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G.S. 160D-11

LOCAL PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT REGULATION - BUILDING CODE ENFORCEMENT

North Carolina General Statutes, Chapter 160D, Article 11

160D-1101. Definitions.

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As used in this Article, the following terms shall have their ordinary meaning and shall also be read to include the following:
(1) Building or buildings. – Includes other structures.
(2) Governing board or board of commissioners. – Includes the Tribal Council of a federally recognized Indian tribe.
(3) Local government. – Includes a federally recognized Indian tribe, and, as to such tribe, includes lands held in trust for the tribe.
(4) Public officer. – Includes the officer or officers who are authorized by regulations adopted hereunder to exercise the powers prescribed by the regulations and by this Article. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, s. 51(a), (b), (d).)

160D-1102. Building code administration.

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A local government may create an inspection department and may appoint inspectors who may be given appropriate titles, such as building inspector, electrical inspector, plumbing inspector, housing inspector, zoning inspector, heating and air-conditioning inspector, fire prevention inspector, or deputy or assistant inspector, or another title generally descriptive of the duties assigned. Every local government shall perform the duties and responsibilities set forth in G.S. 160D-1104 either by (i) creating its own inspection department, (ii) creating a joint inspection department in cooperation with one or more other units of local government, pursuant to Part 1 of Article 20 of Chapter 160A of the General Statutes, (iii) contracting with another unit of local government for the provision of inspection services pursuant to Part 1 of Article 20 of Chapter 160A of the General Statutes, or (iv) arranging for the county in which a city is located to perform inspection services within the city’s jurisdiction as authorized by G.S. 160D-1104 and G.S. 160D-202.

In the event that any local government fails to provide inspection services or ceases to provide inspection services, the Commissioner of Insurance shall arrange for the provision of inspection services, either through personnel employed by the department or through an arrangement with other units of government. In either event, the Commissioner has and may exercise within the local government’s planning and development regulation jurisdiction all powers made available to the governing board with respect to building inspection under this Article and Part 1 of Article 20 of Chapter 160A of the General Statutes. Whenever the Commissioner has intervened in this manner, the local government may assume provision of inspection services only after giving the Commissioner two years’ written notice of its intention to do so; however, the Commissioner may waive this requirement or permit assumption at an earlier date upon finding that an earlier assumption will not unduly interfere with arrangements made for the provision of those services. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, s. 51(a), (b), (d); 2021-88, s. 1(f).)

 

160D-1103. Qualifications of inspectors.

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No local government shall employ an inspector to enforce the State Building Code who does not have one of the following types of certificates issued by the North Carolina Code Officials Qualification Board attesting to the inspector’s qualifications to hold such position: (i) a probationary certificate, (ii) a standard certificate, or (iii) a limited certificate which shall be valid only as an authorization to continue in the position held on the date specified in G.S. 143-151.13(c) and which shall become invalid if the inspector does not successfully complete in service training specified by the Qualification Board within the period specified in G.S. 143-151.13(c). An inspector holding one of the above certificates can be promoted to a position requiring a higher-level certificate only upon issuance by the Board of a standard certificate or probationary certificate appropriate for such new position. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, s. 51(a), (b), (d).)

 

160D-1104. Duties and responsibilities.

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(a) The duties and responsibilities of an inspection department and of the inspectors in it are to enforce within their planning and development regulation jurisdiction State and local laws relating to the following:

(1) The construction of buildings and other structures.
(2) The installation of such facilities as plumbing systems, electrical systems, heating systems, refrigeration systems, and air-conditioning systems.
(3) The maintenance of buildings and other structures in a safe, sanitary, and healthful condition.
(4) Other matters that may be specified by the governing board.

(b) The duties and responsibilities set forth in subsection (a) of this section include the receipt of applications for permits and the issuance or denial of permits, the making of any necessary inspections in a timely manner, the issuance or denial of certificates of compliance, the issuance of orders to correct violations, the bringing of judicial actions against actual or threatened violations, the keeping of adequate records, and any other actions that may be required in order adequately to enforce those laws. The governing board has the authority to enact reasonable and appropriate provisions governing the enforcement of those laws.

(c) In performing the specific inspections required by the North Carolina Building Code, the inspector shall conduct all inspections requested by the permit holder for each scheduled inspection. For each requested inspection, the inspector shall inform the permit holder of instances in which the work inspected fails to meet the requirements of the North Carolina Residential Code for One- and Two-Family Dwellings or the North Carolina Building Code.

(d) Except as provided in G.S. 160D-1117 and G.S. 160D-1207, a local government may not adopt or enforce a local ordinance or resolution or any other policy that requires regular, routine inspections of buildings or structures constructed in compliance with the North Carolina Residential Code for One- and Two-Family Dwellings in addition to the specific inspections required by the North Carolina Building Code without first obtaining approval from the North Carolina Building Code Council. The North Carolina Building Code Council shall review all applications for additional inspections requested by a local government and shall, in a reasonable manner, approve or disapprove the additional inspections. This subsection does not limit the authority of the local government to require inspections upon unforeseen or unique circumstances that require immediate action. In performing the specific inspections required by the North Carolina Residential Building Code, the inspector shall conduct all inspections requested by the permit holder for each scheduled inspection. For each requested inspection, the inspector shall inform the permit holder of instances in which the work inspected is incomplete or otherwise fails to meet the requirements of the North Carolina Residential Code for One- and Two-Family Dwellings or the North Carolina Building Code. When a subsequent inspection is conducted to verify completion or correction of instances of Code noncompliance, any additional violations of the Code noted by the inspector on items already approved by the inspections department may delay the issuance of a temporary certificate of occupancy, but the inspections department shall not charge a fee for reinspection of those items.

(e) Each inspection department shall implement a process for an informal internal review of inspection decisions made by the department’s inspectors. This process shall include, at a minimum, the following:

(1) Initial review by the supervisor of the inspector.
(2) The provision in or with each permit issued by the department of (i) the name, phone number, and e-mail address of the supervisor of each inspector and  (ii)  a notice of availability of the informal internal review process.
(3) Procedures the department must follow when a permit holder or applicant requests an internal review of an inspector’s decision.
(4) Nothing in this subsection limits or abrogates any rights available under Chapter 150B of the General Statutes to a permit holder or applicant.

(f) (Expires October 1, 2021 – see note) If a specific building framing inspection as required by the North Carolina Residential Code for One- and Two-Family Dwellings results in 15 or more separate violations of that Code, the inspector shall forward a copy of the inspection report to the Department of Insurance. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, ss. 28(a), (b), 51(a), (b), (d); 2021-117, s. 12.5(b); 2021-121, s. 4(a).)

 

160D-1104.1. Remote inspection alternative.

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An inspection department shall implement remote inspection procedures in accordance with criteria and procedures developed pursuant to G.S. 143-139(b)(3). An inspection department must provide the option to elect remote inspections for a project to a building permit applicant. An inspection department must specify the extent to which a project is eligible for remote inspections at the time of building permit issuance. (2021-117, s. 12.5(c).)

 

160D-1105. Other arrangements for inspections.

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A local government may contract with an individual who is not a local government employee but who holds one of the applicable certificates as provided in G.S. 160D-1103 or with the employer of an individual who holds one of the applicable certificates as provided in G.S. 160D-1103. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, s. 51(a), (b), (d).)

 

160D-1106. Alternate inspection method for component or element.

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(a) Notwithstanding the requirements of this Article, a local government shall accept and approve, without further responsibility to inspect, a design or other proposal for a component or element in the construction of buildings from an architect licensed under Chapter 83A of the General Statutes or professional engineer licensed under Chapter 89C of the General Statutes provided all of the following apply:

(1) When required by the North Carolina State Building Code, the submission design or other proposal is completed under valid seal of the licensed architect or licensed professional engineer.

(2) Field inspection of the installation or completion of a component or element of the building is performed by a licensed architect or licensed professional engineer or a person under the direct supervisory control of the licensed architect or licensed professional engineer.

(3) The licensed architect or licensed professional engineer under subdivision (2) of this subsection provides the local government with a signed written document certifying that the component or element of the building inspected under subdivision (2) of this subsection is in compliance with the North Carolina State Building Code or the North Carolina Residential Code for One- and Two-Family Dwellings. The certification required under this subdivision shall be provided by electronic or physical delivery, [and] its receipt shall be promptly acknowledged by the local government through reciprocal means. The certification shall be made on a form created by the North Carolina Building Code Council which shall include at least the following:

a. Permit number.
b. Date of inspection.
c. Type of inspection.
d. Contractor’s name and license number.
e. Street address of the job location.
f. Name, address, and telephone number of the person responsible for the inspection.

(a2) In accepting certifications of inspections under subsection (a) of this section, a local government shall not require information other than that specified in this section.

(b) Upon the acceptance and approval receipt of a signed written document by the local government as required under subsection (a) of this section, notwithstanding the issuance of a certificate of occupancy, the local government, its inspection department, and the inspectors are discharged and released from any liabilities, duties, and responsibilities imposed by this Article with respect to or in common law from any claim arising out of or attributed to the component or element in the construction of the building for which the signed written document was submitted.

(c) With the exception of the requirements contained in subsection (a) of this section, no further certification by a licensed architect or licensed professional engineer is required for any component or element designed and sealed by a licensed architect or licensed professional engineer for the manufacturer of the component or element under the North Carolina State Building Code or the North Carolina Residential Code for One- and Two-Family Dwellings.

(d) As used in this section, the following definitions apply:

(1) Component. – Any assembly, subassembly, or combination of elements designed to be combined with other components to form part of a building or structure. Examples of a component include an excavated footing trench containing no concrete, a foundation, and a prepared underslab with slab-related materials without concrete. The term does not include a system.

(2) Element. – A combination of products designed to be combined with other elements to form all or part of a building component. The term does not include a system. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, ss. 29, 51(a), (b), (d); 2020-74, s. 31.)

 

160D-1107. Mutual aid contracts.

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(a) Any two or more cities or counties may enter into contracts with each other to provide mutual aid and assistance in the administration and enforcement of State and local laws pertaining to the North Carolina State Building Code. Mutual aid contracts may include provisions addressing the scope of aid provided, for reimbursement or indemnification of the aiding party for loss or damage incurred by giving aid, for delegating authority to a designated official or employee to request aid or to send aid upon request, and any other provisions not inconsistent with law.

(b) Unless the mutual aid contract says otherwise, while working with the requesting city or county under the authority of this section, a Code-enforcement official shall have the same jurisdiction, powers, rights, privileges, and immunities, including those relating to the defense of civil actions and payment of judgments, as the Code-enforcement officials of the requesting agency.

(c) Nothing in this section shall be construed to deprive any party to a mutual aid contract under this section of its discretion to send or decline to provide aid to another party to the contract under any circumstances, whether or not obligated by the contract to do so. In no case shall a party to a mutual aid contract or any of its officials or employees be held to answer in any civil or criminal action for declining to send aid whether or not obligated by contract to do so. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, s. 51(a), (b), (d).)

 

160D-1108. Conflicts of interest.

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Staff members, agents, or contractors responsible for building inspections shall comply with G.S. 160D-109(c). No member of an inspection department shall be financially interested or employed by a business that is financially interested in the furnishing of labor, material, or appliances for the construction, alteration, or maintenance of any building within the local government’s planning and development regulation jurisdiction or any part or system thereof, or in the making of plans or specifications therefor, unless he is the owner of the building. No member of an inspection department or other individual or an employee of a company contracting with a local government to conduct building inspections shall engage in any work that is inconsistent with his or her duties or with the interest of the local government, as determined by the local government. The local government must find a conflict of interest if any of the following is the case:

(1) If the individual, company, or employee of a company contracting to perform building inspections for the local government has worked for the owner, developer, contractor, or project manager of the project to be inspected within the last two years.

(2) If the individual, company, or employee of a company contracting to perform building inspections for the local government is closely related to the owner, developer, contractor, or project manager of the project to be inspected.

(3) If the individual, company, or employee of a company contracting to perform building inspections for the local government has a financial or business interest in the project to be inspected.

The provisions of this section do not apply to a firefighter whose primary duties are fire suppression and rescue but who engages in some fire inspection activities as a secondary responsibility of the firefighter’s employment as a firefighter, except no firefighter may inspect any work actually done, or materials or appliances supplied, by the firefighter or the firefighter’s business within the preceding six years. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, s. 51(a), (b), (d).)

 

160D-1109. Failure to perform duties.

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(a) If any member of an inspection department shall willfully fail to perform the duties required by law, or willfully shall improperly issue a building permit, or shall give a certificate of compliance without first making the inspections required by law, or willfully shall improperly give a certificate of compliance, the member shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

(b) A member of the inspection department shall not be in violation of this section when the local government, its inspection department, or one of the inspectors accepted a signed written document of compliance with the North Carolina State Building Code or the North Carolina Residential Code for One- and Two-Family Dwellings from a licensed architect or licensed engineer in accordance with G.S. 160D-1104(d). (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, s. 51(a), (b), (d).)

 

160D-1110. Building permits.

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(a) Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, no person shall commence or proceed with any of the following without first securing all permits required by the State Building Code and any other State or local laws applicable to any of the following activities:

(1) The construction, reconstruction, alteration, repair, movement to another site, removal, or demolition of any building or structure.

(2) The installation, extension, or general repair of any plumbing system except that in any one- or two-family dwelling unit a permit is not required for the connection of a water heater that is being replaced if (i) the work is performed by a person licensed under G.S. 87-21 who personally examines the work at completion and ensures that a leak test has been performed on the gas piping, and (ii) the energy use rate or thermal input is not greater than that of the water heater that is being replaced, there is no change in fuel, energy source, location, capacity, or routing or sizing of venting and piping, and the replacement is installed in accordance with the current edition of the State Building Code.

(3) The installation, extension, alteration, or general repair of any heating or cooling equipment system.

(4) The installation, extension, alteration, or general repair of any electrical wiring, devices, appliances, or equipment, except that in any one- or two-family dwelling unit a permit is not required for repair or replacement of electrical lighting fixtures or devices, such as receptacles and lighting switches, or for the connection of an existing branch circuit to an electric water heater that is being replaced if all of the following requirements are met:

a. With respect to electric water heaters, the replacement water heater is placed in the same location and is of the same or less capacity and electrical rating as the original.

b. With respect to electrical lighting fixtures and devices, the replacement is with a fixture or device having the same voltage and the same or less amperage.

c. The work is performed by a person licensed under G.S. 87-43.

d. The repair or replacement installation meets the current edition of the State Building Code, including the State Electrical Code.

However, a building permit is not required for the installation, maintenance, or replacement of any load control device or equipment by an electric power supplier, as defined in G.S. 62-133.8, or an electrical contractor contracted by the electric power supplier, so long as the work is subject to supervision by an electrical contractor licensed under Article 4 of Chapter 87 of the General Statutes. The electric power supplier shall provide such installation, maintenance, or replacement in accordance with (i) an activity or program ordered, authorized, or approved by the North Carolina Utilities Commission pursuant to G.S. 62-133.8 or G.S. 62-133.9 or (ii) a similar program undertaken by a municipal electric service provider, whether the installation, modification, or replacement is made before or after the point of delivery of electric service to the customer. The exemption under this subsection applies to all existing installations.

(b) A building permit shall be in writing and shall contain a provision that the work done shall comply with the North Carolina State Building Code and all other applicable State and local laws. Nothing in this section requires a local government to review and approve residential building plans submitted to the local government pursuant to the North Carolina Residential Code, provided that the local government may review and approve the residential building plans as it deems necessary. If a local government chooses to review residential building plans for any structures subject to regulation under the North Carolina Residential Code for One- and Two-Family Dwellings, all initial reviews for the building permit must be performed within 15 business days of submission of the plans. A local government shall not require residential building plans for one- and two-family dwellings to be sealed by a licensed engineer or licensed architect unless required by the North Carolina State Building Code. No building permits shall be issued unless the plans and specifications are identified by the name and address of the author thereof, and, if the General Statutes of North Carolina require that plans for certain types of work be prepared only by a licensed architect or licensed engineer, no building permit shall be issued unless the plans and specifications bear the North Carolina seal of a licensed architect or of a licensed engineer. When any provision of the General Statutes of North Carolina or of any ordinance or development or zoning regulation requires that work be done by a licensed specialty contractor of any kind, no building permit for the work shall be issued unless the work is to be performed by such a duly licensed contractor.

(c) No permit issued under Article 9 or 9C of Chapter 143 of the General Statutes is required for any construction, installation, repair, replacement, or alteration performed in accordance with the current edition of the North Carolina State Building Code costing fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000) or less in any single-family residence or farm building unless the work involves any of the following:

(1) The addition, repair, or replacement of load-bearing structures. However, no permit is required for replacement of windows, doors, exterior siding, or the pickets, railings, stair treads, and decking of porches and exterior decks.

(2) The addition or change in the design of plumbing. However, no permit is required for replacements otherwise meeting the requirements of this subsection that do not change size or capacity.

(3) The addition, replacement, or change in the design of heating, air-conditioning, or electrical wiring, devices, appliances, or equipment, other than like-kind replacement of electrical devices and lighting fixtures.

(4) The use of materials not permitted by the North Carolina Residential Code for One- and Two-Family Dwellings. The addition (excluding replacement) of roofing.

(d) A local government shall not require more than one building permit for the complete installation or replacement of any natural gas, propane gas, or electrical appliance on an existing structure when the installation or replacement is performed by a person licensed under G.S. 87-21 or G.S. 87-43. The cost of the building permit for such work shall not exceed the cost of any one individual tradepermit issued by that local government, nor shall the local government increase the costs of any fees to offset the loss of revenue caused by this provision.

(e) No building permit shall be issued pursuant to subsection (a) of this section for any land-disturbing activity, as defined in G.S. 113A-52(6), or for any activity covered by G.S. 113A-57, unless an erosion and sedimentation control plan for the site of the activity or a tract of land including the site of the activity has been approved under the Sedimentation Pollution Control Act.

(f) No building permit shall be issued pursuant to subsection (a) of this section for any land-disturbing activity that is subject to, but does not comply with, the requirements of G.S. 113A-71.

(g) No building permit shall be issued pursuant to subdivision (1) of subsection (a) of this section where the cost of the work is thirty thousand dollars ($30,000) or more, other than for improvements to an existing single-family residential dwelling unit as defined in G.S. 87-15.5(7) that the owner occupies as a residence, or for the addition of an accessory building or accessory structure as defined in the North Carolina Uniform Residential Building Code, the use of which is incidental to that residential dwelling unit, unless the name, physical and mailing address, telephone number, facsimile number, and electronic mail address of the lien agent designated by the owner pursuant to G.S. 44A-11.1(a) is conspicuously set forth in the permit or in an attachment thereto. The building permit may contain the lien agent’s electronic mail address. The lien agent information for each permit issued pursuant to this subsection shall be maintained by the inspection department in the same manner and in the same location in which it maintains its record of building permits issued. Where the improvements to a real property leasehold are limited to the purchase, transportation, and setup of a manufactured home, as defined in G.S. 143-143.9(6), the purchase price of the manufactured home shall be excluded in determining whether the cost of the work is thirty thousand dollars ($30,000) or more.

(h) No local government may withhold a building permit or certificate of occupancy that otherwise would be eligible to be issued under this section to compel, with respect to another property or parcel, completion of work for a separate permit or compliance with land-use regulations under this Chapter unless otherwise authorized by law or unless the local government reasonably determines the existence of a public safety issue directly related to the issuance of a building permit or certificate of occupancy.

(i) Violation of this section constitutes a Class 1 misdemeanor. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, ss. 30, 51(a), (b), (d).)

 

160D-1111. Expiration of building permits.

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A building permit issued pursuant to this Article expires by limitation of six months, or any lesser time fixed by ordinance, after the date of issuance if the work authorized by the permit has not been commenced. If, after commencement, the work is discontinued for a period of 12 months, the permit shall immediately expire. No work authorized by any building permit that has expired shall be performed until a new permit has been secured. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, s. 51(a), (b), (d); 2021-88, s. 1(g).)

 

160D-1112. Changes in work.

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After a building permit has been issued, no changes or deviations from the terms of the application, plans and specifications, or the permit, except where changes or deviations are clearly permissible under the State Building Code, shall be made until specific written approval of proposed changes or deviations has been obtained from the inspection department. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, s. 51(a), (b), (d).)

 

160D-1113. Inspections of work in progress.

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Subject to the limitation imposed by G.S. 160D-1104(d), as the work pursuant to a building permit progresses, local inspectors shall make as many inspections thereof as may be necessary to satisfy them that the work is being done according to the provisions of any applicable State and local laws and of the terms of the permit. In exercising this power, members of the inspection department have a right to enter on any premises within the jurisdiction of the department at all reasonable hours for the purposes of inspection or other enforcement action, upon presentation of proper credentials. If a building permit has been obtained by an owner exempt from licensure under G.S. 87-1(b)(2), no inspection shall be conducted without the owner being present, unless the plans for the building were drawn and sealed by an architect licensed pursuant to Chapter 83A of the General Statutes. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, ss. 31, 51(a), (b), (d).)

 

160D-1114. Appeals of stop orders.

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(a) The owner or builder may appeal from a stop order involving alleged violation of the State Building Code or any approved local modification thereof to the North Carolina Commissioner of Insurance or his designee within a period of five days after the order is issued. Notice of appeal shall be given in writing to the Commissioner of Insurance or his designee, with a copy to the local inspector. The Commissioner of Insurance or his or her designee shall promptly conduct an investigation, and the appellant and the inspector shall be permitted to submit relevant evidence. The Commissioner of Insurance or his or her designee shall as expeditiously as possible provide a written statement of the decision setting forth the facts found, the decision reached, and the reasons for the decision. Pending the ruling by the Commissioner of Insurance or his or her designee on an appeal, no further work shall take place in violation of a stop order. In the event of dissatisfaction with the decision, the person affected shall have the following options:

(1) Appealing to the Building Code Council.
(2) Appealing to the superior court as provided in G.S. 143-141.

(b) The owner or builder may appeal against a stop order involving alleged violation of a local development regulation as provided in G.S. 160D-405. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, s. 51(a), (b), (d).)

 

160D-1115. Revocation of building permits.

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The appropriate inspector may revoke and require the return of any building permit by notifying the permit holder in writing stating the reason for the revocation. Building permits shall be revoked for any substantial departure from the approved application, plans, or specifications; for refusal or failure to comply with the requirements of any applicable State or local laws; or for false statements or misrepresentations made in securing the permit. Any building permit mistakenly issued in violation of an applicable State or local law may also be revoked. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, s. 51(a), (b), (d).)

 

160D-1116. Certificates of compliance; temporary certificates of occupancy.

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(a) At the conclusion of all work done under a building permit, the appropriate inspector shall make a final inspection, and, if the completed work complies with all applicable State and local laws and with the terms of the permit, the inspector shall issue a certificate of compliance. Except as provided by subsection (b) of this section, no new building or part thereof may be occupied, no addition or enlargement of an existing building may be occupied, and no existing building that has been altered or moved may be occupied, until the inspection department has issued a certificate of compliance.

(b) A temporary certificate of occupancy may be issued permitting occupancy for a stated period of time of either the entire building or of specified portions of the building if the inspector finds that the building may safely be occupied prior to its final completion. A permit holder may request and be issued a temporary certificate of occupancy if the conditions and requirements of the North Carolina State Building Code are met.

(c) Any person who owns, leases, or controls a building and occupies or allows the occupancy of the building or a part of the building before a certificate of compliance or temporary certificate of occupancy has been issued pursuant to subsection (a) or (b) of this section is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, ss. 32, 51(a), (b), (d).)

 

160D-1117. Periodic inspections.

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The inspection department may make periodic inspections, subject to the governing board’s directions, for unsafe, unsanitary, or otherwise hazardous and unlawful conditions in buildings or structures within its planning and development regulation jurisdiction. In exercising this power, members of the department shall have a right to enter on any premises within the jurisdiction of the department at all reasonable hours for the purposes of inspection or other enforcement action, upon presentation of proper credentials. Inspections of dwellings shall follow the provisions of G.S. 160D-1207. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit periodic inspections in accordance with the State fire prevention code or as otherwise required by State law. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, s. 51(a), (b), (d).)

 

160D-1118. Defects in buildings to be corrected.

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When a local inspector finds any defects in a building, or finds that the building has not been constructed in accordance with the applicable State and local laws, or that a building because of its condition is dangerous or contains fire hazardous conditions, it shall be the inspector’s duty to notify the owner or occupant of the building of its defects, hazardous conditions, or failure to comply with law. The owner or occupant shall each immediately remedy the defects, hazardous conditions, or violations of law in the property. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, s. 51(a), (b), (d).)

 

160D-1119. Unsafe buildings condemned.

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(a) Designation of Unsafe Buildings. – Every building that shall appear to the inspector to be especially dangerous to life because of its liability to fire or because of bad condition of walls, overloaded floors, defective construction, decay, unsafe wiring or heating systems, inadequate means of egress, or other causes shall be held to be unsafe, and the inspector shall affix a notice of the dangerous character of the structure to a conspicuous place on the exterior wall of the building.

(b) Nonresidential Building or Structure. – In addition to the authority granted in subsection (a) of this section, an inspector may declare a nonresidential building or structure within a community development target area to be unsafe if it meets all of the following conditions:

(1) It appears to the inspector to be vacant or abandoned.
(2) It appears to the inspector to be in such dilapidated condition as to cause or contribute to blight, disease, vagrancy, or fire or safety hazard, to be a danger to children, or to tend to attract persons intent on criminal activities or other activities that would constitute a public nuisance.

(c) Notice Posted on Structure. – If an inspector declares a nonresidential building or structure to be unsafe under subsection (b) of this section, the inspector must affix a notice of the unsafe character of the structure to a conspicuous place on the exterior wall of the building. For the purposes of this section, the term “community development target area” means an area that has characteristics of an urban progress zone under G.S. 143B-437.09, a “nonresidential redevelopment area” under G.S. 160A-503(10), or an area with similar characteristics designated by the governing board as being in special need of revitalization for the benefit and welfare of its citizens.

(d) Applicability to Residential Structures. – A local government may expand subsections (b) and (c) of this section to apply to residential buildings by adopting an ordinance. Before adopting such an ordinance, a local government shall hold a legislative hearing with published notice as provided by G.S. 160D-601. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, s. 51(a), (b), (d).)

 

160D-1120. Removing notice from condemned building.

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If any person shall remove any notice that has been affixed to any building or structure by a local inspector of any local government and that states the dangerous character of the building or structure, that person shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, s. 51(a), (b), (d).)

 

160D-1121. Action in event of failure to take corrective action.

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If the owner of a building or structure that has been condemned as unsafe pursuant to G.S. 160D-1119 fails to take prompt corrective action, the local inspector shall give written notice, by certified mail to the owner’s last known address or by personal service, of all of the following:

(1) That the building or structure is in a condition that appears to meet one or more of the following conditions:

a. Constitutes a fire or safety hazard.
b. Is dangerous to life, health, or other property.
c. Is likely to cause or contribute to blight, disease, vagrancy, or danger to children.
d. Has a tendency to attract persons intent on criminal activities or other activities that would constitute a public nuisance.

(2) That an administrative hearing will be held before the inspector at a designated place and time, not later than 10 days after the date of the notice, at which time the owner will be entitled to be heard in person or by counsel and to present arguments and evidence pertaining to the matter.

(3) That following the hearing, the inspector may issue such order to repair, close, vacate, or demolish the building or structure as appears appropriate.
If the name or whereabouts of the owner cannot, after due diligence, be discovered, the notice shall be considered properly and adequately served if a copy is posted on the outside of the building or structure in question at least 10 days prior to the hearing and a notice of the hearing is published in a newspaper having general circulation in the local government’s area of jurisdiction at least once not later than one week prior to the hearing. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, ss. 33, 51(a), (b), (d).)

 

160D-1122. Order to take corrective action.

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If, upon a hearing held pursuant to the notice prescribed in G.S. 160D-1119, the inspector shall find that the building or structure is in a condition that constitutes a fire or safety hazard or renders it dangerous to life, health, or other property, the inspector shall make an order in writing, directed to the owner of such building or structure, requiring the owner to remedy the defective conditions by repairing, closing, vacating, or demolishing the building or structure or taking other necessary steps, within such period, not less than 60 days, as the inspector may prescribe, provided that where the inspector finds that there is imminent danger to life or other property, the inspector may order that corrective action be taken in such lesser period as may be feasible. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, s. 51(a), (b), (d).)

 

160D-1123. Appeal; finality of order if not appealed.

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Any owner who has received an order under G.S. 160D-1122 may appeal from the order to the governing board by giving notice of appeal in writing to the inspector and to the local government clerk within 10 days following issuance of the order. In the absence of an appeal, the order of the inspector is final. The governing board shall hear an appeal in accordance with G.S. 160D-406 and render a decision within a reasonable time. The governing board may affirm, modify and affirm, or revoke the order. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, ss. 34, 51(a), (b), (d).)

 

160D-1124. Failure to comply with order.

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If the owner of a building or structure fails to comply with an order issued pursuant to G.S. 160D-1122 from which no appeal has been taken or fails to comply with an order of the governing board following an appeal, the owner is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, ss. 35, 51(a), (b), (d).)

 

160D-1125. Enforcement.

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(a) Action Authorized. – Whenever any violation is denominated a misdemeanor under the provisions of this Article, the local government, either in addition to or in lieu of other remedies, may initiate any appropriate action or proceedings to prevent, restrain, correct, or abate the violation or to prevent the occupancy of the building or structure involved.

(b) Removal of Building. – In the case of a building or structure declared unsafe under G.S. 160D-1119 or an ordinance adopted pursuant to G.S. 160D-1119, a local government may, in lieu of taking action under subsection (a) of this section, cause the building or structure to be removed or demolished. The amounts incurred by the local government in connection with the removal or demolition are a lien against the real property upon which the cost was incurred. The lien shall be filed, have the same priority, and be collected in the same manner as liens for special assessments provided in Article 10 of Chapter 160A of the General Statutes. If the building or structure is removed or demolished by the local government, the local government shall sell the usable materials of the building and any personal property, fixtures, or appurtenances found in or attached to the building. The local government shall credit the proceeds of the sale against the cost of the removal or demolition. Any balance remaining from the sale shall be deposited with the clerk of superior court of the county where the property is located and shall be disbursed by the court to the person found to be entitled thereto by final order or decree of the court.

(c) Additional Lien. – The amounts incurred by a local government in connection with the removal or demolition are also a lien against any other real property owned by the owner of the building or structure and located within the local government’s planning and development regulation jurisdiction, and for cities without extraterritorial planning and development jurisdiction, within one mile of the city limits, except for the owner’s primary residence. The provisions of subsection (b) of this section apply to this additional lien, except that this additional lien is inferior to all prior liens and shall be collected as a money judgment.

(d) Nonexclusive Remedy. – Nothing in this section shall be construed to impair or limit the power of the local government to define and declare nuisances and to cause their removal or abatement by summary proceedings or otherwise. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, ss. 36, 51(a), (b), (d).)

 

160D-1126. Records and reports.

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The inspection department shall keep complete and accurate records in convenient form of all applications received, permits issued, inspections and reinspection’s made, defects found, certificates of compliance or occupancy granted, and all other work and activities of the department. These records shall be kept in the manner and for the periods prescribed by the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. Periodic reports shall be submitted to the governing board and to the Commissioner of Insurance as they shall by ordinance, rule, or regulation require. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, s. 51(a), (b), (d).)

 

160D-1127. Appeals.

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Unless otherwise provided by law, appeals from any order, decision, or determination by a member of a local inspection department pertaining to the State Building Code or other State building laws shall be taken to the Commissioner of Insurance or the Commissioner’s designee or other official specified in G.S. 143-139 by filing a written notice with the Commissioner and with the inspection department within a period of 10 days after the order, decision, or determination. Further appeals may be made to the State Building Code Council or to the courts as provided by law. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, s. 51(a), (b), (d).)

 

160D-1128. Fire limits.

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(a) County Fire Limits. – A county may by ordinance establish and define fire limits in any area within the county and not within a city. The limits may include only business and industrial areas. Within any fire limits, no frame or wooden building or addition thereto may be erected, altered, repaired, or moved, either into the fire limits or from one place to another within the limits, except upon the permit of the inspection department and approval of the Commissioner of Insurance. The governing board may make additional regulations necessary for the prevention, extinguishment, or mitigation of fires within the fire limits.

(b) Municipal Fire Limits. – The governing board of every incorporated city shall pass one or more ordinances establishing and defining fire limits, which shall include the principal business portions of the city and which shall be known as primary fire limits. In addition, the governing board may, in its discretion, establish and define one or more separate areas within the city as secondary fire limits.

(c) Restrictions Within Municipal Primary Fire Limits. – Within the primary fire limits of any city, as established and defined by ordinance, no frame or wooden building or structure or addition thereto shall hereafter be erected, altered, repaired, or moved, either into the limits or from one place to another within the limits, except upon the permit of the local inspection department approved by the governing board and by the Commissioner of Insurance or the Commissioner’s designee. The governing board may make additional regulations for the prevention, extinguishment, or mitigation of fires within the primary fire limits.

(d) Restrictions Within Municipal Secondary Fire Limits. – Within any secondary fire limits of any city or town, as established and defined by ordinance, no frame or wooden building or structure or addition thereto shall be erected, altered, repaired, or moved, except in accordance with any rules and regulations established by ordinance of the areas.

(e) Failure to Establish Municipal Primary Fire Limits. – If the governing board of any city shall fail or refuse to establish and define the primary fire limits of the city as required by law, after having such failure or refusal called to their attention in writing by the State Commissioner of Insurance, the Commissioner shall have the power to establish the limits upon making a determination that they are necessary and in the public interest. (2019-111, s. 2.4; 2020-3, s. 4.33(a); 2020-25, s. 51(a), (b), (d).)