[ The latest news for Minnesota Housing design and construction partners ]
2019 Building Standards Updates
The following guides and standards have been updated and are applicable to multifamily rental housing developments selected by Minnesota Housing for financing in the 2020 Housing Tax Credits (HTC) funding year. This includes projects selected in the 2019 Consolidated RFP, 2020 HTC allocations through Round 1 or Round 2, and 2020 HTC 4% Only projects. These updates will be available on Minnesota Housing's Building Standards webpage in April.
Rental Housing Design/Construction Standards (RHD/CS)
Chapter 2 - General Occupancy New Construction Minimum Standards
  • A window for natural light must be provided.
  • Exceptions. Windowless bedrooms (designed to meet applicable building codes) may be allowed:
    • if the local Tenant-based Rental Assistance (TBRA) voucher administrator receives approval for an acceptability criteria variation from their HUD field office, or
    • without an acceptability criteria variation if 100% of the units receive Project Based Rental Assistance (PBRA).
Dwelling unit bathrooms:
  • Three bedroom dwelling units will be required to have at least a full bathroom plus a half (1/2) bathroom. Previously they were required to have at least a full bathroom plus a three-quarter (3/4) bathroom.
Plumbing systems and kitchen sinks:
  • Efficiency units and one bedroom dwelling units will be allowed to have a single bowl kitchen sink. Previously, only efficiency units were allowed to have a single bowl kitchen sink.
Floor drain at roll-in shower drying area:
  • This requirement will be removed.
Private well and septic:
  • Sites not served by municipal water and/or sewer may be approved to have private wells and/or sewers if they are code compliant and drinking water is tested and meets safe drinking water standards prescribed by Minnesota Department of Health.
  • Low-sloped roofing types have been expanded to now allow:
    • A 60 mil PVC membrane fully adhered or induction welded
    • A 60 mil TPO membrane fully adhered, induction welded, or ballasted
    • A 60 mil EPDM membrane fully adhered
    • A Four-ply asphalt/gravel built-up assembly
  • Sloped roofing manufacturer’s warranty has been changed to a minimum 30-year warranty in lieu of 25-year warranty
Chapter 3 - General Occupancy Rehabilitation Minimum Standards
Adaptive Reuse:
  • A clarification regarding needs assessments for adaptive reuse projects will be included. All Adaptive Reuse projects must follow either Substantial Rehabilitation or Moderate Rehabilitation requirements and must include a Needs Assessment. New improvement work as part of an Adaptive Reuse project must follow Chapter 2 General Occupancy New Construction Minimum Standards.
20-Year Capital Expenditure (20YCE) template:
  • A new 20YCE template has been created for Scattered Sites/Multiple Building types. This new template includes separate tabs for each different site or building type within a single funded project. A summary tab will auto calculate cost for each site/ building. The new template is available now and can be downloaded on the Minnesota Housing Building Standards webpage.
Chapter 4 - Supportive Housing Minimum Design and Construction Standards
  • This chapter has been deleted.
Chapter 5 - Accessibility Standards
  • Type A Accessible Units within Townhomes. Regardless of being built to Minnesota Building Code or the Minnesota Residential Code, townhome projects must meet the minimum 5% Type A Accessible unit threshold.
  • Roll-in shower requirements applicable to Type A Accessible units have been removed. Roll-in showers, if required, must be provided in accordance with the Minnesota Accessibility Code.
Contractor's Guide
Chapter 13 - End of Construction
Identity of Interest - When there is an identity of interest between the owner and contractor, the contractor must submit a Contractor’s Certificate of Actual Cost HUD Form 92330A audited by an independent public account in accordance with requirements established by HUD as follows:
  • At the end of construction after final contractor payment, but before the final draw close-out for projects with Minnesota Housing's:
    • Deferred funding
    • First Mortgage
  • At the end of the project and before IRS Form 8609 issuance for 4% and 9% Low Income Housing Tax Credits projects.
An identity of interest exists between the Owner and the contractor when:
  • There is any financial interest of the Owner in the contractor or any financial interest of the contractor in the Owner.
  • Any officer, director, or stockholder or partner of the Owner is also an officer, director or stockholder or partner of the contractor.
  • Any officer, director, stockholder, or partner of the Owner has any financial interest in the contractor; or any officer, director, stockholder, or partner of the contractor has any financial interest in the Owner.
  • The contractor advances any funds to the Owner.
  • The contractor takes stock or any interest in the Owner entity as consideration of payment.
  • Any relationship (e.g. family) existing that would give the Owner or contractor control or influence over the price of the contract or the price paid to the subcontractor, material supplier or lessor of equipment.
Architect's Guide
Chapter 5 - Owner/Architect Agreement
The 2017 version of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) B101, B102, B201, and B103 are allowed, however they must be amended to ensure the architect’s basic services fee includes:
  • Compliance with the Minnesota Housing Sustainable Housing Standards, and
  • Civil engineering
Multifamily Intended Methods Worksheet (IMW)
Intent to Comply: The Optional Points (OP) column has been revised so that there are no optional points indicated in the template. Previously, all possible OP were indicated. It will be the responsibility of the person completing the form to add chosen OP to the OP column.
2019 MN Overlay to the 2015 Enterprise Green Communities Criteria
Chapter 2 - Project and Rehabilitation Type
An Adaptive Reuse clarification will be included:
  • For the purpose of complying with the MN Overlay, all Adaptive Reuse projects must follow either Substantial Rehabilitation or Moderate Rehabilitation Mandatory/ selected Optional Criteria requirements. New improvement work as part of an Adaptive Reuse project must follow our Rental Housing Design/ Construction Standards Chapter 2 General Occupancy New Construction Minimum Standards requirements. Adaptive Reuse projects are not considered New Construction projects.
Request for Feedback:
Design/Build Mechanical Electrical and Plumbing (D/B MEP)
Per Minnesota Housing Architect’s Guide, D/B MEP is not allowed. Currently, a traditional Design/Bid/Build delivery is required with all engineering included under the architect’s contract. We have received a number of requests over the years for us to allow D/B MEP by those who feel it might be a way to bring costs down.
Minnesota Housing's understanding of a D/B  MEP contract removes the design of HVAC, plumbing, and electrical from the architect’s contract. The design of these systems is then carried under the applicable subcontractor’s contract; thereby including it under the General Contractor’s contract.
Minnesota Housing's thoughts and concerns with Design/ Build MEP include:
  • We would expect lower A&E fees because mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering fees would not be needed under the architect’s scope of work. How much savings could we expect on A&E fees? 
  • When would Minnesota Housing typically receive a full MEP scope of work for our plan review approval prior to loan closing? Minnesota Housing currently requires plans and specifications. Should MEP designs with fixture cut sheets, shop drawings, etc. be provided prior to closing to clearly identify what’s included in the construction contract?
  • We believe there is more control over aesthetics under a traditional Design/ Bid/ Build delivery. In a D/B MEP approach, what steps could be taken to avoid roof vent pipes and AC condensers being placed on the front of a building? Are there standard performance criteria we should consider?
We want your feedback. If you have comments about D/B MEP, please contact Mike Thomas by Friday, March 29 at mike.thomas@state.mn.us or 651.276.1170.
ENERGY STAR Multifamily New Construction Program Update
Until recently, multifamily new construction projects seeking ENERGY STAR certification had to either participate in the Certified Homes program or the Multifamily High Rise (MFHR) program. To better serve the multifamily sector, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed the ENERGY STAR Multifamily New Construction (MFNC) program to serve all new construction multifamily buildings. The new program combines technical requirements from both Certified Homes and MFHR programs. The ENERGY STAR MFNC program began in January, 2019 and allows three options to achieve the Performance Target:
  • Energy Rate Index (ERI),
  • ASHRAE 90.1, and a Prescriptive Path.
The new program uses a similar Certified Homes checklist style for its program documents. 
EPA's Implementation Timeline:
  • January 2019: ENERGY STAR MFNC Program available for eligible projects. Eligible projects may continue following the Certified Homes or Multifamily High Rise programs.
  • January 1, 2021: ENERGY STARS MFNC Program required for eligible projects. Eligible multifamily projects permitted on or after this date are only able to earn ENERGY STAR certification under the ENERGY STAR Multifamily New Construction Program.
Minnesota Housing's Implementation Timeline:
  • Required for 2020 Consolidated RFP/2021 Housing Tax Credits
  • Allowed now with prior approval from Minnesota Housing
Tips for Successfully Completing the Multifamily Intended Methods Worksheet (IMW)
When completing the IMW to be in compliance with the MN Overlay, make sure the section titled: “How Will Criteria Be Implemented? And, where in the plans, specifications, or other place will compliance be documents” column clearly indicates how the criteria will comply.
Do: Clearly indicate where in the specifications where compliance is shown.
Don't: Do no indicate “See Specs”, “See Plans”, “Will be met”, or “By Owner” 
Minnesota Housing staff must be able to determine if the person completing the IMW has a full understanding of what is required and has a path to be in compliance with all Mandatory and selected Optional Points. See below for a good example of a properly completed criteria:
Project Spotlight: Main Street Flats, Cambridge
This project is a recently completed new construction, elevator equipped, two-story apartment building located on Main Street in Cambridge. The project provides 28 affordable housing units in the heart of an active walkable downtown. The unit mix includes (14) one bedrooms and (14) two bedrooms. Three detached garage buildings provide 28 single stall private garages for residents. This two-story height building with a warm palette of exterior materials complements the neighboring downtown buildings. It also fits nicely into the adjacent single family neighborhood across the street.
  • Developer: Metro Plaines
  • General Contractor: Dave Cecil Builders
  • Architect: Sikes Abernathie
  • Construction Costs: $4.2 million/$152,500 per unit
  • Total Development Costs: $6.3 million/$225,500 per unit
Archived Building Standards (fka Design & Construction) eNews
If you would like to access our archived Building Standards eNews, visit the Building Standards webpage on Minnesota Housing's website.
If you have questions about this eNews or other rental housing design and construction topics, contact one of our staff architects. Find out which architect works in your region.
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