The term “Industrialized Unit” (IU) applies to closed construction manufactured or assembled off-site for a unit’s or component’s first use. Afterwards, it is regulated as any other existing building, component, equipment or element of a building. Since the early 1970s, the Board of Building Standards has had responsibility to encourage efficient and innovative construction methods by developing regulations and a program for Industrialized Units.
The IU program under the Ohio Board of Building Standards is a pathway for manufacturers to receive authorization that their products are compliant with the applicable building codes in Ohio. The IU program is geared for manufacturers who produce components or systems of a building, in off-site facilities, resulting in closed construction portions of a building being transported to the site of intended use, in Ohio, for placement. The products can be modular (volumetric in nature) or panelized (planar in nature.) An authorization which includes both an approval of construction documents and an insignia issued by the Ohio Board of Building Standards allows the manufacturer’s product to be installed anywhere in Ohio in accordance with the conditions of its Ohio Board of Building Standards approval; the authorization serves as evidence of compliance with Ohio’s building codes for the off-site constructed portion that the local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) to administer the building codes may rely. The key is whether the completed assembly, as it leaves the off-site facility, will prevent the local AHJ from completing all the required inspections and therefore unable to determine if the construction is built in accordance with the approved construction documents.
The use of an IU in the construction of a building in Ohio requires two approvals. One from the Ohio Board of Building Standards referred to as the authorization and one from the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) to administer Ohio’s building codes in the local jurisdiction. Each approval is for a separate and distinct scope of work related to the building as an occupiable whole. The Ohio Board of Building Standards authorization is for the closed construction portion, built in an off-site location, with the intent of being transported and placed on/incorporated into a construction site in Ohio. The local AHJ approval is for all the on-site, open construction that is proposed including any work necessary to complete the installation of an IU into the project. The local AHJ approval will also include the certificate of occupancy/completion for the project which allows the owner to use their building for its proposed purpose. Without the authorization (approval and insignia) from the Ohio Board of Building Standards, the manufacturer’s product is not considered an IU.
The IU authorization is not a requirement but an option for potential IU manufacturers to provide owners with documentation from the Ohio Board of Building Standards that their products are code compliant. Because the construction in question is “closed” and not constructed on-site in the jurisdiction of the authority to administer Ohio’s building codes, the owner is at risk of constructing without approval which can be a violation of the building codes. In areas of Ohio with building code enforcement, the owner may be faced with having to disassemble completed construction such that the building official can ascertain that the construction is compliant with Ohio’s building codes unless the manufacturer can provide an IU authorization for their product. An IU authorization cannot be issued after the fact; it must be applied for before construction begins on the proposed IU.