Skip to Content

Board of Architectural and Engineering Examiners

Requirements for Building Design

 

Projects Requiring Design Professionals | Exempt Building Projects
Design Build Projects | Public Works Projects | Qualifications-Based Selection

 


 

PROJECTS REQUIRING DESIGN PROFESSIONALS


It is unlawful for anyone other than a registered design professional to prepare plans and specifications for the following building occupancies as defined in the 1985 edition of the Standard Building Code. Assembly, educational and institutional occupancies always require the use of design professionals regardless of the size or scope of a project.
  • Assembly Occupancies (A) - buildings or structures, or any portion thereof, for the gathering of persons for purposes such as civic, social, or religious functions or for recreation, food or drink consumption, or awaiting transportation, having a capacity of 50 or more persons. A registered design professional is required for this type of occupancy regardless of the size of the facility. Examples include: amusement park buildings; auditoriums; churches, synagogues, mosques; dance halls; motion picture theaters; museums; passenger depots; public assembly halls; and restaurants that accommodate 100 or more people, or that have a stage, provide dancing or entertainment features.

  • Business Occupancies (B) - use of a building or structure, or any portion thereof, for office, professional, or service transactions including normal accessory storage and the keeping of records or accounts. A registered design professional is required if the building or structure is over two stories in height or is five thousand square feet or more in total gross area. Examples include: office buildings; service stations; bowling alleys; greenhouses; banks; libraries (other than school); restaurants and dry cleaning establishments.

  • Educational Occupancies (E) - use of a building or structure, or any portion thereof, for the gathering together of persons for the purpose of instruction. A registered design professional is required for this type of occupancy regardless of the size of the facility. Examples include: public and private schools; colleges; universities, academies and day care.

  • Factory-Industrial Occupancies (F) - use of a building or structure, or any portion thereof, for assembling, disassembling, repairing, fabricating, finishing, manufacturing, packaging or processing operations but does not include buildings used principally for any purpose involving highly combustible, flammable, or explosive products or materials. A registered design professional is required if the building or structure is over two stories in height or is five thousand square feet or more in total gross area. Examples include: manufacturing plants, factories, assembly plants, processing plants and mills.

  • Hazardous Occupancies (H) - principal use of a building or structure, or any portion thereof, that involves highly combustible materials or flammable materials, or explosive materials that have inherent characteristics that constitute a high fire hazard. A registered design professional is required if the building or structure is over two stories in height or is five thousand square feet or more in total gross area. Examples include: dry cleaning establishments, explosive manufacturing, grain elevators, paint or solvent manufacturing, pyroxylin plastic manufacturing, sodium nitrate or ammonium nitrate, storage of combustible film and tank farms used to store flammable liquids or gases.

  • Institutional Occupancy (I) - A registered design professional is required for this type of occupancy regardless of the size of the facility:
    1. unrestrained occupancy--use of a building or structure, or any portion thereof, for the purpose of providing medical care and sleeping facilities for four or more persons who are mostly incapable of self-preservation because of physical or mental disability; examples include: hospitals, nursing homes, mental institutions (restrained and unrestrained)and nursery facilities providing full time 24-hour care for persons under six years of age.
    2. restrained occupancy - use of a building or structure, or any portion thereof, for the purpose of providing sleeping facilities for four or more persons who are confined or housed under some degree of restraint or security; examples include: jails, detention centers, correctional institutions, reformatories, pre-release centers and other residential-restrained care facilities.
  • Mercantile Occupancies (M) - use of a building or structure, or any portion thereof, for the display and sale of merchandise. A registered design professional is required if the building or structure is over two stories in height or is five thousand square feet or more in total gross area. Examples include: shopping malls, stores, shops and markets.

  • Residential Occupancy (R) - use of a building or structure, or any portion thereof, for sleeping accommodations not classified as institutional occupancies. A registered design professional is required if the building or structure is over two stories in height or is five thousand square feet or more in total gross area. Examples include: multiple dwellings (more than two families), hotels and motels, dormitories, lodging houses and convents and monasteries.

  • Storage Occupancy (S) - principal use of a building or structure, or any portion thereof, for storage that is not classified as hazardous, or for the purpose of sheltering animals. A registered design professional is required if the building or structure is over two stories in height or is five thousand square feet or more in total gross area. Examples include: aircraft hangars, garages, warehouses, storage buildings, freight depots and automobile parking structures.

 


 

EXEMPT BUILDING PROJECTS

 

The following building projects/occupancies or portions thereof are exempt from having plans and specifications prepared by registered design professionals per Tennessee Code Annotated 62-2-102.  However, if a design professional (architect, engineer and/or landscape architect) does prepare the plans and specifications for any of these projects, the plans and specifications must be sealed by the appropriately qualified Tennessee registrants.

 

  1. One-family and two-family dwellings and domestic outbuildings appurtenant thereto;
  2. Farm buildings not designed or intended for human occupancy; and
  3. Structures classified as business, factory-industrial, hazardous, mercantile, residential and storage occupancies as such occupancies are defined in the 1985 edition of the Standard Building Code that are less than three (3) stories in height and less than five thousand square feet (5,000 sq. ft.) in total gross area.
  4. Signs that do not exceed either of the following limits (unless failure of the support system for the sign is likely to cause harm to people or property):
    • Any portion of the sign is twenty feet (20') or more above the ground level; or
    • Any portion of the sign is fifteen feet (15') or more above the ground level, if the sign has more than one hundred twenty square feet (120 sq. ft.) in total sign face area.

A building official has the discretion, however, to require the services of a registered architect, engineer or landscape architect for any project.

 

For further information regarding:

  • Seal exemptions: Click Here
  • The definition of business, factory-industrial, hazardous, mercantile, residential and storage occupancies, review the information under "Projects Requiring Design Professionals."

 


 

DESIGN-BUILD PROJECTS


Design Build is a building process whereby one firm provides both the design and construction services to property owners or developers. This process does not circumvent and must not be used to circumvent the laws requiring architectural and engineering plans for new construction or remodeling of structures requiring plans and specifications by design professionals. Contractors, without in-house registered architects, engineers, or landscape architects, offering "design/build" services are not authorized to perform actual architectural, engineering, or landscape architectural services. Such professional services must be performed by duly qualified registrants of the Board of Architectural and Engineering Examiners in conformity with the provisions of Tennessee Code Annotated (T.C.A.), Title 62, Chapter 2 and the Board's Rules of Professional Conduct.

Contractors may offer "design/build" services to the public without having to comply with the firm disclosure and supervision requirements of T.C.A., Title 62, Chapter 2, Part 6, provided no "architectural," "engineering," or "landscape architectural" services are offered in-house.

The design team should be in place at the time the contractor is presenting the desire to provide design/build services or responding to prospective proposals. Members of the design team should be included in any meeting with clients in which the project is discussed. Any plans, specifications and/or reports which are part of a proposal and all subsequent construction documents, shall be prepared and sealed by the architect, engineer, or landscape architect having responsible charge of the project.

 

Click Here to view the Board's Design-Build Policy.

 


 

PUBLIC WORKS PROJECTS


Tennessee Code Annotated 62-2-107 requires plans, specifications and estimates be prepared by the appropriately qualified Tennessee registered design professionals for public works projects involving architecture, engineering or landscape architecture by the State, any city, county, town, village, or other political subdivision of the State when :

 

  1. The projects are greater than $25,000 (contemplated expenditure for complete project), or
  2. The project alters the structural, mechanical, or electrical system.

 

There is an exemption for public works projects located in a state park if the project meets the following conditions:

 

  1. The contemplated expenditure for the complete project does not exceed $100,000 in value and the work is defined solely as maintenance under the policy and procedures of the State Building Commission, or
  2. If the project is located in a state park and existing plans are used which have been designed and sealed by a registered architect, engineer, or landscape architect and a registered architect, engineer, or landscape architect reviews such plans for compliance with all applicable codes and standards and appropriateness for the site conditions of the project, makes changes if required, and seals the plans in accordance with state law.

 

 


 

Qualifications-Based Selection


Tennessee Code Annotated 12-4-107 requires design professionals to be selected by the qualifications-based selection process rather than the competitive bidding process for state and local public works projects. Qualifications-based selection means that the contract is awarded based on recognized competence and integrity.

In the procurement of architectural and engineering services, the selection committee/procurement official:

 

  1. May seek qualifications and experience data from any firm or firms licensed in Tennessee and interview such firms;
  2. Shall evaluate statements of qualifications and experience data regarding the procurement of architectural and engineering services and shall conduct discussions with such firm or firms regarding the furnishing of required services and base selection on the firm deemed to be qualified to provide the services required; and
  3. Shall negotiate a contract with the qualified firm for architectural and engineering services at compensation which the selection committee/procurement official determines to be fair and reasonable to the government and in making such determination, the selection committee/procurement official shall take into account the estimated value of the services to be rendered, the scope of work, complexity and professional nature thereof.