Regulatory Streamlining

FT-15 Topic Summary
FT 15


Significant reductions in the time and cost of moving buildings through the regulatory review and design processes can be achieved through the adoption and use of the processes researched and piloted by three Fiatech projects: AutoCodes, Guideline for Replicable Buildings, and Digital Signatures. The following summarizes the findings in each of these project areas.


Automated electronic plan review using current model building codes and national standards has been successfully demonstrated to be feasible and a path forward to helping to streamline a portion of the U.S. building regulatory process. Reducing plan review time from days to hours once additional resources are brought into play.

Over a seven-year span in three phases of work, the AutoCodes project documented exposed complexities in uniformity in code interpretation by building officials and demonstrated – in coordination with the state of California’s Office of State Health and Planning and Development (OSHPD) – that a plan review tool could successfully address access and egress provisions for office health care facilities in that state.

The AutoCodes project also demonstrated the feasibility that automated plan reviews can cover approximately 80% of the plan review process for state and local building code departments. Subject matter experts and state and local building officials from a dozen different states participated in this project (E6-2, pages 4-5).

Guideline for Replicable Buildings

Single plan reviews by state governments and local jurisdictions (in states without a uniform mini-max statewide building code) are possible using the Fiatech developed and later adopted by the International Code Council (ICC) “Guideline for Replicable Buildings.” The Guideline describes steps which the owner/designer of truly replicable buildings – commercial or residential structures using the exact same design and construction materials – to have all of those structures undergo a single plan review instead of a separate review for each building (E6-6, page 7).

Digital Signatures

The costs and benefits and initial steps to add digital signatures to AEC processes is laid out in this 2010 Fiatech study – A Practical Deployment Strategy for Digital Signatures in Fully Electronic AEC Processes (E6-1, pages 19-29).

Key Findings and Implementation Tools

1 : AutoCodes

Technology exists to make it possible to develop an automated code checking tool for building officials in the United States.

Phase I of the AutoCodes project set out to identify whether modern technology could be successfully applied to speed and bring about greater consistency in the review and approval of building plans against adopted model codes in the United States. Working with local jurisdictions the project demonstrated that 3D electronic plan review for building access and egress was feasible.

The biggest barrier to technology application to plan review is the lack of consistency in code interpretation by building officials, which must be addressed to advance automated code checking technology. Phase I brought together local building officials from 14 different building departments from across the nation and identified significant diversity in understanding and interpreting the access and egress provisions of the adopted building codes. To address this problem, uniform education and training of code officials to prepare for and use electronic plan review tools and 3D plan review was deemed possible. A prototype course was created and conducted in Phase II (E6-4).

2 : Demonstrating the Feasibility of AutoCodes

There are no other automated plan checking tools under development and a prototype of an Owners BIM Guideline and Protocol using a Minimum Modeling Matrix (M3) for access and egress could be created as a base for such a tool (Phase II). The basis for building an automated 3D code checking tool of BIM models was successfully constructed and demonstrated for access an egress provisions of a state architectural accessibility and egress codes.

Phase III of the AutoCodes Project demonstrated the feasibility of applying a model based code compliance check on the State of California’s Office of State Health Planning and Development (OSHPD) projects for architectural accessibility and egress (Final Report) (E6-2).

3 : Guideline for Replicable Buildings

Replicable buildings are residential and commercial structures which are designed and constructed exactly the same, using the same materials and for the same occupancy use. A single plan review can serve as the approved plan review for all other replicable structures to be built and sited in the same jurisdiction. In states with preemptive mandatory minimum construction codes, that can be anywhere within that state (E6-6).

4 : Digital Signatures

Increasingly AEC firms are employing fully electronic processes. Digital Signatures play an important role in reducing the time and costs associated with reviews and approvals of construction designs for buildings and plants. Firms employing digital signatures have achieved as much as 50% savings in signing time costs (E6-1).


Key Performance Indicators

digital signature, batch signing

Related Resources

A Practical Deployment Strategy for Digital Signatures and Seals in Fully Electronic AEC Processes (E6-1)

Publication Date: 05/2012 Resource Type: Fiatech Publication Source: FT-15

AutoCodes Final Report (E6-2)

Publication Date: 12/2017 Resource Type: Fiatech Publication Source: FT-15

Autocodes Phase II Report (E6-3)

Publication Date: 09/2015 Resource Type: Fiatech Publication Source: FT-15

AutoCodes Project Phase 1 Proof-of-Concept Final Report (E6-4)

Publication Date: 05/2012 Resource Type: Fiatech Publication Source: FT-15

AutoCodes Project: An Overview of Existing BIM Standards and Guidelines (E6-5)

Publication Date: 10/2013 Resource Type: Fiatech Publication Source: FT-15

ICC Guideline For Replicable Buildings (E6-6)

Publication Date: 08/2010 Resource Type: Fiatech Publication Source: FT-15