Smyrna and LaVergne (Room 110).
In 1987 the Construction Board of Adjustment and Appeals was appointed to hear appeals of decisions and interpretations of the building official and consider variances of the technical codes. The Board consists of seven members and two alternates. Appointments take into consideration all technical aspects of the construction trade. The applicable governing body appoints the Board and meets on an as needed basis with an annual meeting in January of each year.
In order to obtain a building permit from Rutherford County Building Codes Department a general contractor must be licensed and bonded with the State of Tennessee General Contractors Licensing Board. A current copy of the State license is kept on file at all times in the department.
An act of the Tennessee General Assembly for the Sate of Tennessee in 1993, provided legislation that created the Home Improvement Licensing Act, which would apply anywhere in the State of Tennessee in a county which adopts it by its own legislative body. Rutherford County adopted the “Home Improvement Act” effective October 1993. This consumer protection bill, specifically Section 102 states: It is the purpose of the general assembly in enacting this chapter to safeguard and protect the homeowner against abuses by home improvement contractors through regulating the home improvement business and by the licensing of person engaged in such business. [Acts 1988, ch. 851. §2.] The law requires home improvement contractors performing home improvement work of the value of three thousand dollars ($3,000.00) to twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000.00) to obtain a license. In addition, a surety bond in the amount of $10,000.00 is required. In cases where the consumer incurs damages due to faulty workmanship or lack of performance the consumer may recover against the bond. This licensing is in addition to the General Contractor’s License, which is required for construction work greater than twenty five thousand dollars.
Effective July 1, 1994, Rutherford County did adopt in accordance with the State Law, TCA 13-19-106, which requires each local government to adopt the Model Energy Code. This code mandates minimum insulation standards for energy efficiency for residential and commercial construction. Notarized energy code compliance affidavits are required for all new residential and commercial construction.
The State of Tennessee, in 1995, mandated that all persons contracting provide the Codes department with evidence of valid and current coverage of Worker’s Compensation insurance for each permit obtained. It is the responsibility of the Codes Department to maintain these worker’s compensation insurance records.
Also in 1995 the General Assembly of the State of Tennessee enacted Title 68, Chapter 120 relative to building regulation and inspection requiring all building inspection and regulation officers obtain certification from the State of Tennessee Fire Marshall’s Office. The certification requires testing and certification in various levels of building codes by the Standard Building Code Congress, International. Upon receipt of the SBCCI certification the inspector is then licensed to perform standard building code inspections. This law mandated all jurisdictions across the State of Tennessee that have adopted building codes inspection programs staff their departments with State Certified Inspectors only. Rutherford County Building Codes Department supplies the Certified Building Inspectors for the City of Eagleville as well as the non-incorporated areas of the County. All other jurisdictions have their own certified inspectors.
The construction industry within the non-incorporated areas of Rutherford County has experienced tremendous growth in the last four years. Rutherford County has consistently been third in the State behind Shelby and Knox County for new housing starts. In the fiscal year 1995-96 Rutherford County alone issued 1071 Single Family Dwelling permits. In 1996-97 – 905 Single-Family Dwelling permits were issued.
July 1, 1996, Rutherford County adopted a private act establishing the collection of fees for new residential development within all of Rutherford County. This is referred to as the “Development Tax” which is established as a flat fee totaling one thousand, five hundred dollars ($1,500.00) per dwelling unit. These fees are paid prior to the issuance of a building permit and collected by the Building Codes Department and Planning Dept.
The Department of Codes Administration is composed of six principal divisions, including Administrative, Plans Examination, Building, Housing, Zoning and Development Tax collection, with a Director, a staff of eleven.
Since the department was created there have been two directors as follows: William F. Travis (1987-1991) and David H. Jones (1991-Present).
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