Domestic and international manufacturing companies continue to open new manufacturing facilities and expand their existing facilities, in North Carolina and South Carolina. This raises the question of whether the manufacturing equipment used in such facilities should be installed by a licensed contractor under a building permit.
For example, manufacturing facilities often contain large and specialized processing and assembly equipment, such as painting equipment, conveyor systems, robotic welding systems, and equipment that generates electricity, steam and pneumatic air to support the processing equipment. This equipment is manufactured elsewhere, then shipped and installed after the construction of the building envelope is complete (although sometimes very large equipment must be installed during the construction of the building, before the roofs and walls are completed). Equipment manufacturers (i.e. equipment vendors) send their own employees to install equipment and help with start-up and testing.
In other words, once the envelope of the manufacturing building (eg the site and sends its own employees to install its equipment inside the building. It is not uncommon for such equipment to be manufactured at overseas and foreign suppliers send their employees to North Carolina or South Carolina to install the equipment.
The North Carolina State Building Code was amended in 2007 to clarify that “industrial machinery” is not subject to regulation under the North Carolina Building Code (NC Gen. Stat. Ann. § 143-138 (b9)). The term “industrial equipment” refers to the machines and equipment that are part of the manufacturing process of a product. The term does not include machinery and equipment permanently attached to or forming an integral part of the building, such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. North Carolina home inspectors will not inspect industrial equipment for compliance with building codes, but will inspect and enforce code requirements at points where industrial equipment connects to the building’s electrical system. In addition, building officials may require a building permit for the installation of industrial equipment and require that the equipment be connected to the building’s electrical system by a licensed electrical contractor.
Unlike North Carolina, the South Carolina Building Code does not address the issue of industrial equipment. However, a 1978 South Carolina Attorney General Opinion concluded that a company engaged in the unloading, moving and securing of certain machinery to the foundation of a building previously constructed to house such machinery is not not required to have a South Carolina general contractor’s license to perform such work. . However, the work involved in hooking up certain machine supply lines, such as water, air, and vacuum, requires that it be done by a licensed contractor (South Carolina Attorney General Opinion No. 78 -72 (April 12, 1978), 1978 WL 22553). The Attorney General’s opinions, while convincing, are not binding on the courts of South Carolina. Nonetheless, the factual situation and analysis presented in the 1978 opinion, as well as the supporting authority of other jurisdictions, are compelling, and South Carolina building code officials will be inclined to consider whether the installation of large industrial equipment and systems constitutes subcontract work for which a contractor license is required.
Although industrial equipment may be exempt from building code requirements, a building permit and contractor’s license may be required to install the equipment in a building and connect it to building systems. Therefore, the project owner, the wholesale building contractor and the industrial equipment supplier should carefully delineate the scope of their respective responsibilities related to the installation and connection of the equipment, as this directly affects the permits. , inspection, insurance, bonding requirements and overall project responsibilities and exhibits.