The New Jersey Uniform Construction Code (“UCC”) governs construction in New Jersey. The Department of Community Affairs has created regulations in the NJ Administrative Code (“NJAC”) that implement the requirements of the UCC. The UCC incorporates through adoption or amendment specific model sub-codes in order to regulate the major divisions of construction. NJAC 5:23-3.6(a) provides as follows:
“This chapter, together with the sub-codes, national standards and appendices it adopts by reference shall be the primary guide to accepted engineering practice in respect to any material, equipment, system, or method of construction therein specified.”
The UCC adopts many sub-codes such as a building sub-code, a plumbing sub-code, an electrical sub-code, etc. Violations of the sub-codes and referenced standards, materials, and documents within the various provisions of the UCC are known as “code violations”.
There are various types of building materials such as brick that are specifically delineated in the UCC and its sub-codes so that anyone wanting to know how to apply them can simply look at the UCC and the applicable sub-codes and find the requisite manner of installation. There are many other materials that are not specifically delineated in the UCC. That leads to the question of how does one apply or use those materials in a manner consistent with the building code?
The UCC and the implementing regulations have what is known as the “alternate materials” provision. NJSA 5:23-3.6(b) says:
“When this chapter and the sub-codes , national standards and appendices it adopts by reference are silent, a manufacturer’s recommendations for installation of any material or assembly may be considered to be accepted engineering practice; provided, however, that a manufacturer’s recommendations shall not be read to overrule this chapter or any sub-code, national standard or appendix which it adopts by reference. “
This language means that when the UCC and the foregoing sub-codes and national standards are silent, the manufacturer’s installation specifications govern. Unfortunately, we have learned from depositions and document discovery in hundreds of cases that, all too many applicators of EIFS, “thin brick” products, stucco and other exterior cladding materials are unfamiliar with the manufacturer’s installation specifications. They install materials in whatever manner they think is appropriate based upon their “skill” or “experience” or based upon their (often vague and incomplete) recollection of some training they may have gotten years before. This often leads to disaster.