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New Jersey Adopts 2021 Building Code

6 September 2021

Today, New Jersey adopted the 2021 version of the International Code Council (ICC) codes along with updated versions of the National Electric Code, the National Standard Plumbing Code, and other related standards.

New Jersey’s Uniform Construction Code (NJUCC) adopts codes by regulation. The codes are administered by the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) Division of Codes & Standards. They are uniform statewide and local jurisdictions are not permitted to make amendments.

The following is a list of codes currently adopted in New Jersey

International Building Code 2021 (IBC) with New Jersey Edits

National Standard Plumbing Code 2021 (NSPC) with New Jersey Edits

NFPA 70: National Electric Code 2020 (NEC)

International Energy Conservation Code 2021 (IECC) (Low-Rise Residential)
Energy Subcode ASHRAE 90.1-2019 (Commercial and Other Residential)

International Mechanical Code 2021 (IMC)

International Residential Code 2021 (IRC) with New Jersey Edits

International Fuel Gas Code 2021 (IFGC)

NJUCC Subchapter 6 (NJAC 5:23-6)

IBC Chapter 11 & ICC A117.1-2017

New Jersey allows for a 6-month grace period before new codes become mandatory. Complete permit applications (including all prior approvals) submitted by 6 March 2023, may be reviewed under the previous versions of the code. This is the option of the design professional and the applicant, not the code official.

A Few Key Changes to IBC
IBC now defines Mass Timber Construction and permits wood structures constructed of mass timber up to 18 stories tall.

Distilling and brewing of alcoholic beverages has been removed from the “H” high-hazard occupancy classification.

Puzzle rooms are now regulated as special amusement areas.

New scoping requirements to require accessible electric vehicle charging stations

Changes to Accessibility Standards

The Barrier Free Subcode now references the 2017 edition of ICC A117.1. This newer standard includes several important changes the most significant being the larger turning radius and wheelchair parking spaces. The familiar 60” turning radius has been replaced with a requirement for 67” and the wheelchair parking space has been enlarged from 30” x 48” to 30” x 52”. This will result in slightly larger toilet rooms and accessible toilet stalls. These new requirements only apply to new construction and additions. The older smaller numbers still apply to existing buildings.

Stay tuned for more information regarding these important updates. If you have any questions, just ask the code experts at Cornerstone.

Robert M. Longo, AIA

News /

Fire Sprinklers for Rooftop Occupancies

On 21 September 2015, NJ adopted the 2015 ICC series of codes including the International Building Code (IBC). We are currently in the 6 month grace period and transitioning into the new code. All projects submitted for plan review after 21 March 2016 must use these new codes.

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One significant change in the fire sprinkler requirements brings further restriction to occupancies with assembly uses on roofs. We are seeing with more frequency, rooftops being used for lounges, bars, restaurants, passive green space and other similar purposes. Because a roof does not meet the definition of a fire area, protection of the occupants can be less than would be required if the occupancy were located on a floor. Section 903.2.1.6 of the 2015 IBC was added to address this concern. The section states:

When an occupied roof has an assembly occupancy with an occupant load exceeding 100 for Group A-2 and 300 for other Group A occupancies, all floors between the occupied roof and the level of exit discharge shall be equipped with an automatic sprinkler system in accordance with Section 903.3.1.1 or 903.3.1.2.

In simpler terms, in most cases this means; if you put a lot of people on the roof, you are required to install sprinklers in the entire building.

While this provision does not require sprinklers on the roof, it provides additional protection to the occupants on the roof should a fire occur in the building.

In summary, including roof top occupancies in a new building may trigger the need for a fire sprinkler system that might not otherwise be required. Additionally, adding a roof top occupancy to an existing building may require adding sprinklers to the entire building.