Fast Fact Guides

The codes and ordinances can occasionally be so ambiguous or convoluted that it is difficult to understand what exactly needs to be done. Sometimes, you just get off on the wrong foot and need a little help getting back on track. Worse yet, maybe you acquired a new property and the previous owner(s) did unpermitted work or altered the use of the structure incorrectly and now you are holding the bag. Usually, these issues can be overcome but it will just be more expensive or time-consuming that it would have been to do it correctly on the front-end. The following guides can help you navigate some of these scenarios. Check back often as we will continue to provide updates - both to existing information and new topics.

What would you like to know more about?

Changes of Occupancy or Use/Activity in Existing Buildings/Spaces

Overview

Changes in the way a building or structure is used, with or without any alterations or construction activity, can result in additional or different applications of City Zoning, Engineering and Building Code requirements.  Even seemingly simple changes such as: increasing the number of occupants, serving alcohol in places where it was not served before, creating ‘event space’ in an existing building, the re-arrangement of fixed chairs and tables, new interior finishes, changing circulation paths for building occupants, food service, the storage of new or different materials or changes of operations taking place in all or parts of a building--may trigger additional zoning, engineering or building requirements.  

Review, Inspection and Approval

Changes of use/activity or occupancy can, but not always, have significant zoning, engineering, utilities structural, fire protection, egress, mechanical or plumbing implications and therefore shall require City review, permitting, inspection and approval by the Plans Review and Inspections Department and the Fire Prevention Bureau before such changes/activities take place.  

Process

Through the City’s CERTIFICATION PERMIT application and process, staff will

  1. Review the intended changes to the property, building or space to ensure the minimum requirements of the all codes and regulations are satisfied. 
  2. After a CERTIFICATION PERMIT is approved and issued, staff will
  3. Inspect the building or structure for compliance with the approved plan and use/occupancy as regulated by the 2018 International Existing Building Code and the 2018 International Fire Code.
  4. Upon satisfactorily passing inspections, a new Certificate of Occupancy and, for assembly uses, a Fire Prevention Bureau “Assembly Occupancy Load Posting” will be issued which shall be posted in a conspicuous place, near the main exit or exit access doorway or as directed by the Fire Prevention Bureau. 

After completion of this process, you are free to use the property, building or space for the new use or activity.

 

Guidelines for Building Code Modification Requests

Introduction

The International family of codes, a.k.a. “I-Codes” allow for deviations from the strictest letter of the code where there are practical challenges that can not be met. Where this is decided to be the case, the Code allows for alternative solutions. The 2018 International Building Code section 104.10-MODIFICATIONS states the following:

“Where there are practical difficulties involved in carrying out the provisions of this code, the building official shall have the authority to grant modifications for individual cases, upon application of the owner or the owner’s authorized agent, provided that the building official shall first find that special individual reason makes the strict letter of this code impractical, the modification is in compliance with the intent and purpose of this code and that such modification does not lessen health, accessibility, life and fire safety or structural requirements. The details of action granting modifications shall be recorded and entered in the files of the department of building safety.”

Process

In the cause of fairness, consistency, transparency and record keeping, such modifications to the building codes must be properly applied for, documented, substantiated, reviewed and either accepted or rejected by the building official. Upon receipt of a (BCMR) Building Code Modification Request, City staff will gather to discuss the merits of the request, whether the request meets the intent and purpose of the Code, and determine whether the health, accessibility, life and fire safety or structural requirements have not been reduced or harmed. The Building Official with either: APPROVE, REJECT or ask that the applicant REVISE the request. Upon receipt of a REJECTED modification request, the applicant, at his/her discretion and expense has the right to challenge the determination through the appeals process to the Construction Appeals Board as granted by IBC Section 113-BOARD OF APPEALS.

Application

Application for a Building Code Modification Request can be found here(PDF, 561KB) . At no cost, the owner or owner’s authorized agent (In the case of a project requiring the services of a State of Tennessee Architect or Engineer, the application must be completed by the licensed architect or engineer and be signed and sealed in accordance with TN State Board of Architectural and Engineer Examiners--Rules of Professional Conduct(PDF, 219KB) ) shall complete the application filling out all fields and descriptions. In addition to completing the application, the applicant shall also submit all supporting documentation, drawings, diagrams, interpretations, examples, calculations, test reports, etc., so as to justify the request. Vague or incomplete applications will be returned.

Submission

Completed BCMR Applications shall be submitted via email to bldginspections@knoxvilletn.gov. City staff will review your request as soon as possible, informing you of the results via email.

 

Third-Party Inspections for IRC Residential Projects

General

In accordance with the 2018 International Residential Code Section R109-INSPECTIONS, the City of Knoxville inspection staff is required to inspect various elements of one and two-family dwellings, including townhouses, during various stages of construction.  Required inspections include, but are not limited to: footings, foundations, floodplain inspections, underground: plumbing, electrical, mechanical and gas piping, fire separation/firewall construction, insulation, rough: plumbing, electrical, mechanical, gas piping, shower pan, rough framing, final inspections for trade work and final building inspections prior to occupancy.

Third-Party Inspections

Third-party inspections, inspections by other than the City of Knoxville staff shall not be permitted in place of the required inspections listed above except in the case of exigent and extenuating circumstances. Prior to construction, the Building Official is authorized to allow third-party inspectors in place of City inspections where it is found that third-party inspections are warranted.  Such permission is required in advance and may be permitted only on a case-by-case basis where the third-party inspection agency is approved and satisfies the City’s requirements for qualifications and reliability. Permission for third-party inspection is reviewed, in advance, by Chief Building Inspector, James Tente via email request. Each instance of a third-party inspection request will be reviewed individually and either be approved or denied by the Building Official.

Third-Party Quality and Reliability

Third-party inspection approval is contingent on the demonstrated quality of the inspector's experience, knowledge, adherence to the approved construction documents and past performance.  Third-party inspection quality shall meet or exceed that of the City staff inspections and shall verify that the construction generally conforms to the City approved construction documents and drawings.  The Building Official reserves the right to deny approval of third-party inspectors/inspection agencies for due cause.

Limitations

Third-party inspections shall not presume to give authority to violate or cancel the provisions of the IRC or other ordinances of the jurisdiction.  The third-party agency shall not be the owner, owner's authorized agent or contractor (or employee) listed on the construction permit. 

Report Contents

**Inspection reports shall provide the following information at a minimum: 

  • Job Address--As it appears on the approved building permit.
  • Permit Number(s)--List all the permit number(s) for the work inspected.
  • Inspector(s)--Name of third-party inspector(s) and Official Seal, Signature and TN License #.
  • Description of Inspection--Describe what was inspected, approved, corrections made.
  • Photo(s)--Digital photograph(s) of what elements were inspected and approved.
  • Confirmation Statement--Statement that the work inspected was, “Found to generally conform to the City Stamped and Approved construction documents.”

** or as otherwise agreed upon in advance.

Third-Party Inspection Review, Approval, or Denial  

Upon completion of a third-party inspection, the inspector/permit holder shall submit a report of findings via email to Chief Building Inspector, James Tente for review and approval.  Results of the inspection will be recorded in the City’s permit records. The building official, upon notification, shall either indicate the portion of the construction that is satisfactory as completed or shall notify the permit holder or an agent of the permit holder wherein the same fails to comply with this code. 

Corrections and Follow-Up Inspection

Where the third-party inspection report reveals defects or code violations, any portions that do not comply shall not be covered or concealed until corrections are made and a follow-up inspection is performed by City of Knoxville Inspectors only. Work shall not be done beyond the point indicated in the third-party inspection report without first obtaining the approval of the Building Official.

Third-Party Inspections for IBC Commercial Projects

General

In accordance with the 2018 International Residential Code Section R109-INSPECTIONS, the City of Knoxville inspection staff is required to inspect various elements of one and two-family dwellings, including townhouses, during various stages of construction.  Required inspections include, but are not limited to: footings, foundations, floodplain inspections, underground: plumbing, electrical, mechanical and gas piping, fire separation/firewall construction, insulation, rough: plumbing, electrical, mechanical, gas piping, shower pan, rough framing, final inspections for trade work and final building inspections prior to occupancy.

Third-Party Inspections

Third-party inspections, inspections by other than the City of Knoxville staff shall not be permitted in place of the required inspections listed above except in the case of exigent and extenuating circumstances. Prior to construction, the Building Official is authorized to allow third-party inspectors in place of City inspections where it is found that third-party inspections are warranted.  Such permission is required in advance and may be permitted only on a case-by-case basis where the third-party inspection agency is approved and satisfies the City’s requirements for qualifications and reliability. Permission for third-party inspection is reviewed, in advance, by Chief Building Inspector, James Tente via email request. Each instance of a third-party inspection request will be reviewed individually and either be approved or denied by the Building Official.

Third-Party Quality and Reliability

Third-party inspection approval is contingent on the demonstrated quality of the inspector's experience, knowledge, adherence to the approved construction documents and past performance.  Third-party inspection quality shall meet or exceed that of the City staff inspections and shall verify that the construction generally conforms to the City approved construction documents and drawings.  The Building Official reserves the right to deny approval of third-party inspectors/inspection agencies for due cause.

Limitations

Third-party inspections shall not presume to give authority to violate or cancel the provisions of the IRC or other ordinances of the jurisdiction.  The third-party agency shall not be the owner, owner's authorized agent or contractor (or employee) listed on the construction permit. 

Report Contents

**Inspection reports shall provide the following information at a minimum: 

  • Job Address--As it appears on the approved building permit.
  • Permit Number(s)--List all the permit number(s) for the work inspected.
  • Inspector(s)--Name of third-party inspector(s) and Official Seal, Signature and TN License #.
  • Description of Inspection--Describe what was inspected, approved, corrections made.
  • Photo(s)--Digital photograph(s) of what elements were inspected and approved.
  • Confirmation Statement--Statement that the work inspected was, “Found to generally conform to the City Stamped and Approved construction documents.”

** or as otherwise agreed upon in advance.

Third-Party Inspection Review, Approval, or Denial 

 Upon completion of a third-party inspection, the inspector/permit holder shall submit a report of findings via email to Chief Building Inspector, James Tente for review and approval.  Results of the inspection will be recorded in the City’s permit records. The building official, upon notification, shall either indicate the portion of the construction that is satisfactory as completed or shall notify the permit holder or an agent of the permit holder wherein the same fails to comply with this code. 

Corrections and Follow-Up Inspection

Where the third-party inspection report reveals defects or code violations, any portions that do not comply shall not be covered or concealed until corrections are made and a follow-up inspection is performed by City of Knoxville Inspectors only. Work shall not be done beyond the point indicated in the third-party inspection report without first obtaining the approval of the Building Official.

Guidelines for Rack Storage Systems and Installation

Do I need a construction permit?

Generally, a construction permit is required. In accordance with Section 105-PERMITS of the 2018 International Building Code, the installation of fixed racks and storage fixtures requires a construction permit and City inspections prior to use (except for non-fixed and movable fixtures, cases and racks that are not over 5 feet 9 inches in height which are exempt from permits and inspections). Regardless of the need for a permit and inspections, rack storage presents special hazards to building occupants and firefighters; therefore all rack storage systems shall comply with the 2018 International Existing Building Code (IEBC), the International Building Code (IBC) and the International Fire Code (IFC). The following is a brief summary of the requirements for permitting for rack storage within the City of Knoxville:

Do I need an Architect or Engineer to design rack storage?

The design of rack storage shall be completed by a registered design professional under the following conditions:

  1. Storage Occupancies--In Tennessee, where the principal use of a building or structure, or any portion thereof, for storage that is not classified as hazardous. A registered design professional is required where the building or structure is:
    1. Over two stories in height or
    2. Five thousand square feet or more in total gross area.

    Examples include, but not limited to: garages, warehouses, storage buildings, and freight depots. Buildings or structures not meeting these thresholds shall be permitted to have rack storage designed by a designer familiar with the requirements for rack storage.

  2. Building Official Discretion--In accordance with Tennessee State Law, A building official has the discretion, however, to require the services of a registered architect or engineer for any project.
  3. Tennessee State Law--Design professional requirements for all types of projects can be found here: Tennessee Board of Architectural and Engineering Examiners Requirements for Building Design

How do I obtain a construction permit?

The owner or owner’s authorized agent who intends to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, or demolish any rack storage systems regulated by the International Existing Building Code, International Building Code and International Fire Code shall first make application to the building official and obtain the required permit.

Step 1: To begin the permit process, please submit an application for commercial alteration. Access the permit catalog here.

Step 2: You will then be emailed a link to upload documents to our online plan review portal, KnoxPlans. Follow the plan upload guidelines provided to you, and please upload the documents referenced as required in this handout.

What do I need to submit for the construction permit application?

To obtain a permit review, in addition to a completed application, the owner or owner’s authorized agent shall provide construction documents, drawings and the following information for City review:

  1. Means of Egress Design--Rack storage systems may change the circulation paths of the occupants and or affect the operation of life safety systems and therefore the following information shall be provided for permit review (IEBC 106.2.3):
    • The construction documents for rack storage constituting one of the following: ALTERATIONS--LEVEL 2, ALTERATIONS--LEVEL 3 or ADDITIONS shall show in sufficient detail the location, construction, size and character of all portions of the means of egress in compliance with the provisions of the IEBC.
    • The construction documents shall designate the number of occupants to be accommodated in every work area of every floor and in all affected rooms and spaces being constructed to store materials in accordance with IEBC Section 106.2.3 and shall be submitted with the permit application.
  2. Hazardous Materials Information Required--Per IBC Section 414.1.3, when hazardous materials are intended to be stored, a report shall be submitted to the building official with the permit application containing the following information:
    • Identifying the maximum expected quantities of hazardous materials to be stored (or lack thereof in the case of the storage of non-hazardous materials), used in a closed system and used in an open system, and subdivided to separately address hazardous material classification categories based on IBC Tables 307.1(1) and 307.1(2).
    • The methods of protection from such hazards, including but not limited to control areas, fire protection systems and Group H occupancies shall be indicated in the report and on the construction documents.
    • The opinion and report shall be prepared by a qualified person, firm or corporation approved by the building official and provided without charge to the enforcing agency.
    • For buildings and structures with an occupancy in Group H, separate floor plans shall be submitted identifying the locations of anticipated contents and processes so as to reflect the nature of each occupied portion of every building and structure.
  3. Hazardous Materials Inventory Statement (HMIS)--In accordance with IFC Section 5001.5.2, Where required by the fire code official, an application for a permit shall include an HMIS, such as Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986 (SARA) Title III, Tier II Report or other approved statement (Please contact the City of Knoxville Fire Marshal for information). The HMIS shall include the following information:
    1. Product name.
    2. Component.
    3. Chemical Abstract Service (CAS) number.
    4. The location where stored or used.
    5. Container size.
    6. Hazard classification.
    7. Amount in storage.
    8. Amount in use-closed systems.
    9. Amount in use-open systems.
  4. High Piled Combustible Storage--Where rack storage constitutes high piled combustible storage, (High Piled Combustible Storage is: Storage of combustible materials in closely packed piles or combustible materials on pallets, in racks or on shelves where the top of storage is greater than 12 feet in height. Where required by the fire code official, high-piled combustible storage also includes certain high-hazard commodities, such as rubber tires, Group A plastics, flammable liquids, idle pallets and similar commodities, where the top of storage is greater than 6 feet in height). Plans and specifications in addition to the information required by the International Building Code, the storage permit submittal shall include all of the following as required by IFC Section 3201.3:
    1. Floor plan of the building showing locations and dimensions of high-piled storage areas.
    2. Usable storage height for each storage area.
    3. Number of tiers within each rack, if applicable.
    4. Commodity clearance between the top of storage and the sprinkler deflector for each storage arrangement.
    5. Aisle dimensions between each storage array.
    6. Maximum pile volume for each storage array.
    7. Location and classification of commodities in accordance with IFC Section 3203.
    8. Location of commodities that are banded or encapsulated.
    9. Location of required fire department access doors.
    10. Type of fire suppression and fire detection systems.
    11. Location of valves controlling the water supply of ceiling and in-rack sprinklers.
    12. Type, location and specifications of smoke removal and curtain board systems.
    13. Dimension and location of transverse and longitudinal flue spaces.
    14. Additional information regarding required design features, commodities, storage arrangement and fire protection features within the high-piled storage area shall be provided at the time of permit when required by the fire code official.
  5. Fire Protection Systems--Please contact the City of Knoxville Fire Marshal’s Office at 865-215-2283 for information regarding required fire protection systems, permit application, review and inspections.

What inspections do I need?

Special Inspections:
  1. Special Inspections for Storage Racks--Periodic special inspection is required for the anchorage of storage racks that are 8 feet or greater in height in structures assigned to Seismic Design Category D, E or F. (Such special inspections are in addition to the City Inspections and are not a replacement but intended to be in parallel.) (IBC 1705.12.7).
  2. Special Inspector Qualifications--Where special inspections are required for storage racks that are 8 feet or greater in height, prior to the start of the construction, the approved agencies shall provide written documentation to the building official demonstrating the competence and relevant experience or training of the SPECIAL INSPECTOR(S) who will perform the SPECIAL INSPECTIONS and tests during construction.
    • Experience or training shall be considered to be relevant where the documented experience or training is related in complexity to the same type of special inspection or testing activities for projects of similar complexity and material qualities. These qualifications are in addition to qualifications specified in other sections of this code.
    • The registered design professional in responsible charge and engineers of record involved in the design of the project are permitted to act as the approved agency and their personnel are permitted to act as SPECIAL INSPECTORS for the work designed by them, provided they qualify as SPECIAL INSPECTORS. (IBC 1704.2.1)
City Inspections:
  1. Before use and upon completion of rack system construction, alteration, addition or repair, and after the required fire inspections and special inspections have been completed and approved, the owner or owner’s authorized agent shall notify the building official when work is ready for inspection and request a final inspection per IBC Section 110.3.11.
Fire Inspections:
  1. Please contact the City of Knoxville Fire Marshal’s Office at 865-215-2283 for information regarding fire inspection requirements.

Residential Permit Requirements

In accordance with the 2018 International Residential Code, one/two-family dwellings and townhouses shall require construction permit(s) unless exempted from such as given in R105.2 below. Exemption from permits shall not presume to give authority to violate or cancel the provisions of the IRC, ZONING or other ordinances of the City of Knoxville.

R105.1 Permit(s) Required

Any owner or owner’s authorized agent who intends to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, demolish or change the occupancy of a building or structure, or to erect, install, enlarge, alter, repair, remove, convert or replace any electrical, gas, mechanical or plumbing system, the installation of which is regulated by this code, or to cause any such work to be performed, shall first make application to the building official and obtain the required permit. Sidewalks and driveways in the Public Right-of-Way require a building permit.

R105.2 Work exempt from permit 

Exemption from building permit requirements of this code shall not be deemed to grant authorization for any work to be done in any manner in violation of the provisions of this code or any other laws or ordinances of this jurisdiction. Most projects still require application and review to confirm an exemption from permit requirements. Exemptions may be provided for the following:

Building:

  1. One-story detached accessory structures, provided that the floor area does not exceed 200 sq.ft.
  2. Fences not over 7 feet high.
  3. Retaining walls that are not over 4 feet in height measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall, unless supporting a surcharge.
  4. Water tanks supported directly upon grade if the capacity does not exceed 5,000 gallons and the ratio of height to diameter or width does not exceed 2 to 1.
  5. Painting, papering, tiling, carpeting, cabinets, countertops and similar finish work.
  6. Prefabricated swimming pools that are less than 24 inches deep.
  7. Swings and other playground equipment.
  8. Window awnings supported by an exterior wall that do not project more than 54 inches from the exterior wall and do not require additional support.
  9. Decks not exceeding 200 square feet in area, that are not more than 30 inches above grade at any point, are not attached to a dwelling and do not serve the exit door required by Section R311.4. 

Electrical:

  1. Listed cord-and-plug connected temporary decorative lighting.
  2. Reinstallation of attachment plug receptacles but not the outlets therefore.
  3. Replacement of branch circuit overcurrent devices of the required capacity in the same location.
  4. Electrical wiring, devices, appliances, apparatus or equipment operating at less than 25 volts and not capable of supplying more than 50 watts of energy.
  5. Minor repair work, including the replacement of lamps or the connection of approved portable electrical equipment to approved permanently installed receptacles.

Gas:

  1. Portable heating, cooking or clothes drying appliances.
  2. Replacement of any minor part that does not alter approval of equipment or make such equipment unsafe.
  3. Portable-fuel-cell appliances that are not connected to a fixed piping system and are not interconnected to a power grid.

Mechanical:

  1. Portable heating appliances.
  2. Portable ventilation appliances.
  3. Portable cooling units.
  4. Steam, hot- or chilled-water piping within any heating or cooling equipment regulated by this code.
  5. Replacement of any minor part that does not alter approval of equipment or make such equipment unsafe.
  6. Portable evaporative coolers.
  7. Self-contained refrigeration systems containing 10 pounds or less of refrigerant or that are actuated by motors of 1 horsepower or less.
  8. Portable-fuel-cell appliances that are not connected to a fixed piping system and are not interconnected to a power grid.

Plumbing:

  1. The stopping of leaks in drains, water, soil, waste or vent pipe; provided, however, that if any concealed trap, drainpipe, water, soil, waste or vent pipe becomes defective and it becomes necessary to remove and replace the same with new materials such work shall be considered as new work and a permit shall be obtained and inspection made as provided in this code.
  2. The clearing of stoppages or the repairing of leaks in pipes, valves or fixtures, and the removal and reinstallation of water closets, provided such repairs do not involve or require the replacement or rearrangement of valves, pipes or fixtures.

R105.3 Application for Permit. 

To obtain a permit, the applicant shall first file an application therefor in writing on a form furnished by the Plans Review and Inspection Department for that purpose. Such application shall:

  1. Identify and describe the work to be covered by the permit for which application is made.
  2. Describe the land on which the proposed work is to be done by legal description, street address or similar description that will readily identify and definitely locate the proposed building or work.
  3. Indicate the use and occupancy for which the proposed work is intended.
  4. Be accompanied by construction documents and site plan for plan review and other information as required in Section R106.1.
  5. State the valuation of the proposed work.

Residential Swimming Pool Barriers

Background--U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)

Each year, thousands of American families suffer swimming pool tragedies—drownings and near-drownings of young children. The majority of deaths and injuries in pools and spas involve young children ages 1 to 3 and occur in residential settings. These tragedies are preventable. This City of Knoxville booklet offers guidelines for pool barriers that can help prevent most submersion incidents involving young children. This handbook is designed for use by owners, purchasers, and builders of residential pools, spas, and hot tubs. Barriers are not the sole method to prevent pool drowning of young children and cannot replace adult supervision. Research evidence has been reviewed showing that climbing is an inevitable and integral part of childhood development; Climbing is involved in the child’s physical, psychological, and social development; Climbing skills are often taught and encouraged by parents, especially with boys, and climbing is a part of physical education at school.

Swimming Pool Barrier Guidelines

Many of the nearly 300 children under 5 who drown each year in backyard pools could be saved if homeowners completely fenced in pools and installed self-closing and self-latching devices on gates. Anyone who has cared for a toddler knows how fast young children can move. Toddlers are inquisitive and impulsive and lack a realistic sense of danger. These behaviors make swimming pools particularly hazardous for households with young children. The CPSC reports that child drownings are the second leading cause of accidental death around the home for children under 5 years of age. In some southern or warm weather states, drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in the home of children under 5.

CPSC staff has reviewed a great deal of data on drownings and child behavior, as well as information on pool and pool barrier construction. The staff concluded that the best way to reduce child drownings in residential pools is for pool owners to construct and maintain barriers that will help to prevent young children from gaining access to pools and spas. The CPSC guidelines provide information for pool and spa owners to use to prevent children from entering the pool area unaccompanied by a supervising adult. They took into consideration the variety of barriers (fences) available and became the foundation for modern pool codes. The City of Knoxville enforces the barrier requirements of Section 305 of the 2018 International Swimming Pool and Spa Code which is based on the CPSC guidelines.

The 2018 ISPSC swimming pool barrier guidelines are presented with illustrated descriptions of pool barriers. The definition of “pool” includes spas and hot tubs. The swimming pool barrier guidelines, therefore, apply to these structures as well as to above-ground pools and may include larger portable pools.

Barriers

Barriers are not child-proof, but they provide layers of protection for a child when there is a lapse in adult supervision. Barriers give parents additional time to find a child before the unexpected can occur. Barriers include one or more of the following: a fence or wall, door and window alarms for the house, and a power safety cover over the pool. Please use the following as a guide.

Barrier Locations

Barriers shall be located to prohibit permanent structures, equipment, or similar objects from being used to climb the barriers. There shall be a clear zone of 36 inches between the exterior of the barrier and any permanent structures or equipment that can be used to climb.

Fence as a Barrier

A fence completely surrounding the pool is better than one with the house serving as the fourth side. Fences shall be a minimum of 4 feet high, although fences 5 feet or higher are preferable. If the home or other structure serves as one or more sides of the barrier, install door and window alarms on all openings leading to the pool area. Pool covers add another layer of protection and there are a wide variety of styles on the market. The barrier shall maintain 48 inches in height for a distance of 36 inches horizontally.

Barrier Clearance From Grade

As measured on the side of the barrier that faces away from the pool or spa:

  • The vertical clearance between a surface below the barrier, such as concrete, and the bottom of the required barrier shall not exceed 4 inches.
  • The vertical clearance between grade and the bottom of the barrier shall not exceed 2 inches for grade surfaces that are not solid, such as grass or gravel.

How To Prevent a Child from Getting OVER a Pool Barrier

A young child can get over a pool barrier if the barrier is too low or if the barrier has handholds or footholds to use when climbing. Eliminate handholds and footholds and minimize the size of openings in a barrier’s construction. Research evidence has been shown that climbing is an inevitable and integral part of childhood development.

For a Solid Barrier

No indentations or protrusions shall be present, other than normal construction tolerances and masonry joints. Above ground pools with decks must meet pool barrier requirements which may present unique challenges to providing a compliant barrier. Please contact us if you have questions!

For Barriers (Fences) Made Up of Horizontal and Vertical Members

Pool barriers comprised of horizontal and vertical members, such as a traditional picket and rail fence shall be designed so that it is not easily climbable depending on the following:

Horizontal Members Less than 45 Inches

  • If the distance between the top side of the horizontal members is less than 45 inches, the horizontal members shall be on the swimming pool side of the fence.
  • The spacing between vertical members and within decorative cutouts shall not exceed 1¾ inches.
  • This size is based on the foot width of a young child and is intended to reduce the potential for a child to gain a foothold and attempt to climb the fence.

Horizontal Members 45 or More Inches

  • If the distance between the tops of the horizontal members is more than 45 inches, the horizontal members can be on the side of the fence facing away from the pool.
  • The spacing between vertical members shall not exceed 4 inches.
  • This size is based on the head breadth and chest depth of a young child and is intended to prevent a child from passing through an opening.
  • If there are any decorative cutouts in the fence, the space within the cutouts shall not exceed 1¾ inches.

Chain Link Fences

Chain link fences can be acceptable as a swimming pool barrier while meeting the same criteria as a picket and rail style fence for reducing climb ability.

Above Ground Pools

Above ground pools shall have barriers. The pool structure itself serves as a barrier or a barrier is mounted on top of the pool structure. Such barriers shall be installed under the manufacturer’s installation instructions. There are two possible ways to prevent young children from climbing up into an above-ground pool:

  1. The steps or ladder can be designed to be secured, locked, or removed to prevent access, or…
  2. The steps or ladder can be surrounded by a barrier such as those described in these guidelines.

Above Ground Pool with Barrier on Top of Pool

If an above-ground pool has a barrier on the top of the pool, the maximum vertical clearance between the top of the pool and the bottom of the barrier shall not exceed 4 inches.

Removable Mesh Fences

Mesh fences are specifically made for swimming pools or other small bodies of water. Mesh barriers shall be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s installation instructions. Although mesh fences are meant to be removable, the safest mesh pool fences are locked into the deck so that they cannot be removed without the extensive use of tools. Like other pool fences, mesh fences shall be a minimum of 48” in height with the bottom of the mesh fence being not more than 1 inch above the pool deck. Hinged gates shall meet the requirements for fence gates. See ISPSC Section 305.2.4 for more information.

Pool Area Access Gates

There are two kinds of gates that might be found on residential property: pedestrian gates and vehicles or other types of gates. Both can play a part in the design of a swimming pool barrier. All gates shall be designed with a locking device. The weak link in the strongest and highest fence is a gate that fails to close and latch completely. For a gate to close completely every time, it must be in proper working order.

  1. Pedestrian Gates--
    These are the gates people walkthrough. Swimming pool barriers shall be equipped with a gate or gates which restrict access to the pool:
    • Gates shall open out from the pool and shall be self-closing and self-latching. If a gate is properly designed and not completely latched, a young child pushing on the gate to enter the pool area will at least close the gate and may engage the latch.
    • When the release mechanism of the self-latching device on the gate is less than 54 inches from the bottom of the gate, the release mechanism for the gate shall be at least 3 inches below the top of the gate on the side facing the pool. Placing the release mechanism at this height prevents a young child from reaching over the top of a gate and releasing the latch.
    • The gate and barrier shall have no opening greater than 1/2 inch within 18 inches of the latch release mechanism. This prevents a young child from reaching through the gate and releasing the latch.
  2. All Other Gates (Vehicle Entrances, Etc.)--
    Other gates shall be equipped with self-latching devices. The self-latching devices shall be installed as described for pedestrian gates.

When the Structure Forms Part(s) of the Pool Barrier

In many homes, doors, and windows open directly from the house onto the pool area or a patio leading to the pool. In such cases, the side of the house leading to the pool is an important part of the pool barrier. Passage through any door or window from the house to the pool shall be controlled by security measures by either alarms or self-closing/latching. Operable windows with a sill height of fewer than 48 inches above the floor shall have alarms. See ISPSC Section 305.4. The importance of controlling a young child’s movement from the house to the pool is demonstrated by the statistics obtained in CPSC’s submersion reports. Residential locations dominate in incidents involving children younger than 5 accounting for 85% of fatalities and 54 percent of injuries (from CPSC’s 2012 Pool and Spa Submersion Report).

Door and Window Alarms--Requirements

All doors and windows that allow access to a swimming pool shall be equipped with an audible alarm that sounds when the door and/or screen are opened. These alarms are wireless, battery-powered, inexpensive and readily available. Alarms shall meet the requirements of UL 2017 General-Purpose Signaling Devices and Systems, with the following features:

  • Sound lasting for 30 seconds or more within 7 seconds after the door is opened.
  • The alarm shall be loud: at least 85 dBA (decibels) when measured 10 feet away from the alarm mechanism.
  • The alarm sound shall be distinct from other sounds in the house, such as the telephone, doorbell and smoke alarm.
  • The alarm shall have an automatic reset feature to temporarily deactivate the alarm for up to 15 seconds to allow adults to pass through house doors without setting off the alarm.
  • The deactivation switch could be a touchpad (keypad) or a manual switch and shall be located at least 54 inches above the threshold and out of the reach of children.

Self-closing doors with self-latching devices could be used in conjunction with door alarms to safeguard doors that give access to a swimming pool. See ISPSC Section 305.4 for more information.

Tennessee State Law (Katie Beth’s Law) [TCA Title 47, 68-14-805(a)]

In accordance with Tennessee State Law, at time of final inspection, the pool shall be furnished with a water alarm meeting the following:

  • Alarm Function- The alarm shall emit a sound of at least fifty (50) decibels when a person or an object weighing fifteen (15) pounds or more enters the water in a swimming pool, but shall not include, swimming protection alarm devices for individual use, such as an alarm attached to a child that sounds when the child exceeds a certain distance or becomes submerged in water.
  • Safety Standard- It is required that the pool alarm complies with the voluntary safety standard: ASTM F2208-02 Standard Specification for Pool Alarms.
  • Installation- Pool alarms shall be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s installation instructions.
  • Quantity- Depending on the alarm and the pool size, some pools may require multiple alarms for proper protection.

Power Safety Covers

Power safety covers can be installed on pools to serve as security barriers in lieu of a fence, especially when the house serves as the fourth wall or side of a barrier. Power safety covers shall conform to the specifications of ASTM F 1346-91(2010) Standard Performance Specification for Safety Covers and Labeling Requirements for All Covers for Swimming Pools, Spas and Hot Tubs, which specifies safety performance requirements for pool covers to protect young children from drowning.

Summary--Barriers for Residential Swimming Pool, Spas, and Hot Tubs

The preceding explanations of ISPSC’s pool barrier requirements were provided to make it easier for pool owners, purchasers, builders, technicians, and others to understand and apply the guidelines to their particular properties or situations. Reading the guidelines in conjunction with the diagrams or figures previously provided may be helpful, and is not a replacement for a thorough understanding of the International Swimming Pool and Space Code.

Plan Review, Building Permit and Inspections

NEW construction and installation of a spa, hot tub, inground or above ground pool will require a plan review, building permit and inspections (except for prefabricated swimming pools that are less than 24 inches deep. IRC R105.2) During the course of construction of an inground pool and prior to using any pool the City shall be notified to make required safety inspections before the pool is used.

Required Documents
  • Site Plan - A scaled or dimensioned plan of the property showing:
  • The new and existing structures/buildings and location of a new pool with dimensions to lot lines and structures.
  • The location of the pool barrier (fence).
  • The location of the associated pool deck, equipment, etc, and the setbacks of these features to the adjacent lot lines.
  • Pool Barrier Details - The design details of how and where the pool barrier will be located, including the location of access gates.
  • Pool Alarm - A specification sheet from the manufacturer of the pool water alarm(s).

Outdoor Swimming Pool Checklist

All outdoor swimming pools, including inground, above ground, or on-ground pools, hot tubs, or spas, shall have a barrier that complies with the following:

  • The top of the barrier shall be at least 48 inches above the surface measured on the side of the barrier which faces away from the swimming pool.
  • The maximum vertical clearance between the surface and the bottom of the barrier shall be 4 inches measured on the side of the barrier which faces away from the swimming pool. In the case of a non-solid surface, grass, or pebbles, the distance shall be reduced to 2 inches, and 1 inch for removable mesh fences.
  • Where the top of the pool structure is above grade or surface, such as an above-ground pool, the barrier may be at ground level, such as the pool structure, or mounted on top of the pool structure. Where the barrier is mounted on top of the pool structure, the maximum vertical clearance between the top of the pool structure and the bottom of the barrier shall be 4 inches.
  • Openings in the barrier shall not allow passage of a 4-inch diameter sphere.
  • Solid barriers, which do not have openings, such as a masonry or stone wall, shall not contain indentations or protrusions except for normal construction tolerances and tooled masonry joints.
  • Where the barrier is composed of horizontal and vertical members and the distance between the bottom and top horizontal members is less than 45 inches, the horizontal members shall be located on the swimming pool side of the fence.
  • Spacing between vertical members shall not exceed 1¾ inches in width. Where there are decorative cutouts, spacing within the cutouts shall not exceed 1¾ inches in width.
  • Maximum mesh size for chain link fences shall not exceed 1¼ inch square unless the fence is provided with slats fastened at 4-inches or the bottom which reduces the openings to no more than 1¾ inches.
  • Where the barrier is composed of diagonal members, such as a lattice fence, the maximum opening formed by the diagonal members shall be no more than 1¾ inches.
  • Access gates to the pool shall be equipped with a locking device.
  • Pedestrian access gates shall open outward, away from the pool, and shall be self-closing and have a self-latching device.
  • Gates other than pedestrian access gates shall have a self-latching device.
  • Where the release mechanism of the self-latching device is located less than 54 inches from the bottom of the gate,

(a) the release mechanism shall be located on the poolside of the gate at least 3 inches below the top of the gate and

(b) the gate and barrier shall have no opening greater than ½ inch within 18 inches of the release mechanism.

  • Where a wall of a dwelling serves as part of the barrier, one of the following shall apply:

(a) All doors with direct access to the pool through that wall shall be equipped with an alarm which produces an audible warning when the door and its screen, if present, are opened. Alarms shall meet the requirements of UL 2017 General-Purpose Signaling Devices and Systems.

(b) The pool shall be equipped with a power safety cover that complies with ASTM F 1346-91(2010)-Standard Performance Specification for Safety Covers and Labeling Requirements for All Covers for Swimming Pools, Spas, and Hot Tubs listed below.

(c) Other means of protection, such as self-closing doors with self-latching devices, are acceptable so long as the degree of protection afforded is not less than the protection afforded by (a) or (b) described above.

  • Where an above-ground pool structure is used as a barrier or where the barrier is mounted on top of the pool structure, and the means of access is a ladder or steps, then

(a) the ladder to the pool or steps shall be capable of being secured, locked or removed to prevent access, or

(b) the ladder or steps shall be surrounded by a barrier. When the ladder or steps are secured, locked, or removed, any opening created shall not allow the passage of a 4-inch diameter sphere.

 

Guidelines for Tiny Home Construction

Purpose

The following is a summary of codes and regulations with respect to the construction of “tiny homes”. Please note: This is not intended to be an all-inclusive list of requirements. For any specific requirements please refer to the City of Knoxville Zoning Ordinances, 2018 International Residential Code - Appendix Q-TINY HOMES and/or the State of Tennessee Modular Building Program. For specific questions regarding your tiny home project please contact our office at (865) 215-2999.

What is a "Tiny House"?

A "tiny house" is defined by Section AQ102 of the 2018 International Residential Code as being a site built dwelling that is 400 square feet or less in floor area excluding lofts. Tiny houses regulated by the International Residential Code are NOT fabricated in a different location and relocated to a lot within the City of Knoxville. Structures built in accordance with the ANSI A119.5: Park Model Recreational Vehicle Standard, whether custom built or mass-produced, are not suitable as dwellings within the City of Knoxville's jurisdiction.

What is a Manufactured "Tiny House"?

Any dwelling built off-site is a modular home and is regulated under the Tennessee Modular Buildings Act. This program is under the authority of Tennessee Code Annotated 68-126-301. The Tennessee Modular Buildings Act was established in 1985 with the purpose of establishing building construction standards for factory-built structures. The program includes housing that is produced in factories and transported to building sites to be installed. The Manufacturers of such "tiny" modular homes are/shall be licensed by the State of Tennessee, regulated under the supervision of the state program, and are required to have a permanently affixed Tennessee modular building label. The label is required to be attached by means of four (4) pop rivets or drive screws, on a permanent non-removable building component as evidence of compliance with the program. Manufactured "mobile homes" (permanently constructed on a frame with wheels) are excluded from the program. The regulation of manufactured "mobile homes" is the responsibility of the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Nonconforming single-wide manufactured "mobile homes" are only permitted in APPROVED mobile home parks within the City of Knoxville.

Permit and Inspection Requirements

Any new construction will generally require the submission of construction drawings and a site plan (drawn to scale or dimensioned to all lot lines other structures on the same lot) indicating how the tiny house will be constructed and where it will be located on the building site.  Knoxville’s GIS System is a good resource for property/site information. Upon approval, appropriate building and sub-trade permits may be issued at which time work may begin. Structures shall be inspected by City of Knoxville inspections throughout the construction process. No structure shall be occupied without a Certificate of Occupancy, which is issued after passing final inspection by the City of Knoxville.

 

Guidelines for Construction Noise

Preamble (City of Knoxville, Code of Ordinances-Section 18-1)

The council of the city finds that excessive noise is detrimental to the physical, mental and social well-being of the citizens of the city as well as to their comfort, living conditions, general welfare and safety and hereby declares it necessary to provide for more effective regulation of excessive noise. It is the intent of these regulations to establish standards that will eliminate or reduce unnecessary and excessive noise, which is physically harmful and otherwise detrimental to individuals and the community in the enjoyment of life, property and conduct of business.

Between the hours of 7:00 AM and 12:00 Midnight

  • Residential Construction--No person shall cause, suffer, allow or permit sound from any source which, when measured from the real property boundary of the source of the sound, is in excess of a C-weighted sound pressure level of 65 dB(C), or impulsive sound which has a C-weighted sound pressure level of 80 dB(C).

  • Commercial Construction--No person shall cause, suffer, allow or permit sound from any source which, when measured from the real property boundary of the source of the sound, is in excess of a C-weighted sound pressure level of 80 dB(C), or impulsive sound which has a C-weighted sound pressure level of 80 dB(C).

Between the hours of 12:00 Midnight and 7:00 AM

  • Residential Construction--no person shall cause, suffer, allow or permit sound from any source which, when measured from the real property boundary of the source of the sound, is in excess of a C-weighted sound pressure level of 60 dB(C), or impulsive sound which has a C-weighted sound pressure level of 80 dB(C).

  • Commercial Construction--no person shall cause, suffer, allow or permit sound from any source which, when measured from the real property boundary of the source of the sound, is in excess of a C-weighted sound pressure level of 75 dB(C), or impulsive sound which has a C-weighted sound pressure level of 80 dB(C).

Sound Measurement

Whether continuous or impulsive, sound shall be measured at approximately five (5) feet above grade, using a slow meter response setting and a windscreen when appropriate. 

Exception (Section 18-8)

Special Urgent Necessity--Except in case of urgent necessity in the interest of public health and safety, and then only with a permit from the building inspector, excavation, construction, demolition, repair, paving or alteration of buildings or streets in a residential use; noise regulations shall not apply or be enforced between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m where BOTH of the following apply.: 

  • The building inspector determines that the public health and safety will not be impaired by the erection, demolition, alteration or repair of any building or the excavation of streets and highways between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m., and if; 

  • The building inspector further determines that loss or inconvenience would result to any party in interest, he/she may grant permission for such work to be done between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. upon application being made at the time the permit for the work is issued or during the progress of the work.

Violations

Each violation shall be considered a separate offense, and any violation continuing more than one-half (½) hour or reoccurring within one-half (½) hour shall be considered a separate offense for each half hour of violation.  Violations will result in one or more of the following: a stop work order being issued, monetary fines and may result in permit suspension or revocation

Domestic Cooking in Other Than Group R-Residential Occupancies

Introduction

The latest data available from the National Fire Protection Association indicates that 29% of fires in office buildings, 31% of fires in school properties, 30% of fires in religious buildings and similar occupancies, 13% of fires in stores or other mercantile uses, 50% of hotel and motel  and 83% of residential board and care facilities fires are caused by cooking equipment/activities.  To combat this problem, the 2018 International Building Code, in conjunction with the International Fire Code and International Mechanical Code contains provisions for the safe use of both commercial cooking equipment and domestic cooking equipment and activities in the aforementioned occupancies.

International Mechanical Code

In applying the regulations properly, it must first be understood what commercial cooking appliances and commercial foodservice establishments are defined as:

COMMERCIAL COOKING APPLIANCES. Appliances used in a commercial foodservice establishment for heating or cooking food. For the purpose of this definition, a commercial foodservice establishment is where food is prepared for sale or is prepared on a scale that is by volume and frequency not representative of domestic household cooking.

Commercial cooking appliances are typically found in: restaurants, cafeterias, institutional kitchens, charity kitchens, dormitory and barrack kitchens, cooking schools, church or fellowship hall kitchens, school kitchens, mercantile kitchens, banquet and catering facilities, bakeries, wholesale production kitchens, take-out pizza businesses, and even television studios.  Such uses of commercial appliances are typically used with intensity, even if infrequently, that has a higher heat content, a longer duration of cooking, and more grease-laden vapors.  Infrequent uses include cooking in a church fellowship hall for spaghetti dinners, fish fries and pancake breakfasts, daycare businesses providing cooked breakfasts or lunches for a large number of people as well as preparing food for sale, which can be classified as commercial cooking.  Domestic cooking, though not defined in the model code, is any cooking that is not taking place in a commercial foodservice establishment using commercial cooking appliances that resembles what and how you would cook at your own home.

Assembly Occupancies

The City of Knoxville classifies any cooking in an assembly occupancy as commercial cooking unless a warning placard, as directed by the City of Knoxville Fire Marshal, is provided. The following activities based on occupancy and intensity are also classified as commercial cooking:

  • I-4, Institutional occupancies (child or adult daycare) with more than 12 occupants receiving cooked food.
  • E-Educational occupancies with more than 12 occupants receiving cooked food.
  • B-Business occupancies with commercial cooking equipment (unless a warning placard as directed by the City of Knoxville Fire Marshal, is provided).

Commercial Hood, Exhaust and Fire Protection

Commercial cooking requires an appropriate type of exhaust hood in accordance with IMC Section 506-COMMERCIAL KITCHEN HOOD VENTILATION SYSTEM DUCTS AND EXHAUST EQUIPMENT requiring either a Type I or II hood per Section 507-COMMERCIAL KITCHEN HOODS.  In addition, makeup air and fire suppression systems as detailed in Section 508 and 509 are necessary.

Domestic Cooking Appliances 

On occasion, cooking activities in commercial buildings take on a more domestic or residential type of use.  Cooking far less frequently, of shorter durations and at lower heat output results in a much lower production of grease-laden vapors and therefore a reduced risk of fire. Such activities in buildings other than Group R-Residential buildings are regulated by Section 505.6-DOMESTIC COOKING EXHAUST EQUIPMENT, where domestic cooktops, ranges, and open-top broilers are used for domestic purposes--domestic cooking exhaust systems shall be provided.  Examples of domestic cooking in a commercial building can be office break room range or oven, small daycare businesses, small tv studios featuring homestyle cooking instruction. The City of Knoxville classifies the following as domestic cooking:

  • I-4, Institutional occupancies (Child or Adult Daycare) with 12 or fewer occupants receiving cooked food.
  • E-Educational occupancies with 12 or fewer occupants receiving cooked food.
  • B-Business occupancies with listed domestic equipment (listed above) and warning placard as directed by the City of Knoxville Fire Marshal.

Fire Marshal’s Office

Please contact the City of Knoxville Fire Marshal’s Office at 865-215-2283 for information regarding commercial/domestic cooking requirements and placards.

We look forward to assisting you in the timely completion of your project. If you have any questions please contact us at 865-215-2999 or by email: buildinginspections@knoxvilletn.gov.

 

 

Guidelines for Special Inspections

Special Inspection Requirements

Special inspection requirements are detailed in the 2018 International Building Code, Chapter 17-SPECIAL INSPECTIONS AND TESTS.  Special inspections are required inspections of a highly technical nature requiring special knowledge and experience of which are typically outside the normal expertise of municipal inspectors.  These inspections are both periodic and continuous depending on the type of work, as outlined by the registered design professional in the Statement of Special Inspections required by IBC Section 1704.3 included within the City approved construction drawings/documents. Special inspections shall be at the expense of the permit holder.

Progress Reports

The special inspector shall complete written inspection reports for each inspection visit and provide the reports on a timely basis as determined by the building official, i.e. spray applied fireproofing requiring special inspection shall have such inspection completed and approved by the special inspector, the registered design professional in responsible charge and the building official before the fireproofing is concealed by building finishes, etc. The special inspector or inspection agency shall furnish these reports directly to the building official and to the design professional in responsible charge (IBC Section 1704.2.4). These reports should be organized in a daily format and may be submitted monthly at the option of the building official. Special inspection reports shall be subject to review and approval/disapproval by the building official for due cause.  As the review of special inspection reports requires time to complete, in order to avoid delays in obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy, a FINAL REPORT shall be submitted to the registered design professional in responsible charge for review and approval and then to the City of Knoxville in a timely fashion. 

Final Report

Special inspectors or inspection agencies shall submit a final signed report to the building department stating that all items requiring special inspection and testing by the Statement of Special Inspection were fulfilled and reported and, to the best of their knowledge, in conformance with the approved plans and specifications. Items not in conformance, unresolved items or any discrepancies in inspection coverage (i.e., missed inspections, periodic inspection when continuous was required, etc.) should be specifically itemized in this report. If the special inspector is a registered design professional, said professional shall seal, sign and date the final report. Before a Certificate of Occupancy is granted, the registered design professional in responsible charge shall sign the report, or a copy of the report as evidence of compliance with IBC 1704.2.4 before it is submitted to the building official for review and approval.

Report Contents

In progress reports and the final report, special inspectors should provide the following information as a minimum: 

  • Job Address--As it appears on the approved building permit.
  • Permit Number--List all the permit number(s) for the work performed. There is sometimes more than one permit issued for large projects (i.e. foundation and superstructure under separate permits).
  • Name of Special Inspector.
  • Location of Inspection--For field inspections, pinpoint the exact location of inspection using grid lines, floor numbers, or other applicable identification.
  • Identification of Materials and Methods of Construction--Adequately identify materials and note the methods of construction, erection, placement or other use of the materials. Describe specific items that were inspected. (moment frames, footings, retaining walls, etc,)
  • Testing Data--Identify and document results of all material testing, treatment certificates, nondestructive testing, load test, sampling, welding qualifications, or other tests being utilized (where applicable).
  • Conformance Statement--State whether the work requiring special inspections was either in conformance or not in conformance with these guidelines and the building official approved plans and specifications.
  • Identify and document any structural design changes approved by the Architect or Registered Design Professional.
  • Identify and document any work completed without required in-process special inspection.
  • Substitutions and Deviations--All substitutions of materials or other deviations from approved permit plans and applicable standards and codes shall be immediately reported to the contractor for correction, then, if uncorrected, to the Architect, Engineer, owner, and Building Official. All non-conforming items shall be fully identified on the reports.

Report Submission and Review

Third-party inspections shall not presume to give authority to violate or cancel the provisions of the building code or other ordinances of the jurisdiction.  The City reserves the right to accept or reject third-party special inspections and reports for due cause. Special Inspection reports shall be submitted for review via email to the City of Knoxville, Chief Building Inspector James M. Tente at: jtente@knoxvilletn.gov.

State of Tennessee Requirements for Building & Landscape Design

General

In general, State Law (Tenn. Code Ann. § 62-2-101) requires that ALL structures shall have plans prepared by design professionals registered by the State of Tennessee.  See below for exceptions to this rule.  For more information or to verify a license see:  Tennessee Architects & Engineers 

One and Two-Family Dwellings/Townhouses Exemption

One-family, two-family dwellings, townhouses and accessory outbuildings pertaining thereto; and farm buildings not designed or intended for human occupancy are projects where a registered architect or engineer is NOT required where designed in accordance with the 2018 International Residential Code.

Assembly, Educational or Institutional Occupancies

In NO case can anyone other than an architect or engineer registered in Tennessee provide design documentation with regard to A-Assembly, I-Institutional, and E-Educational occupancies:

  • Assembly Occupancies (A) - buildings or structures, or any portion thereof, for the gathering of persons for purposes such as civic, social, or religious functions or for recreation, food or drink consumption, or awaiting transportation, having a calculated occupant load of 50 or more persons (Calculated in accordance with 2018 IBC Section 1004-OCCUPANT LOAD). A registered design professional is required to prepare plans and specifications for this type of occupancy regardless of the size of the facility. Examples include but are not limited to: amusement park buildings, auditoriums, churches, synagogues, mosques, dance halls, coffee shops, event centers, exercise gyms, martial arts studios, motion picture theaters, museums; passenger depots, public assembly halls, public pools and restaurants.

  • Educational Occupancies (E) - use of a building or structure, or any portion thereof, for the gathering together of persons for the purpose of instruction. A registered design professional is required to prepare plans and specifications for this type of occupancy regardless of the size of the facility. Examples include: public and private schools; colleges; universities, academies and daycare facilities.

  • Institutional Occupancy (I) - A registered design professional is required to prepare plans and specifications for this type of occupancy regardless of the size of the facility: 

1. Unrestrained occupancy - use of a building or structure, or any portion thereof, for the purpose of providing medical care and sleeping facilities for four or more persons who are mostly incapable of self-preservation because of physical or mental disability; examples include: hospitals, nursing homes, mental institutions (restrained and unrestrained) and nursery facilities providing full time 24- hour care for persons under six years of age. 

2. Restrained occupancy - use of a building or structure, or any portion thereof, for the purpose of providing sleeping facilities for four or more persons who are confined or housed under some degree of restraint or security; examples include: jails, detention centers, correctional institutions, reformatories, pre-release centers and other residential-restrained care facilities.

Other than One and Two-Family Dwellings/Townhouses

Structures classified as "business," "factory-industrial," "hazardous," "mercantile," "residential" and "storage" occupancies, as such occupancies are defined in the 1985 edition of the Standard Building Code, which are: 

1. Three or more (3) stories in height; OR  

2. Greater than five thousand square feet (5,000 sq. ft.) in total gross floor area. 

MUST have plans/specifications prepared by design professionals registered by the State of Tennessee.

Design Professional Exemptions 

 The State of Tennessee has exemptions to the general rule requiring a Registered Design Professional; The following are situations where a registered architect, engineer, or landscape architect is NOT required unless the City of Knoxville deems it necessary (IRC R106.1/IBC 107.3.4/IEBC 106.6): 

  1. Tenant finishes and tenant improvements (alterations) to a building of B, F, H, R, M, or S occupancy may be designed by a non-registrant when meeting BOTH of the following conditions: 

    1. Each separate tenant space is less than 5,000 square feet and the tenant spaces are separated from other tenant spaces by the minimum fire-rated separation required by the applicable code. 

    2. Remodeling, maintenance, or renovation of any building or structure, which does not alter the structural system, fire protection systems, or means of egress requirements. 

  2. The following exemptions apply to buildings, structures and spaces of B, F, H, R, M, or S occupancy that are 5,000 square feet or greater in total gross area or greater than two stories in height: 

    1. Existing Interior Space. Normal maintenance or remodeling of existing interior space in an existing building where the occupancy or floor plan do not change but upgrades are needed, such as, remove and replacing finishes (wall, floor, ceiling, where these are not a part of a required fire-rated assembly), change light bulbs or filters, and rearrange prefabricated partitions. 

    2. Mechanical Design. 1. The design of a mechanical system for a building or structure of B, F, H, R, M, or S occupancy, and a temporary structure, wherein the HVAC system developed is not more than a total of 12.5-ton capacity and not more than a total of 500,000 BTU of heating per hour output. 2. Normal maintenance or replacement of defective mechanical equipment with like and kind equipment of the same size may be accomplished by contractors licensed in their respective trades. 

    3. Plumbing Design. Minor plumbing upgrades and additions up to the equivalent of three (3) fixture unit values, which do not require any change to the capacity of any waste, vent or supply system. 

    4. Electrical Design. Minor electrical additions, such as receptacles, lighting, or other circuits, not to exceed 20 amperes, may be designed without the benefit of a registrant, if the additional circuits do not require additional distribution panel(s) and/or the need for upgrading, resizing, or enlarging branch circuits and main feeders or the design of electrical installations of less than eight hundred (800) amperes.

    5. Roof Alteration or Repair. Normal maintenance or repair of an existing roof where the weight, drainage, fire protection, and other code-related requirements of the original design are not changed or compromised; A registered architect or engineer is NOT required unless The City of Knoxville deems it necessary (IBC 107.3.4/IEBC 106.6). 

Roof Replacement/Reroofs

A qualified registrant is REQUIRED  for roof replacements or reroofs of all buildings of 5,000 square feet or more or greater than two stories in height. When a roof is replaced, structural loads during and after installation can change, energy requirements may be affected, drainage conditions can change, etc.

Landscaping

Landscape design drawings are required to be prepared and sealed by a State of TN registrant when: 

  1. Associated with new and existing construction of buildings of 5,000 square feet or more or greater than two stories.

  2. For non-building/landscape-related projects where site improvements are 5,000 square feet or more in area, a registrant is required.

When sealed drawings are necessary, a registrant other than a Landscape Architect may prepare and seal landscape design drawings provided they are qualified by education or experience.  The building official should not be called upon to judge competence but, if at any time he or she is confronted with the suspicion of incompetence, a registered Landscape Architect will be required.  In addition, under Tennessee law, a registrant may not take over, review, revise, or place his or her seal on plans and specifications begun by other persons (landscape company/horticulturist/landscape designer). A registrant may seal only work that he or she has prepared or which has been prepared under his or her responsible charge. 

Signs

Signs that exceed either of the following limits MUST have plans/specifications prepared by design professionals registered by the State of Tennessee: 

(i) Any portion of the sign is twenty feet (20') or more above the ground level; or 

(ii) Any portion of the sign is fifteen feet (15') or more above the ground level if the sign has more than one hundred twenty square feet (120 sq. ft.) in total sign face area.

Professional Registration

Professional registration imposes on the registrant an obligation to protect the safety, health, and welfare of the public and to render competent service. A primary part of that obligation is the recognition on the part of the registrant of the limit of the registrant's professional competence and the voluntary limitation of professional assignments to activities for which the registrant is qualified by education or experience. The "Rules of Professional Conduct," which carry the enforcement of law, specify the proper conduct of practice (or title in the case of registered interior designers), service in areas of competence, the need for objectivity and truth in public statements, the avoidance of conflicts of interest and improper acceptance of work, and misconduct in practice.

Tennessee Architecture Reference Manual

The State of Tennessee has produced a handy reference manual: TN Architecture Reference Manual