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State of Nebraska Board of Engineers and Architects

FAQ'S Public

The Board

Who is on the Board?

Our Board comprises four professional engineers, three architects, and one member of the public. One architect and one professional engineer are University of Nebraska faculty appointed upon recommendation of the Dean of Architecture or the Dean of Engineering, respectively. All Board members are appointed by the Governor of Nebraska and serve terms of five years. 

What does the Board do?

The Nebraska Board of Engineers and Architects was created in 1937 to regulate the practice of engineering and architecture in the state of Nebraska. We license architects and professional engineers to ensure that those who practice these professions are qualified through education, examination, and experience. We also enforce the laws governing the practice of engineering and architecture. 

What is The Nebraska Engineers and Architects Regulation Act?

The Nebraska Engineers and Architects Regulation Act contains the statutes and regulations that must be adhered to by the public and licensees. You can view the complete set of statues and rules here or request a hard copy at nbea.board@nebraska.gov

 

Working with Licensees

What is a coordinating professional?

A coordinating professional is a member of the design team who coordinates all of the disciplines needed to complete a project. The seal of the coordinating professional does not designate responsible charge for the architectural or engineering work, and also provides a contact for the project for responsible building officials. The Coordinating Professional’s seal must appear on the cover sheet of all documents along with specific identifying language. 

Can professional engineers practice in a discipline other than the discipline on their seal?

Yes, professional engineers may practice in disciplines of engineering other than the discipline noted on their seal if they have the education, training, and experience to do so. If a licensee’s practice is called into question, the individual may be required to provide the Board with evidence that they are competent to practice other disciplines. If a licensee is not competent in an engineering discipline, they are not allowed to practice engineering in that discipline.

How do I know what discipline of practice a professional engineer is?

You may check your discipline of practice for a professional engineer with the Nebraska Board of Engineers and Architects office, or check the Licensee Lookup section of the Board’s website.

Do I need an electrical engineer for the design of electrical work?

It depends on the project. The E&A Regulation Act requires professional engineers to design electrical installations on all non-exempt projects. Master electricians licensed by the State Electrical Board are authorized to “plan, layout or supervise” the installation of wiring, apparatus, or equipment for projects they are installing.

When is a structural engineer needed on a project?

The Board does not specifically determine the guidelines when a structural engineer is required. It is up to the licensees to practice within their education, training and experience. However, a building code official or client may be more stringent than state law and require work to be performed by a professional structural engineer. In that case, the licensee must have a professional structural engineer license.

To confirm a license's discipline, please visit the Licensee Lookup.

 

Exemptions

What does it mean if my project is “exempt”?

An “exempt” project is one that does not require the involvement of a Nebraska-licensed architect or professional engineer. Exempt projects may be designed by non-licensed individuals. A project is “exempt” based on provisions in the E&A Regulation Act and Board rules that primarily reference 1) the project’s Occupancy Classification as described in the International Building Code (IBC) and 2) impacted building area. The exemption limits are listed in the matrix in Rule 10.3 and the Before You Build brochure.

Note: Counties and cities have the authority to be more restrictive than state law. Before building or remodeling, check with local officials to ensure your project is compliant with any local requirements.

Can a residence be renovated without the involvement of a Nebraska-licensed architect and/or professional engineer?

It depends. A single-family through four-family dwelling which does not exceed three stories is exempt only if it meets all three items in the 3-rule test:

1.  The area being renovated is less than the limits provided in Rule 10.3;

2.  The construction does not adversely impact the mechanical or electrical system, structural integrity, or means of egress of any part of the structure; and

3.  Does not change or conflict with the occupancy classification of the existing or adjacent space. Projects containing more than four dwelling units are subject to different requirements.

Can an existing commercial structure be renovated or expanded and not require the involvement of a Nebraska-licensed architect and/or professional engineer?

1.  The area being renovated is less than the limits provided in Rule 10.3;

2.  The construction does not adversely impact the mechanical or electrical system, structural integrity, or means of egress of any part of the structure; and

3.  Does not change or conflict with the occupancy classification of the existing or adjacent space. Projects containing more than four dwelling units are subject to different requirements.

It is not exempt if the structure exceeds 30 feet in height, or exceeds table 503, Type V, column B in the state building code.

If my project has two occupancy classifications (such as storage and business) what occupancy classification does my project fall under?

A structure with two or more occupancy classifications is governed by the exemption limits for the most restrictive occupancy.

For example, a project consists of Storage and Business occupancies. Storage classification has a minimum of 5,000 square feet and Business classification has a minimum of 3,000 square feet. As the Business classification is the most restrictive, the entire project would be considered a Business classification for purposes of the E&A Regulation Act, and a building in size of 3,000 square feet or more would require the involvement of licensees.

What is the Nebraska state building code?

Neb. Rev. Stat. § 71-6403 created the state building code and references the International Building Code (IBC), International Residential Code (IRC), and International Existing Building Code (IEBC).

How do you calculate the square footage of a structure?

The square footage is defined using the "building area" definition in the state building code.

What is "above-grade finished space?"

On a single-family through four-family dwelling, this includes all enclosed, potentially-habitable space on any level, up to a maximum of three levels.

What does "adversely impact" mean?

Adversely impact pertains to any renovations, alterations, or additions to a structure’s mechanical, electrical, or structural system or means of egress. Adverse, by definition, is interpreted to mean “contrary to the public’s interest or welfare; harmful or unfavorable.”

This may include, but is not limited to, the removal/ replacement of a furnace that would require new duct work; the installation of bathrooms that tie into the existing plumbing system; the installation of new breakers in an electrical panel; moving, adding, or removing doors and/or walls that may impact the means of egress.

Why did the Board reduce the square footage requirements for exempted projects on some structures, but not others?

Exemption requirements (defining buildings that can be planned and designed by persons who are not licensed architects or professional engineers) remain the same. However, the size limit is now based on occupancy classification and square footage and described in a matrix in Board Rule 10.3. During negotiated rulemaking, each building type square footage was calculated for the maximum 20-person occupancy and that number was set in the matrix. For example, a church is an 'Assembly' occupancy by definition in the state building code. Assembly occupancies require 50 square feet per occupant; multiply that by 20 occupants and you get a building size of 1,000 square feet. The exemption level of Assembly is now defined as "Less than 1,000 square feet." 

Why did the Board double the square footage requirements for single-family through 4-plex dwellings?

Previously, a detached single-family through four-family dwelling of less than 5,000 square feet of above-grade finished space was exempt from the E&A Act. The formula for determining above-grade finished space was very complicated. Negotiated rulemaking clarified this by including all potentially-habitable space (thus including basements) in the total area, but doubled the area. The exemption matrix now reads that residential structures less than 10,000 sq. ft. are exempt.

 

Not finding the answer to your question? Try FAQ's for Architects and FAQ'S for Engineers.

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