Innovative Methods and Systems Pilot Program


What is the Innovative Materials and Systems Pilot Program?

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The Innovative Materials and Systems Pilot Program allows rural owner-builders of small innovative dwellings the option of seeking an exemption from some aspects of currently adopted building codes.

Projects participating in this program will not be required to apply for a traditional building permit or undergo plan review or building inspections.

Participating projects must still comply with all other County, State and Federal codes including maintaining applicable setbacks, installing approved wastewater systems and obtaining permits for grading and drainage if applicable.  Home Owner Association approval, if applicable, is also required.

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A short video about the Pilot Program created by Sustainability Aide Lauren Bernas

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Purpose

The purpose of the Pilot Program is to support community members who are interested in utilizing sustainable and innovative building methods, materials and systems that are outside the scope of prescriptive building codes.

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Building codes exist to ensure the safety of the built environment, but are limited to mainstream construction. This can sometimes stifle innovation and sustainable building practices. The International Code Council (ICC) codes do not prohibit the use of any material or method, but when a method or material is not addressed by the ICC, code officials are challenged to evaluate them for safety. These circumstances often require engineering and this can add significant cost to a project. By mitigating the financial and regulatory burdens with building code compliance, this Pilot Program supports rural residential owner-builders who want to build using new technology, innovative approaches, and culturally traditional building practices that fall within the Pilot Program’s requirements.

Cordwood construction has typically required engineering for a building permit and qualifies as an alternative method under the Pilot Program. Other methods include, but are not limited to, papercrete, hempcrete, earthbag and earthen construction as well as use of reclaimed materials.

Qualifications

In order to participate in the Pilot Program, all of the following qualifications must be met:

  • Parcel is zoned AR or G
  • Parcel is 2-½ acres or larger
  • Dwelling is 600 sf or less livable area
  • Dwelling is 1 story
  • An alternative method, material or system that is difficult to permit prescriptively is employed
  • Dwelling is owner-occupied; will not be rented or sold for 1 year
  • Dwelling will be constructed by owner, or by licensed contractors with the owner-builder acting as the General Contractor
  • Signed affidavits attesting to compliance with electrical, mechanical, fire and plumbing code will be submitted at completion of  the project
  • A Notice of Disclosure Statement stating that a Pilot Program building permit is being issued pursuant to the Amendment will be signed and submitted. This Notice will be recorded to the deed of the property and shared with the County Assessor
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Shipping container reuse and earthen materials currently qualify as alternative methods under the Pilot Program

Process

Step 1:   Applicant reviews the Pilot Program Packet, available on Community Development’s website, at our office, or mailed by request.

Step 2:   Applicant submits an application to the Sustainable Building Program (CCSBP)

Step 3:  Applicant participates in scheduled consultation with CCSBP, other divisions and the fire department having jurisdiction. Proposed project is discussed and guidance is given. Staff identifies if project qualifies for the Pilot Program.

Step 4:  Upon acceptance into the Pilot Program, the applicant submits:

  1. A site plan
  2. A floor plan of the structure
  3. The application form signed off on by CCSBP
  4. A signed and notarized Notice of Disclosure Statement

Step 5:  Notice of Disclosure Statement is recorded with the Coconino County Recorder by Community Development and shared with the County Assessor’s Office. The Fire District having jurisdiction will also be notified.

Step 6:  No Certificate of Occupancy or Certificate of Completion will be issued. The Sustainable Building Program will conduct a final site visit to document project information.

Step 7:  After construction, the owner shall submit signed Affidavits of compliance with Plumbing, Mechanical, Electrical and Fire codes to the Sustainable Building Program.  

Step 8:  When all Pilot Program documents have been received and wastewater and other applicable permits are finaled, the dwelling may be occupied.

Pilot Program Duration

The Innovative Materials and Systems Pilot Program will continue through the duration of the current building code as adopted through Ordinance 2019-10. This code will be in place for approximately 6 years. As part of the process of the next code adoption, the Pilot Program will be evaluated and a determination will be made as to whether the program will continue into the next code cycle.

For further information about the Pilot Program or to schedule a consultation, contact Nina Schmidt, Sustainability Specialist, at nschmidt@coconino.az.gov or (928) 679-8882.