DRA Guide to Decisions and Interpretations of the Council, Part 1 - General

Part I – General
What is a Design Review Agency (DRA)?
Who is the Council?
Registration Requirements and Criteria for Approval of DRA’s

Choosing a DRA

Requirements for Engineer’s Seals

Requirements for Architect’s Seals


Part I – General

What is a Design Review Agency (DRA)?

Department rule 70.10 defines a design review agency as an approved organization, private or public, determined by the Council to be qualified by reason of facilities, personnel, experience, demonstrated responsibility to review designs, plans, specifications, and building system documentation, and to certify compliance to these IHB statute and rules and mandatory building codes by affixing the Council’s stamp of approval.

Who is the Council?

The Council is the Texas Industrialized Building Code Council.  The Council was created by Chapter 1202 of the Occupations Code, Industrialized Housing and Buildings and has the authority as follows.

1. To establish criteria for approval, and approve accordingly, all third-party inspectors and design review agencies

2. To adopt the latest edition of the mandatory building codes if the Council finds that use of these codes is in the public interest and consistent with the purposes of the statute

3. To adopt amendments to the mandatory building codes – amendments shall be applied uniformly on a statewide basis

4. To determine all questions raised by a municipality in connection to the review of designs, plans, and specifications of industrialized housing and buildings

5. To determine all questions concerning alternative materials or methods of construction

6. To determine all questions concerning code equivalency

7. To establish procedures for inspecting the construction and installation of industrialized housing and buildings

The decisions, actions, and interpretations of the Council are binding on the Department, third-party inspectors, design review agencies, and municipalities and other political subdivisions.

Registration Requirements and Criteria for Approval of DRA’s

Reference Department rules 70.21 and 70.22 for the registration requirements and criteria for approval of DRA’s.  A complete guide to the application requirements and criteria for approval of DRA’s is available on the Department’s web site at http://www.tdlr.texas.gov/ihb/039IHB.htm.

Council Approval

The Council has authorized the Department to grant interim approval to any application that complies with the criteria for approval of design review agencies.  The Department will recommend approval of applications that comply with the criteria for approval to the Council at their next scheduled meeting after granting of interim approval.  A certificate of registration will not be released until the Council has granted approval.

Registration Renewal

A DRA’s registration shall be continuous provided the applicant complies with the following.

1. Changes in status are reported to the Department within 10 days as required by Department rule 70.21(c).  Changes in status include the following:

  • The name of the agency is changed
  • The address of the agency is changed
  • A partnership or corporation is created or exists or there is a change in 25% or more of the ownership of the business entity within a 12-month period
  • There are changes in principle officers or key supervisory personnel of the DRA
  • There are changes in the key technical personnel or changes in the certifications of the technical personnel of the DRA.  Changes in technical personnel or in their qualifications must be submitted to the Department for review for conformance to the criteria for approval of DRA’s [reference Department rule 70.22] and are not effective until approved by the Department. 

2. The annual registration fee is paid.  Reference Department rule 70.80 for registration fees and rule 70.81 for late renewal fees.

3. The applicant continues to comply with the criteria for approval established by the Council as set forth in Department rule 70.22.

4. The applicant presents evidence, at the time of renewal of the DRA’s registration, that the code certifications required by Department rule 70.22 are current with the International Code Council (ICC).  Participation in the ICC Renewal Program or Certification Maintenance Program is required to keep an ICC code certification current.  DRA’s shall present evidence of compliance for each plan reviewer identified in the DRA’s organization chart.

5. The applicant submits an up to date organization chart in accordance with Department rule 70.22 at the time of renewal of the DRA’s registration.

Choosing a DRA

Manufacturers

The manufacturer is responsible for choosing a DRA from the list of Council approved DRA’s and designating his choice to the Department in writing [reference Department rule 70.70(a)(1)].  A manufacturer may elect to use more than one approved DRA for review and approval of his Texas design package.  However, the manufacturer cannot have one DRA do the initial review and approval on a project or model and another DRA review and approve revisions, or additions, to that project or model without written approval from the Department.  In addition, the manufacturer cannot have one DRA begin the review and approval process for a project or model and switch DRA’s before the project or model has been approved without prior written approval from the Department.

Industrialized Builder and Installation Permit Holders

The industrialized builder or installation permit holder shall select a DRA from the list of Council approved DRA’s to review alteration or recertification construction documents [reference Department rule 70.74].  A different DRA may be chosen for different projects.  The industrialized builder or installation permit holder may not change DRA’s for a project once the plan review has begun without prior written approval from the Department.

Requirements for Engineer’s Seals

Information is provided as a guide only – for complete requirements please reference Chapter 1001 of the Occupations Code, Texas Engineering Practice Act and the Rules Concerning the Practice of Engineering (can be found at the Texas Board of Professional Engineers web site at http://www.tbpe.state.tx.us/).

Responsibilities of the DRA

Public officials of this State, or a political subdivision of this State, who is responsible for enforcing laws that affect the practice of engineering may accept a plan, specification, or other related document only if the plan, specification or other document was prepared by an engineer licensed to practice in Texas, as evidenced by the engineer’s seal, unless exempted by Chapter 1001 of the Occupations Code [reference section 1001.402 of the Occupations Code].  DRA’s are acting for the Department and the Council when they approve design packages and construction documents for the IHB program and must assure that any of these documents accepted for review are in compliance with Chapter 1001 of the Occupations Code.

In addition to the requirements of the Texas Engineering Practice Act, the mandatory building codes also contain requirements for certain types of documents to be prepared by, or for certain types of designs to be prepared by, a design professional.  For example, section 2303.4.1 of the IBC requires metal-plate-connected wood truss documents to be prepared by a design professional and section R301.1.3 of the IRC requires that structural elements that exceed the limits of the code be designed in accordance with accepted engineering practice.  It is the responsibility of the DRA to assure that documents are sealed by the responsible design professional where required by the mandatory building code prior to approval of these documents.

Engineer’s Seals

Reference section 137.33, Sealing Procedures, of the Rules Concerning the Practice of Engineering – License holders shall only seal work done by them, performed under their direct supervision, or shall be standards or general guideline specifications that they have reviewed and selected.  License holders shall affix an unobscured seal and original signature with date or electronic signature to the originals of all documents containing the final version of any engineering work before such work is released from their control, including the original title sheet of bound engineering reports, specifications, details, calculations or estimates, and each original sheet of plans or drawings regardless of size or binding.  Work performed by more than one license holder shall be sealed in a manner such that all engineering can be clearly attributed to the responsible license holder.

 Electronic Seals and Sealing Requirements

Reference section 137.35, Electronic Seals and Sealing Requirements, of the Rules Concerning the Practice of Engineering – Engineering work transmitted in an electronic format that contains a computer generated seal shall be accompanied by the following text or similar wording:  “The seal appearing on this document was authorized by (Example:  Leslie H. Doe, P.E. 0112) on (date).” Unless accompanied by an electronic signature.  A license holder may use a computer-generated representation on his or her seal on electronically conveyed work.  However, the final hard copy of such engineering work must contain an original signature of the license holder and date or the documents must be accompanied by an electronic signature.  A scanned image of an original signature shall not be used in lieu of an original signature or electronic signature.

An electronic signature is a digital authentication process attached to or logically associated with an electronic document and shall carry the same weight, authority, and effects as an original signature.  The electronic signature, which can be generated by using either public key infrastructure or signature dynamics technology, must be unique to the person using it, capable of verification, under the sole control of the person using it, and linked to a document in such a manner that the electronic signature is invalidated if any data in the document is changed.

Public Works

Reference section 1001.053, Public Works, of the Occupations Code – The following work is exempt from Texas Engineering Practice Act.

1. Public work that involves electrical or mechanical engineering, if the contemplated expense for the completed project is $8,000 or less

2. Public work that does not involve electrical or mechanical engineering, if the contemplated expense for the completed project is $20,000 or less

Reference section 1001.407, Construction of Certain Public Works, of the Occupations Code – The engineering plans, specifications, and estimates of public work involving engineering in which the public health, welfare, or safety is involved shall be prepared by an engineer licensed to practice in this State.

Buildings Exempted

Reference section 1001.056, Construction or Repair of and Plans for Certain Buildings, of the Occupations Code – A person, sole proprietorship, firm, partnership, joint stock association, or private corporation is exempt from the licensing requirements if the person or entity is drawing plans or specifications for any of the following.

1. A private dwelling

2. Apartments not exceeding eight units for each building in the case of one-story buildings

3. Apartments not exceeding four units for each building and having a maximum height of two stories

4. Garage or other structure pertinent to a building a private dwelling or apartment as described above

5. A private building to be used exclusively for farm, ranch, or agricultural purposes

6. A private building to be used exclusively for storage of raw agricultural commodities

7. A building having no more than one story that is not a building exempt from the requirements of section 1001.053 (Public Works) of the Occupations Code or section 1001.047 (Construction of Certain Public Works).  If the building is exempt under this item, but contains a clear span greater than 24 feet, then only the trusses, beams, or other roof supporting members must be engineered or pre-engineered

8. A building having no more than one story that has a total floor area of not more than 5,000 square feet.  If the building is exempt under this item, but contains a clear span greater than 24 feet, then only the trusses, beams, or other roof supporting members must be engineered or pre-engineered

9. A building having no more than one story that does not contain a clear span between supporting structures greater than 24 feet on the narrow side

Requirements for Architect’s Seals

Information is provided as a guide only – for complete requirements please reference Chapter 1051 of the Occupations Code, Regulation of Architecture and the Rules Regulating the Practice of Architecture (can be found at the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners web site at http://www.tbae.state.tx.us/active/home.html). 

Responsibilities of the DRA

Public officials of this State, or a political subdivision of this State, who is responsible for enforcing laws that affect the practice of architecture may accept an architectural plan, specification, or other related document only if the plan, specification or other document was prepared by an architect, or a person acting under the supervision of an architect, licensed to practice in Texas, as evidenced by the architect’s seal, unless exempted by Chapter 1051 of the Occupations Code [reference section 1051.551 of the Occupations Code].  DRA’s are acting for the Department and the Council when they approve design packages and construction documents for the IHB program and must assure that any of these documents accepted for review are in compliance with Chapter 1051 of the Occupations Code.

In addition to the requirements of the Chapter 1051 of the Occupations Code, the mandatory building codes also contain requirements for certain types of documents to be prepared by a design professional.  It is the responsibility of the DRA to assure that documents are sealed by the responsible design professional where required by the mandatory building code prior to approval of these documents.

Architect’s Seals

Reference Subchapter F, The Architect’s Seal, of the Rules Regulating the Practice of Architecture – License holders shall only affix or authorize the affixation of his/her seal to documents prepared by the Architect or under the Architect’s Supervision and Control.  License holders shall affix the Architect’s seal with the Architect’s signature (across the face of the seal’s image or directly under or adjacent to the seal’s image) and with the date of signing before the document is issued by or under the authority of the Architect.  The seal, signature, and date must be affixed in a manner that will be clearly visible and legible on each document.  Documents may be issued electronically or in any other format selected by the Architect whose seal and signature are affixed to the documents.  An Architect’s seal and signature and date of signing may be affixed electronically or through any other means selected by the Architect so long as the seal, signature, and date will produce a clearly visible and legible image on any copy or reproduction of the document to which they are affixed.  Construction documents requiring a seal, signature, and date include the following.

1. Each sheet of drawings or electronic equivalent of a sheet of drawings

2. Each specification – if a specification is included in a bound grouping of specifications that includes a table of contents or index listing each individual specification, the seal must be placed in at least one copious location in the bound document.  Any individual specification sheet or electronic equivalent that is issued separately must be sealed individually

3. Each sheet or electronic equivalent of a sheet that identifies the project and provides a list of sealed documents, such as a title sheet, table of contents, or index

4. Each architectural drawing or specification that is part of addenda, change order, construction change directive, or other supplemental document

Plans or Specifications to be Prepared Only by Architect

Reference section 1051.703, Certain Plans or Specifications to be Prepared Only by Architect, of the Occupations Code – Architectural plans or specifications for any of the following may be prepared only by an Architect.

1. A new building or modification of an existing building intended for occupancy on a 24-hour basis by persons who are receiving custodial care from the proprietor or operator of the building, regardless of the number of stories or square footage of the building

2. A new building having construction costs exceeding $100,000 that is to be constructed and owned by a state agency, a political subdivision of this state, or any other public entity in this state

3. A new building having construction costs exceeding $100,000 that is to be used for education, assembly, or office occupancy

4. An alteration or addition having construction cost exceeding $50,000 that is to be made to an existing building that is owned by a state agency, a political subdivision of this state or any other public entity in this state and requires the removal, relocation, or addition of a wall or partition or the alteration or addition of an exit

5. An alteration or addition having construction costs exceeding $50,000 that is to be made to an existing building that is or will be used for education, assembly, or office occupancy and requires the removal, relocation, or addition of a wall or partition or the alteration or addition of an exit

Buildings Exempted

Reference section 1051.606, Activities of Certain Persons Not Represented to be Architects, of the Occupations Code – Persons who prepare plans and specifications for the following are not covered by this statute.

1. Privately owned building used primarily for farm, ranch, or agricultural purposes

2. Privately owned building used primarily for storage of raw agricultural commodities

3. Single-family or dual-family dwelling or building or appurtenance associated with the dwelling

4. Multifamily dwelling not exceeding a height of two stories and not exceeding 16 units per building

5. Commercial building that does not exceed a height of two stories or a square footage of 20,000 square feet

6. Warehouse that has limited public access