Updated: May 8, 2022
How does someone become a residential building plans examiner?
ICC certifications are essential for building inspectors, plans examiners, and building officials. Certifications demonstrate that the inspector or plans examiner is properly trained in their field of expertise and can effectively apply the code to construction projects. Becoming a certified residential building plans examiner requires passing an International Code Council (ICC) certification exam. The entire process requires three basic steps:
1. Learn what the ICC requires for residential building plans examiners
The ICC 2018 residential building plans examiner exam requires the applicant to be knowledgeable in the International Residential Code (IRC). The IRC is the most commonly adopted model code for residential buildings of all types. From the IRC a residential plans examiner is responsible, according to the ICC, for reviewing plans and construction documents for one-and-two family dwellings and their accessory structures for compliance with the local codes and standards as adopted by their jurisdiction. From these code standards, an examinee must be able to answer questions from the following categories:
Determine if a permit is required and if the submittal is complete and meets the scope of the One and Two Family Dwelling Code.
Communicate with the applicant any need for further information, alerting them of deficiencies in their submittal or of their approval to start work; mark the official approved sets of drawings after approval.
Site Plan 8%
Verify from the site plan that the building or structure location is in compliance with the requirements of the local ordinances, fire separation regulations, fire access, flood-hazard areas, setbacks, encroaching on any legal easement, wetland, right of way, or neighboring property.
Final Grade 2%
Verify that final grade will provide the required slope away from the footing or foundation wall and will not adversely affect neighboring property.
Architectural and Life Safety 25%
Room Sizes 3%
Verify adequate room sizes, ceiling heights, heat, light, and ventilation are provided.
Means of Egress 8%
Verify adequate means of egress, with proper widths, stairs, guards, rails, and openings.
Fire Protection 5%
Verify fire protection through rated walls, draft stopping, smoke detectors, and sprinklers.
Verify safety requirements for glazing and foam plastic elements.
Verify that exterior veneers and siding have correct anchorage, support, and backing. Verify that a weather-resistant barrier is correctly specified for all walls and around all wall openings. Verify that exterior sheathing materials are correctly sized and specified. Verify that plaster, stucco, and metal lath have correct thickness and fasteners.
Verify unique requirement compliance for specialty, detached, and accessory structures such as pools, spas, fireplaces, and storage buildings.
Design Loads 2%
Verify designer used the correct design loads.
Verify that footings are designed to correct depth, size and setbacks and that footings will extend below the frost line. Verify footing drains for basements and crawl spaces for compliance with the code. Identify soil type and verify that bearing capacity is adequate.
Foundation Walls 5%
Verify that foundation walls are correctly sized and have sufficient height above grade. Verify that foundation wall materials, reinforcement, anchor bolts, and fasteners are correct type, size, and grade and are located in accordance with building code requirements. Verify that foundation damp proofing and waterproofing are to be provided.
Structural Elements 7%
Verify that structural elements are correctly designed to support loads and maintain load path continuity. Structural elements can include beams, girders, trusses, headers, joists, rafters, columns, piers, walls, and bracing, as well as others not listed.
Lateral Bracing 5%
Verify lateral bracing is adequate to meet required load conditions such as wind and seismic loads.
Construction Design 1%
Verify construction design for wall systems built below the lowest finished floor in flood zones.
Pre-manufactured Construction 2%
Verify pre-manufactured construction elements are to be utilized in accordance with their listing.
Energy Efficiency 5%
Verify energy saving provisions for the building envelope, mechanical equipment, and appliances comply with the code and are indicated on the plans.
Mechanical Equipment and Appliances 2%
Verify adequate protection, support, space, and clearance are provided for mechanical equipment and appliances.
Room Volume 2%
Verify adequate room volume for combustion air or alternate provisions.
Venting and Venting Termination 2%
Verify proper application of venting and venting termination.
Fuel Gas Pipe Sizes 2%
Verify proper fuel gas pipe size to provide adequate gas to appliances and equipment.
Fuel-Burning Equipment 2%
Verify that special systems utilizing fuel burning equipment, such as interior open-flame grills, pool and sauna heaters, hydronic heating systems, and decorative appliances comply with code requirements, the manufacturer's instructions, and listing of the equipment and have proper access and clearances.
Verify minimum required fixtures are provided in proper location with correct clearances.
Clearances and Support 1%
Verify adequate clearances and support are provided for piping and piping termination.
Potable Water System 3%
Verify potable water system is provided and protected.
Sanitary Disposal 3%
Verify sanitary disposal system is provided and protected.
Load Calculation 2%
Verify adequate service is being provided for the building as per the load calculation.
Circuits and Disconnects 1%
Verify required circuits and disconnects are provided.
Grounding and Grounding Electrode Systems 2%
Verify the method and location of the grounding and grounding electrode systems.
Outlets, Switches, Luminaires, and Receptacles 2%
Verify that outlets, switches, luminaires and receptacles, including GFCI and AFCI protection, are installed in required locations.
Electrical Panel 1%
Verify electrical panel location and working space clearances.
Verify bonding of metallic housings and elements.
Conductor and Conduit Size and Support 1%
Verify proper conductor and conduit sizing and support.
2. How to study for the residential building plans examiner (R3) exam
Knowing how to tackle answering questions from all of the required sections is a daunting task. Practicing answering building code questions is essential for a plans examiner or someone about to take an exam. In the office, a plans examiner should be able to answer general questions about occupancy, means of egress, fire protection requirements, and structural elements and their associated rating requirements. During an exam, test takers must be able to navigate the International Residential Code fast enough to answer all of the questions within the allowed time of 120 minutes. Building Code Masters has several practice exams for plans examiners to test their skills and learn the most essential questions and scenarios they will be presented with. Practice exams for building plans examiners can be found through the provided links below:
3. How to take the ICC residential building plans examiner exam
When taking a building code examination, it is essential to be able to navigate the code fast enough to find all of the answers in the text. Most ICC examinations are open book and because of this, obscure and hard to memorize material will be included in all of the examinations i.e. large tables and mathematical formulas. The 2018 residential building plans examiner exam requires applicants to be able to answer the following questions in the allocated time:
Number of questions: 60
Time limit: 2 hours
This means that examinees will have roughly four minutes per question. It may appear as a generous amount of time but some questions will be longer and more in depth than others which requires a plans examiner to be able to have section locations of the books memorized. Having chapter locations memorized and pacing oneself will lead to passing the exam. Practice exams from Building Code Masters prepare test takers for the time crunch and memorization of the most important sections of the code. Whether the exam is focused on building, mechanical, electrical, or plumbing, Building Code Masters has all of the study materials available to help test takers learn how to become better educated building inspectors, plans examiners, and building officials.
For a complete list of practice exams and study materials, CLICK HERE.