Under Construction Newsletter, Building Safety Month Edition, May 2022

DPIE Under Construction masthead with Permitting, Plan Review, Licensing, Inspections and Enforcement visuals, and DPIE logo

Building Safety Month Edition — May 2022

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Message from the Director

DPIE Director Melinda Bolling

Happy Building Safety Month!


As we commemorate Building Safety Month, my staff and I invite you to celebrate the men and women at DPIE who work in capacities that support construction safety. Much of what we do is directly related to construction, from permitting home improvement projects to inspecting large-scale, multilevel buildings. We take pride in the fact that our work contributes significantly to economic development in the County.

We are launching two new customer-service initiatives this month. DPIE Connect, mini preliminary design review meetings starting May 1, allows entrepreneurs aspiring to start small businesses to interface with agency experts. On May 19, we will kick off our first monthly Third-Thursday Community Information Session. The inaugural meeting is based on our “Verify Before You Buy” Program. Participants will learn to research properties for unpermitted construction and other problems before they purchase. Details are below.

As we celebrate safe structures, take a look at your property and make changes to ensure it is secure and code compliant. Visit our website at dpie.mypgc.us for information.

Wishing you safe homes and healthy environments!

DPIE Director Melinda Bollings signature block

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DPIE Celebrates Our Inspection Staff During Building Safety Month

Inspector Christopher Scott documenting unsafe structure after fire damage

Inspector Christopher Scott documents fire damage at an unsafe structure. DPIE performs inspections of structures damaged in fires and natural disasters to determine if they should be designated uninhabitable. Inspectors also enforce codes for building, electrical, mechanical, energy, fire/life safety, stormwater management, ADA accessibility and other regulations.

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Washington, D.C.  The International Code Council (ICC) has designated “Safety for All: Building Codes in Action” as the theme for this year’s Building Safety Month commemoration the 42nd such event since the trade organization began highlighting safety in construction and professionals in the building industry.

Building Safety Month is held each May. This year’s event is centered around an educational and interactive campaign established to raise awareness about the importance of building codes in ensuring safety in the spaces in which we live, work, and learn. Each year, the Code Council, its members, and industry professionals from all areas of the design and construction industry spotlight building safety through proclamations, informational events, legislative briefings and other activities.

The weekly themes for Building Safety Month 2022 are:
• Week One (May 1–8):  “Planning for a Safe & Sustainable Tomorrow”
• Week Two (May 9–15):  “Exploring Careers in Building Safety”
• Week Three (May 16–22):  “Understanding Disaster Mitigation”
• Week Four (May 23–31):  “Creating a Safe & Abundant Water Supply”

Residential Construction Standards Inspector Mike Young speaks about the importance of construction safety on DPIE's YouTube site. Young came to DPIE after a long career in the building industry. A number of inspectors on staff have extensive experience in private sector construction or with other government agencies before joining the DPIE team.

Mike Young addresses the issue of construction safety

“This year’s Building Safety Month focuses on issues that currently impact our everyday lives:  building safety, energy, water, and disasters. These factors are a constant concern for our homes, schools, businesses, and communities,” said Code Council Chief Executive Officer Dominic Sims, CBO. “It makes the role of modern building codes even more important as we strive to keep them well-built and resilient.”

The Code Council provides materials to promote Building Safety Month including safety tips, promotional material, and educational packets for elementary school students.

See additional information about Building Safety Month on the ICC website.

Source: The International Code Council (ICC)

Building Inspector Mike Metz at the job site for an inspection, stops to answer a call.

Code Enforcement Officer Mike Metz consults with a construction company official during an inspection of a new structure. DPIE provides oversight of construction, development and grading for construction and renovations and enforces building, site and road development codes and regulations.

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Moby addresses unsafe structures

DPIE Demolishes Unsafe Structures

Inspector Omobola “Moby” Sokoya stops during an inspection of a construction site to explain DPIE’s demolition program on the agency's YouTube site. DPIE demolishes structures that are unsafe and create eyesores in communities, then the owners are assessed for the costs. Owners are responsible for ensuring that any structures on their properties are safe and secure, whether they are occupied or vacant. Prince George’s County averages more than 4,000 vacant properties at any given time. DPIE is also authorized to clean noncompliant properties. Dozens of properties in disrepair are cleaned each year.

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DPIE Connect: Mini Preliminary Design Review Meetings Created to Assist Small Business Owners

DPIE Connect - Mini Preliminary Design Meeting, icon of puzzle pieces fitting together

Effective May 1, 2022, DPIE is encouraging small business owners and entrepreneurs to participate in our new DPIE Connect program. DPIE Connect will bring agency experts together with entrepreneurs aspiring to open businesses in one-hour mini preliminary design review meetings (PDRM). Staff from DPIE’s Permitting and Licensing Division, Building Plan Review Division, Inspections Division, and Business Development Section (BDS) will participate. Topics of discussion include application requirements, permits, licenses, inspections, fees, and plan review code-related questions covering building/structural, electrical, mechanical, fire/life safety, health and ADA accessibility. The scope of projects applicable for DPIE Connect include:

1. Projects requesting straight U&O — no construction
2. Projects with change of occupancy — no construction
3. Projects with interior alterations not exceeding 2,000 sq. ft. in area
4. Projects not more than one story in height

Information discussed during the virtual meetings does not constitute a plan review or approval. All plans will be reviewed for compliance when submitted. For additional information, visit the DPIE Connect — Mini PDRM web page.

Note:  More complex construction projects may require a more extensive Preliminary Design Review Meeting (PDRM) with DPIE's Building Plan Review Division staff. For more information, visit the PDRM web page.

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DPIE Virtual Third-Thursday Community Information Sessions Set to Begin May 19

Register now!

Verify Before You Buy flyer, with V-shaped checkmarks by list of items to verify

Beginning Thursday, May 19, 2022, DPIE will begin its virtual monthly Third-Thursday Community Information Sessions. The topic for the inaugural session is “Verify Before You Buy.” Participants will learn to research important aspects of residential and commercial properties, such as whether any additions or improvements were completed without the appropriate permits and inspections from DPIE. It is important for those interested in purchasing a property to have this information before closing the deal. Once a property is purchased, the new owner assumes responsibility for any unpermitted construction and may face fees and penalties. Features of the home that were not permitted and inspected may be faulty and lead to problems later. DPIE regularly receives complaints from people who have inadvertently purchased property with problems related to unpermitted and shoddy construction. It often costs small fortunes to correct problems associated with unpermitted construction.

Each “Third-Thursday Community Information Session” will focus on a different topic and will include a brief presentation, comments by DPIE experts and a Q&A period about the day’s topic. Other scheduled meeting topics include “Steps to Bring Your Property Into Compliance,” “Completing a Permit Application” and “Accessing Information from DPIE.” Sessions will take place from 11 a.m.–12 noon. Watch the DPIE website for details at dpie.mypgc.us.

A Zoom link will be sent to those who register for each event. To register for the "Verify Before You Buy" session and submit questions for the Q&A, email dpiepio@co.pg.md.us by May 16. Call 301-456-6876 for questions.

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Council Doubles Nuisance Abatement Board Fines

Loud party with alcohol, exceeds noise ordinance and can be reported to NAB

The County Council passed legislation on April 26 increasing the amount the Nuisance Abatement Board (NAB) can assess against code violators from $500 to $1,000 for the first offense. Subsequent offenses remain at $1,000.

The measure was proposed by DPIE to put more teeth into enforcement in cases where a property was found to be creating a public nuisance in a neighborhood. NAB cases in recent months have included violations for an illegal nightclub in Laurel, rented house pay parties and prostitution operating out of a motel. The NAB closed a gas station in Capitol Heights last summer after investigators found evidence of illegal tobacco sales, staff cavorting with suspected drug dealers and a woman was killed in a shooting in the parking lot. The NAB shuttered the station pending abatement of the violations.

Cases can be referred to the NAB by DPIE, the police, the fire and health departments and municipalities after two incidents are reported in a year.

The fee increase will take effect 45 days after the legislation is signed by the County Executive.

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DPIE Staff Help "Preserve and Beautify Our Environment" on Growing Green with Pride Day

Dumpster Drop Off during Growing Green with Pride Day, inspector directs cars while another inspector carries trash to truck

At top, Inspector Nathaniel Hall loads an item brought by a resident to the DPIE Dumpster Drop-Off in Beltsville on April 23. Left, Inspector Sophia Orosco-Guzman directs a citizen to the dumpster. Prince George's County residents were invited to bring certain household items to Dumpster Drop-Off events in Beltsville and Clinton during Growing Green with Pride Day.

DPIE staffers were among thousands of local residents who took to County streets, medians and other littered areas on Saturday, April 23, 2022, to clean and beautify their communities for Growing Green with Pride Day, the culminating event of Preserve and Beautify Our Environment Week, which ran from April 18-23.

At the DPW&T Salt Dome in Beltsville, Associate Director Val Cary and a crew of inspectors assisted residents at a free Dumpster Drop-Off. In Clinton, Inspector DeJuan Valentine led a team that worked at the Drop-Off event at the Park & Ride lot. Inspector Maria Hyatt joined residents of the Dupont Village Neighborhood Watch on a walk through their Suitland community. In Upper Marlboro, Inspector Darren Fox joined volunteers from the Greenwood Home Association for a community walk and cookout.

Enforcement inspector checks a property for code violations

An Enforcement Division inspector checks a property in Beltsville for code violations as part of Growing Green with Pride Day activities.

As part of the event, inspectors conducted surveys of properties with code violations and will follow up with owners to bring the properties into compliance. Even as citizens committed to beautifying the County worked, some inspectors met resistance when checking properties with violations. At a Beltsville property littered with vehicles, junk and debris, inspectors were confronted by a homeowner angry that a staffer was looking at the property.

DPIE Inspectors research a Beltsville property suspected of having code violations

At right, DPIE inspectors Sophia Orosco-Guzman, Lisa Coleman-Tate, David McLaurin and Nathaniel Hall research a Beltsville property suspected of having code violations.

“This is the kind of problem the inspectors encounter all the time,” said Cary. “People who know their properties are creating eyesores often protest efforts to bring them into compliance.”

For information about property maintenance, visit DPIE's Single Family & Multifamily Housing Enforcement web page.

Enforcement inspectors working on Growing Green with Pride day

Inspector Darren Fox and members of the Greenwood Home Association pose for a photo while cleaning up the community.

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PYP (Permit Your Project) to Ensure Its Safety

Permit Your Project

If you have plans to finish your basement, add a deck, install a retaining wall or extend your driveway, DPIE wants you to remember to PYP – Permit Your Project – before you begin construction.

DPIE’s PYP program was implemented as part of the agency’s education initiative to improve code compliance and help residents and business partners resolve safety and design issues in construction. PYP was launched during Building Safety Month in May 2019. 

Home improvement work — including electrical, mechanical, plumbing and structural projects — requires permits. Popular do-it-yourself projects, such as kitchen and bathroom remodeling, must be permitted. Cosmetic changes to existing structures, such as renovating fireplace faces and removing walls to create a more open design, also require permits.

The permitting process ensures that projects will be built according to codes designed to guarantee they will be appropriate for the overall structure, durable and safe.

DPIE is making a concerted effort to reach out to residents and business partners about the permitting process and its importance in ensuring the safety of their projects. Going through the permitting process can help property owners avoid major expense, heartbreak and penalties and fines down the line.

For more information, read DPIE's "Homeowner's Guide to Permits."

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Change in Wet Seals and Signatures Policy

In an effort to reduce paper and increase efficiencies, DPIE no longer requires paper copies delivered with wet seals/signatures to DPIE. All approved permit plans are still required at the construction site at all times.

Red stamp of approval to symbolize wet stamp

1. Final Permit Plan Submission Requirements
Effective May 1, 2022, DPIE no longer requires paper copies of final approved permit plans, calculations and design reports delivered to DPIE with wet seals/signatures. The applicant is still required to upload signed and sealed drawings, calculations and design reports at the time of plan submission for every drawing sheet and on the cover page for all calculations and design reports.

2. Permit Plans at Project Site
Pursuant to the Prince George’s County Code adopting the International Building and Residential Code, a (24" x 36") full-size copy of the final set of approved signed/sealed permit plans, in color, must be at the construction site for inspection at all times and available upon request by the Building Code Official. The final approved set of permit plans on the construction site shall always display a red DPIE approval stamp and design professional signatures and seals. Copies of the final approved set of permit plans can be downloaded by the applicant of record from the approved permit set folder in ePlan. Failure to have the approved permit plans on site will result in the cancellation of an inspection and the re-inspection fee will be assessed. Applicants are still required to maintain copies of the approved plans. 

3. Green Stamp Erosion/Sediment Control Plans Approved by the Prince George’s County Soil Conservation District
Prior to issuance of site/road permits, the applicant shall deliver one set of green stamp final erosion/sediment control plans to DPIE. The permittee shall also keep a copy of the original green stamp final erosion/sediment control plan on the construction site at all times, along with all other site/road permit plans. If you have questions regarding green stamp erosion/sediment control plans, contact PGSCD at 301-574-5162 ext. 3 or visit the PGSCD website.

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Change in Photovoltaic (Solar Panel) Fees

Effective May 1, 2022 — With constant innovation in photovoltaic (PV) technology, solar products continue to be readily available to customers at competitive pricing. This has also impacted the cost of construction/installation. Currently, Prince George’s County permit fees for photovoltaic solar panels are based on cost of construction, as calculated based on the formula indicated below:

• Residential PV system — $5.00 per watt
• Commercial PV systems on roof (100 kW-2 MW) — $3.00 per watt
• Commercial Utility-scaled PV systems on ground (5 MW-100 MW) — $2.00 per watt

Considering data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy from 2020, DPIE uses the following formula to calculate the cost of construction, based on which permit fees will be assessed:

• Residential PV system — $3.00 per watt
• Commercial PV systems (100 kW-2 MW) — $2.00 per watt
• Utility-scaled PV systems (5 MW-100 MW) — $1.50 per watt

For questions, contact Nabeel Waseem at NWWaseem@co.pg.md.us.

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Name That Violation Contest!

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DPIE is holding a monthly contest where we share a photo that contains a property violation of Prince George's County Code. The first person to respond with the correct answer will win one of DPIE's large (13"x10"x15") insulated grocery tote bags with a zipper closure, and your name in next month's Under Construction newsletter.*

*DPIE employees and their family members are not eligible to enter in this promotion.

Carefully study QUIZ PHOTO # 5 below and "Name that Violation" by emailing your best guess to DPIEpio@co.pg.md.us.

spacer bar between articles, no image, no textQuiz Question number 5 shows house with violation - Name that violation
Quiz Question number 4

DPIE Congratulates

Terry Hampton and Leigh Dukatt

who tied by correctly identifying the violation
in photo number 4 (shown at right)
in last month's issue of Under Construction.

The answer is shown in the image below.
(DPIE added the ordinance from County Code.)

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New Hires

DPIE welcomes the following new hires and congratulates them on joining the team!  The new staffers have shared some information to help us get to know them and their start dates.

Lorraine Shepard

Lorraine Shephard, Administrative Services Division — Human Resources Analyst; 3/13/2022

Lorraine is excited to be part of the DPIE staff and is enjoying working with everyone!

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Jeffrey Brockington

Jeffrey Brockington, Enforcement Division — Property Standards Inspector; 3/28/2022

Jeffrey worked at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the County Board of License Commissioners as a liquor inspector simultaneously for 19 years. He enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling and counseling young people.

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Charles Cooper

Charles Cooper, Director's Office — Business Development Officer; 3/28/2022

Charles Cooper is a highly motivated building code professional with 16 years of public sector experience. He has a background in architecture and building code regulation and is International Code Council (ICC) certified in all building and trade disciplines.

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Christopher Chiles

Christopher Chiles, Inspections Division — Construction Standards Inspector; 3/28/2022

Christopher is very excited to join the DPIE team!

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Tamia Holland

Tamia Holland, Director's Office — Administrative Aide; 4/11/2022

Tamia graduated from Prince George’s County Public Schools in 2017. She enjoys reading, writing and traveling as hobbies and is excited to start her career in County government.

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Ramona Parran

Ramona Parran, Site/Road Plan Review Division — Administrative Aide; 4/25/2022

Ramona has 22 years of experience in emergency communications and thrives on offering a high level of customer service. She looks forward to her new opportunity at DPIE. She enjoys traveling and spending time with family.

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Ernest Cameron

Ernest Cameron, Director's Office — Associate Director; 4/25/2022

Ernest is enjoying getting reacquainted with DPIE staff he knows and is excited about rejoining the team!

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Anderson Gomes

Anderson Gomes, Inspections Division — Construction Standards Inspector; 4/25/2022

Anderson is an award-winning construction superintendent with over 20 years’ experience in the industry. He received his degree in construction management from Montgomery College and served as president of the Construction Management Society.

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Vincent Todman

Vincent Todman, Inspections Division — Construction Standards Inspector; 4/25/2022

Vincent studied at Park University with a major in Social Psychology while serving in the U.S. Navy. He recently retired from the federal government after 25 years of service.

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DeAndre Thompson, Inspections Division — Construction Standards Inspector; 4/25/2022

DeAndre is very excited to join the DPIE team!

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Paul Washington

Paul Washington, Enforcement Division — Property Standards Inspector; 4/25/2022

Paul graduated from Salisbury University (Political Science) in 1987. He is married and has three sons. He worked for nine years as a Prince George’s County firefighter/EMT. He transferred laterally to the Office of the Sheriff as a deputy sheriff.

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DPIE promoted the following employees in April 2022. We would like to recognize and congratulate these employees for their hard work and commitment!

Scottie Mauney

Scottie Mauney, Construction Standard Code Enforcement Officer; 4/10/2022

Scottie started working for DPIE in 2013.

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Firdevs Ozlem Demiroglu, Engineer 4; 4/10/2022

Firdevs started working for DPIE in 2017.

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Tezera Lemma, Engineer 4; 4/10/2022

Tezera started working for DPIE in 2013.

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Employees of the Month

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Amarech Moshe

DPIE Congratulates Amarech Moshe
Employee of the Month
March 2022

Amarech is an Engineer II in the Site/Road Plan Review Division and is recognized for exhibiting outstanding team player skills and going above and beyond her duties and responsibilities. She is responsible for the review and approval of flood plain cases and the review of building permits. Amarech works closely with applicants, permit runners, and permittees by answering and resolving building permit related issues. She has a positive and friendly attitude. 

Bosa Ugo

DPIE Congratulates Bosa Ugo
Employee of the Month
April 2022

Bosa is an Administrative Specialist for the Permitting and Licensing Division. He has demonstrated dynamic leadership, a superb level of expertise and overall dedication to the department. He is being recognized for his hard work and commitment. Bo is a team player who sets high expectations for himself and his team. His exemplary performance and outstanding efforts have benefited internal and external customers, as well as the entire division.

DPIE celebrates Amarech and Bosa for their excellent performance!

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Safety Threat: Unpermitted Construction

Unpermitted Construction with visual of Buyer Beware sign

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