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State of Nebraska Board of Engineers and Architects

Exemptions

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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 determined by the state building 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 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:

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.

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.

What is the Nebraska state building code?

Neb. Rev. Stat. § 71-6403 created the state building code and references.

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 Nebraska E&A Regulation 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.

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." 

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.

 

If you have any questions or FAQs suggestions to add, please contact us.