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Prefab Office Wall Panels

Mech

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Oct 30, 2009
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2015 IBC in PA

Building owner wants to install several small (less than 500 sf each) office pods in a manufacturing facility utilizing prefabricated wall panels. Wall panels are bolted together on site to create the room and then the structural roof is put on. The structural supports, electrical outlets, and some wiring is hidden behind the wall finish which prohibits access for inspection. Wiring between the prefabricated wall panels is connected via special plugs. The code reviewer has already stated the only way to perform an inspection is to destroy the walls panels for access and is asking the owner (and now me, the RDP) of how these units meet the UCC inspection requirements.

Is there anything in the code that would allow the code official to permit this type of construction without requiring panel destruction for inspection? PA did not adopt chapter 1 of the IBC, but says the majority of the information is in PA's UCC.

Thanks
 

Mech

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Thanks steveray.

Wiring is done at the factory; splices would be visible. Interior structural studs are not visible. There is a W8 sitting on the walls supporting a 9 psf rated roof deck. Would that change your answer? :)
 

steveray

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Special inspector for factory assembled structural pieces?

1704.2.5 Special inspection of fabricated items. Where
fabrication of structural, load-bearing or lateral loadresisting
members or assemblies is being conducted on the
premises of a fabricator’s shop, special inspections of the
fabricated items shall be performed during fabrication.
 

Mech

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Thanks steveray!!!!

I do not get into chapter 17, that is someone else's department for me.
 

cda

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The manufacture should have documentation to help

and step by step assembly pictures

Which all should make the code official very happy , plus it is Pa.
 

Rick18071

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Maybe the directions show they have a UL or different testing agency seal.

Is your main concern is about the location of studs?
or if any nail plates are needed where wires go through studs?
 

Mech

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The plan review letter states that the code official shall perform inspections to ensure the construction complies with the UCC, that the hidden structural and electrical components cannot be inspected on site without deconstruction, and asks for documentation (I assume PA UCC) of how these units meet UCC inspection requirements.

I was tasked with finding documentation or some sort of exception to allow the owner to install these products that have already been purchased.
 

Keystone

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Reiterate what others have stated, pictures during the build process may assist and if the panels have been factory inspected by an ICC certified inspector who documented the inspection would also be of assistance. If the panels have been inspected by an ICC certified inspector, to what code/yr?
 

Mech

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Reiterate what others have stated, pictures during the build process may assist and if the panels have been factory inspected by an ICC certified inspector who documented the inspection would also be of assistance. If the panels have been inspected by an ICC certified inspector, to what code/yr?
 

Mech

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Thanks to all the responses.

Rick - I do not have any concerns. The owner's concern is not being able to install what he has already purchased. The code official is concerned with being asked to allow construction that cannot be inspected.

I think my response to the owner is to ask the code official if they would inspect only one panel after it is disassembled and then purchase another panel to replace the one they destroy. Otherwise, see if the code official would accept an engineer to field inspect the assembly and submit a signed and sealed letter. Lastly, submit plans and build the offices on site with inspections.
 

cda

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Any link to the manufacture ?

What is the biggest size office?

Building have a fire sprinkler system?

Alternate design? / Material route?
 

TheCommish

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Charlton Ma
Treat it like equipment, do you inspect in the connections in the gigantic rooftop unit, I don't. it is a manufactured product probably with a test laboratory having look at the assembly, think of cubical walls with a ceiling. Cubical wall systems have a similar built-in special plug for them. If the building is sprinkled the make sure they extend a head into it and the put singe on the no storage on the top.
 
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Tim Mailloux

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Feb 12, 2018
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Hartford CT
Treat it like equipment, do you inspect in the connections in the gigantic rooftop unit, I don't. it is a manufactured product probably with a test laboratory having look at the assembly, think of cubical walls with a ceiling. Cubical wall systems have a similar built-in special plug for them. If the building is sprinkled the make sure they extend a head into it and the put singe on the no storage on the top.
I was thinking the same thing, how do these 'walls' really differ from system furniture panels?
 

sergoodo

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Wall panels are bolted together on site to create the room and then the structural roof is put on. The structural supports, electrical outlets, and some wiring is hidden behind the wall finish which prohibits access for inspection. Wiring between the prefabricated wall panels is connected via special plugs

Sounds like cubical partitions would get destroyed for inspection in PA.

next step with this code exercise... is that this is a building within a building, separation distance is zero, so the exterior walls need to be rated and no openings allowed
 

ICE

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By the time the code officials get done with this the coffee maker will be in the trash bin. If the entire assembly has a NRTL Listing....ICC ESR....it's perfectly ok. If not, it's perfectly not ok and no amount of destructive inspection will alter that.
 

Mark K

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May 12, 2010
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The issue of inspections should have been addressed during permitting. If the owner had fabricated the panels prior to permitting it suggests that whoever made that decision was not very sophisticated.

I would be curious about the manufacturer of the panels. If they regularly produce panels for buildings then I would have expected them to have addressed this issue before. In California there are special provisions for manufactured housing.

Chapter 17 addresses special inspections which includes a number of non-structural requirements, not the inspections performed by the building department. Ignorance of Chapter 17 is not an excuse.

Whether or not there was an architect or engineer involved is irrelevant. Requiring a letter from an architect or engineer is a CYA reaction. It sounds as if you are asking the engineer or architect to attest to something that he had no direct knowledge of. So if somebody is dumb enough to attest to something they have no knowledge of you will accept it? Be consistent if you will not allow the design professional to perform the inspections normally performed by the building department why is a letter now acceptable?

While the jurisdictions inspectors are ICC Certified the code calls for the jurisdiction to inspect the work not some generic ICC Certified inspectors.
 
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