DPIE's Under Construction Newsletter, March 2020

Under Construction Masthead - Photos of blueprints, licenses, enforcement, construction inspections, hard hat and DPIE logo

March 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information

coronavirus header


Update on COVID-19: Prince George’s County Confirms First Positive Cases

Press Release: Prince George’s County Confirms Its First Coronavirus (COVID-19) Cases

Coronavirus Department Activities

Press Release: Potential Coronavirus (COVID-19) Exposure Risk at a Recent National Harbor Event and County Efforts to Keep the Community Safe

Community Connections Newsletter: An Update from County Executive Alsobrooks on the Novel Coronavirus, COVID-19

 Statement from Health Officer Dr. Ernest Carter on Coronavirus (COVID-19) Exposure Risk at National Harbor 

Update: Statement from Health Officer Dr. Ernest Carter on Coronavirus (COVID-19)

 View Coronavirus Updates


(See additional information at the end of this newsletter.)

Use and Occupancy Permits: Inspections Required

Building of business needing U and O Inspection

Before moving into a new or existing building, changing the use of a building, opening a business or moving into a new home, a County issued Use and Occupancy Permit (U&O) is required (with the exception of structures located within the City of Laurel). The U&O process verifies that a building meets County and State zoning, property maintenance and life safety codes. A straight U&O application prohibits construction. A separate U&O permit is required for construction projects for any interior or exterior construction work on commercial property where there is a change of use, tenant or owner. Once compliance is verified, the U&O is issued.

If a County Business License is required, a business must obtain a U&O prior to issuance. Additional inspections may be required by the Fire/EMS Department or the Health Department if food is going to be handled. Types of businesses that may require additional inspections include day care centers, places of assembly, schools, apartments, health-care facilities, gas stations, etc.

For additional information, visit DPIE.mypgc.us > Inspections > Use & Occupancy.

Preparing for an Inspection

The permit and plans must be on site and accessible to the inspector. All work performed must be in accordance with the approved plans and any substitutions of methods, materials or features require a plan revision.

The normal order of inspections is:

  • FOOTING — Inspection must be completed prior to placing concrete on the subgrades
    • FOUNDATION — Inspection must be completed prior to placing concrete in forms for the foundation walls
    • BACKFILL/DRAIN TILE — Inspection must be conducted after the foundation wall has been waterproofed and the foundation drainage installed, but prior to placing fill material around the exterior walls
    • FRAMING — Inspection must be conducted upon completion of the structure, exterior envelope and rough-in of mechanical, electrical, plumbing and sprinkler systems
  • CLOSE-IN — Inspection must be conducted after the insulation has been installed, but prior to the installation of interior wall coverings
  • FINAL — Inspection must be conducted after all work shown on the County-approved plans has been completed, including exterior grading work, off-site improvements, etc.

DPIE’s Metz Assists in County's Christmas in April Program

Code Enforcement Officer Mike Metz reviews code requirements at his desk.

Code Enforcement Officer Mike Metz makes his living supervising inspections of County construction projects.

He also dons his hard hat and vest as a volunteer with the Christmas in April Prince George’s County program. There, he uses his expertise analyzing the safety and stability of structures to determine if homes meet the criteria for construction under the program.

According to the Christmas in April Prince George’s County website, the non-denominational program started in 1989 when 600 volunteers, including a number of County employees, repaired 30 homes. Last year, on the program's 30th anniversary, 82 properties were repaired by 3,200 volunteers. Roughly 40 percent of the volunteers are County employees.

Metz said he began working with Christmas in April five years ago after learning how much the program assists deserving citizens. Staffers from DPIE's Inspections and Enforcement divisions are among the program's volunteers.

“I believe in what they’re doing,” he said. "The program allows our employees a chance to help improve the living conditions of citizens of the County who desperately need the help.”

Program Executive Director Mary Kucharski said Christmas in April Day takes place on the last Saturday in April. She said Prince George’s County property owners who need assistance may apply by November 1 of the previous year. The program is open to elderly and disabled property owners; income is also considered. The program’s public funding is augmented each year by donations and several fundraisers, including a golf tournament. Last year’s golf tournament raised $100,000. The 2020 tournament is scheduled for Oct. 5 at Andrews Air Force Base.

Kucharski said Metz has been a great friend to the program.

“He appeared at one of our meetings and really took the bull by the horns,” Kucharski said. “He volunteered to do as many inspections as possible and passed others to some of his colleagues. The rest is history. He’s been a real go-getter.”

Kucharski is awaiting a decision as to whether this year's program will go on as scheduled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation.

For more information, visit the Christmas in April Prince George’s County website.

Sinkholes May Pose Dilemma for Property Owners

Large sinkhole under house spreading outward

Sinkholes are openings in the ground that allow debris or water to collect in them. They result from both natural and manmade causes. Each year, the County receives several complaints from property owners about sinkholes. DPIE is often the first agency to investigate such complaints and may refer them to other agencies for inspection and investigation.

Sinkholes that occur in public rights-of-way are often investigated by the Department of Public Works & Transportation (DPW&T). Sinkholes related to water pipe problems may be investigated by the Washington Suburban Sanitation Commission (WSSC). Those that occur on private property are investigated by the Department of the Environment (DoE) and DPIE, depending on the circumstances. Sinkholes atop abandoned well and septic systems should be reported to the Prince George’s County Health Department for tracking.

In some cases, sinkholes will be mitigated by a public agency. The developer and other companies involved in the construction of the property may be required to make fixes in some situations.

But in cases where sinkholes occur on private property, it is often the responsibility of the property owner to make necessary repairs.

Report sinkholes to CountyClick 311.

Combination photos of sinkhole in ground and another on a road

Please feel free to share the fliers below with neighbors and friends.

Infographic to prevent illness, cover cough and sneezes, wash hands, stay home when sick, etc.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information for Seniors

According to the CDC, some people are at higher risk of contracting severe coronavirus illness, including our seniors and those with several chronic medical conditions. Here are a few tips to reduce your risk. For more information visit: health.mypgc.us/coronavirus

Coronavirus fact sheet for Seniors

2020 Census

By law, every 10 years the U.S. Census counts every resident in the United States. Your participation determines representation and how billions in federal funds are distributed. If our community is undercounted, friends and neighbors miss out on an estimated $18,250 per person over a 10-year period. Statewide, that’s a total of $26.6 billion over a 10-year period.