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State of Nebraska Board of Engineers and Architects

Frequently Asked Questions

Licensing/Practice Issues

What are temporary permits?

Temporary permits allow an individual licensed in another jurisdiction to obtain a one-time use permit to practice in the state on a single project for a definite period of time. Outside of these circumstances, the individual must obtain a license in Nebraska.

Can a temporary permit be used for an organization to obtain a Certificate of Authorization?

Yes, a temporary permit holder can be the architect or professional engineer in responsible charge (AIC or EIC) for purposes of obtaining a certificate of authorization. An organization itself will not be issued a temporary permit.

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, but provides a contact for the project. Review Chapter 6 in the Board's rules and regulations for more guidance.

What does "licensed by discipline" mean? Can professional engineers practice in a discipline other than the discipline on their seal?

Professional engineers in Nebraska are licensed by discipline of examination. If you have passed the Civil PPE, then you will be licensed as a Professional Civil Engineer and your seal will be designated as such. Professional engineers may practice in other disciplines of engineering different 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 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.

Note: Be advised, local jurisdictions may be more stringent than state laws. You are required to comply with all regulations and statutes within your jurisdiction.

How do I know what my discipline of practice is, and do I need to update my seal?

You may check your discipline of practice as a professional engineer with the Nebraska Board of Engineers and Architects office, or check the Licensee Lookup section of the Board’s website. And yes, all seals must have the specific discipline listed between professional and engineer; i.e., Professional Electrical Engineer.

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

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 request the seal of a professional structural engineer. In that case, the licensee must have a professional structural engineer license.

 


Continuing Education

How are hours calculated for CEUs?

  • 1 actual hour = at least fifty (50) minutes of instruction
  • 0.1 CEU = 1 PHD/PDU = 1 actual hour
  • 1 semester credit hour of formal education = 45 actual hours
  • 1 quarter credit hour of formal education = 30 actual hours

Are courses pre-approved and what can I use?

The Board does not pre-approve any form of continuing education. It is up to the licensees to determine if the continuing education event applies to their discipline and if it is truly valuable to the education process. These are biennial hours (required over a two-year period) and documentation must be maintained.

What are my requirements for continuing education if I want to reinstate my license?

You must bring the continuing education requirement up to date for the two-year period prior to your application for reinstatement. This material must be submitted with the application and fees.

Can I carry over any of my continuing education hours?

You can carry over any excess that you previously did not use, up to one-half of the previous biennial requirement.  For example, if you have accrued 40 hours in a 2-year period:

  • A professional engineer may carry over 10 hours of CE credit
  • An architect may carry over 12 hours of CE credit.

If I complete CE hours during my initial renewal period, can I use them as carryover?

New licensees are exempt from CE requirements during their initial renewal period. In order to use any hours as carryover, the new licensee must accrue more than the CE requirement and may then be able to use up to one-half of the biennial requirement. For example, if a new licensee accrued 40 hours during their initial renewal period:

  • A professional engineer may carry over 10 hours of CE credit
  • An architect may carry over 12 hours of CE credit

How do I use carryover?

To use excess hours accrued during the previous biennial renewal period as carryover, you will need to provide a CE log and supporting documentation of all hours completed during the previous renewal period. This documentation will be required if you are selected for a CE audit and want to use carryover hours.

Can I fulfill CE requirements through Internet-based programs?

You can gain credit through Internet-based continuing education programs; however, the board only counts "actual" hours. One actual hour of learning means at least 50 minutes spent in verifiable educational pursuit. The Internet-based program must provide documentation of those hours, and credit from some providers may be restricted (see Rule 9.2.3 FAQ for more information).

Can I self-report hours?

Yes. You can also report "self-designed activities" for up to one-quarter of the total requirement.

How do I know if I have been selected for a CE audit?

Licensees are randomly selected for a CE audit around October, when the renewal system is activated. You will find out if you have been selected for an audit at the end of the renewal process after you make your payment. If you renew online, your receipt will include instructions on how to complete the audit. Your license will not be renewed until you successfully complete the audit.

 


The Licensee Seal

When do I need to seal plans and technical documents?

All technical submissions and calculations must have the seal, signature, and date when presented to a client or any public or governmental agency. All originals, copies, tracings, or other reproducible drawings and the first and last pages of specifications, reports, and studies must have the seal, signature, and date. By sealing the plans and technical documents, the licensee certifies that the word was done by themselves or under their control.

Documents clearly marked as “Draft” prepared for preliminary submission and review do not require a seal and signature, unless otherwise required by the client or governmental agency.

Does Nebraska allow electronic seals and signatures?

Yes, electronic seals and signatures are allowed in Nebraska. The seal, signature, and date must be legible. Refer to Neb. Rev. Stat. § 81-3437 and Chapter 6 of the Board's Rules for correct usage.

How do I seal documents with my Temporary Permit?

A temporary permit holder will seal documents with the seal of the state of verified licensure and use the temporary permit information provided on their temporary permit letter. This information includes the temporary permit holder’s name, temporary permit number, expiration date, state of licensure and license number, and project name.

Can you please provide me with the specifications and design requirements for the Nebraska Professional Engineer's seal? I understand it must provide the words "Professional [Discipline] Engineer" and the name and license number; however, I would apprecia

Architects or professional engineers licensed in Nebraska receive a seal letter when initially licensed that shows the approved design of the seal, along with the statutory requirements pertaining to the correct use of the seal. Any seal secured by the licensee, whether embossed, an ink stamp, or electronically rendered, needs to look exactly like the example contained in that seal letter. The Board does not require a certain size or diameter for the seal.

Can the "new" engineer seal drawings and revisions completed by the engineer who left the company?

Our office is responsible for a non-exempt project that requires design materials be submitted by a Professional Engineer licensed in the state of Nebraska. After reviewing an applicant submittal, it was found that the engineer who did the initial drawings for the project has since left the company. Another individual is in the process of obtaining reciprocity from Nebraska. Can the "new" engineer seal drawings and revisions completed by the engineer who left the company? In general, how should one handle changes or revisions to plans when an engineer leaves a company or retires?

The new engineer must review, revise as appropriate, and seal. If the original engineer did not provide written consent for the adaptation or such permission cannot be reasonably obtained, the new engineer must provide a written explanation of the circumstances preventing permission from being obtained.

Refer to Board Rule Section 6.2.

 


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 may be considered exempt based on the International Building Code occupancy classification and building area. The exemption limits are listed in a matrix in Rule 10.3 and the Before You Build brochure. (links to both)

Note: Even if the project is considered exempt, the local building official may require plans and specifications to be designed and prepared by a Nebraska-licensed architect or professional engineer if the official finds a hazard to life, health, safety, or welfare due to the unusual circumstances of the building or structure or an unusually large number of potential occupants.

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 matrix limits provided in Rule 10.3;
  2. The construction does not adversely impact a 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. Dwelling units housing more than two families 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?

It depends. The renovation or one-level addition is exempt only if it meets all three items in the 3-rule test (see above). 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.

What if my project has storage space and office space?

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

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 square footage and described in a matrix in E&A Act, Rule Section 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 statutory exemption level of Assembly is now defined as "Less than 1,000 square feet." The previous 20-person occupancy rule has been removed for clarification.

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 s.f. 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.

 


If you have further questions or need clarification concerning the topics discussed here, please consult contact us.