BFD Exception Process

Only the Barrier Free Design Board can grant exceptions from Michigan's barrier free code requirements. A person requesting an exception must demonstrate compelling need to warrant an exception. A "compelling need" includes, but is not limited to, structural, site, economic and technological limitations, jurisdictional conflicts or historical structures, under conditions prescribed by rule of the construction code commission.

Exception applications can be obtained through the Bureau of Construction Codes (BCC), Plan Review Division, the BCC website at or local building departments. Detailed building or site drawings of all nonconforming areas and a $500.00 filing fee must accompany the completed application.

Upon receipt of an application for an exception, division staff reviews the application within 10 business days. If the application is incomplete, the applicant will be notified of the additional items necessary to complete the application. If the application is complete, the applicant is advised of a prehearing conference and hearing will be scheduled by the Bureau of Hearings.

The prehearing conference is an informal off-the-record discussion in which the applicant and/or the applicant's representative will meet with a staff member of the Plan Review Division to discuss the application and project, as well as possible alternatives and issues, which will be covered in the formal hearing.

Immediately following the prehearing conference, a hearing on-the-record will be conducted by an administrative law judge. The applicant has the responsibility at the hearing to explain the compelling reasons why an exception from the requirements is warranted for this project. After the hearing, the judge will prepare a written recommendation, which summarizes the facts in the case and recommends a decision to the Board. At the same time the recommendation is transmitted to the Board, the applicant and the other parties to the case will also receive copies.

A minimum of 10 days will transpire from the date of the recommendation and the date the Board takes final action. This period of time is provided to assure the applicant and the other parties an opportunity to review the recommendation and offer any written clarification or arguments believed necessary for the Board to consider before action being taken. Such clarification or arguments shall be in the form of a sworn statement.

Action taken by the Board can be appealed to Circuit Court in the county where the project is located within 60 days of the Board's Final Order. In addition, the Board may order a rehearing in a contested case on its own motion or on request of a party.

The law authorizes the Board to grant exceptions for stated time periods and conditions.

If an exception is granted, the Final Order of the Board will clearly detail any conditions or limitations established by the Board, which apply to the project. The Final Order must be displayed at a conspicuous location in the building and/or be available with the manager of the building for examination by the public, as a condition of the granting of the exception.

BFD Exception Intervention 
The barrier free design exception process allows for petitions for leave to intervene. The petition may be filed at any time before the commencement of the initial hearing. The petition must state the interest of the petitioner and show their participation will assist in the determination of the issues. The intervention must not unnecessarily delay the exception proceedings. Such petitions shall be addressed to the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Bureau of Hearings with a copy to the Barrier Free Design Section of the Bureau of Construction Codes.

Status under intervention is not automatic. The petitioner must provide material to show that they have factual information that is germane to the exception request. The parties in the exception process (the applicant and building official) may submit briefs on the petition to intervene. The petition is reviewed by the presiding officer and a recommendation is prepared. The recommendation is forwarded to the Barrier Free Design Board for a final ruling on the intervention.

If the petitioner is granted status as an intervener, they become a party of the proceedings. They now have all the rights and responsibilities afforded the applicant and building official. All parties are entitled to copies of the documentation in the proceedings. And, each party is obligated to copy all parties when submitting materials for the proceedings. 

Application for Barrier Free Design Rule Exception

Questions regarding BFD Rule Exceptions should be directed to the Plan Review Division at 517-241-9328.