Building Codes | National Building Code | Certificate of occupancy
What is the Building Codes?
A building code, which is also called building control or building regulations is a collection of laws and rules that specify the standards for constructed structures like houses, buildings, and even non-building structures. Buildings must meet the code’s minimum requirement to obtain planning approval or permission, usually from a local authority council.
The code intends to provide comprehensive but easy to use minimum standards for the conventional construction of residential buildings and at the same time, provide the greatest design flexibility in recognizing other methods and materials of construction.
The term codes mean a collection of requirements that pertain to a specific subject and regulate particular practices. So, building codes are a collection of requirements related to buildings.
The primary application of these rules is simply to regulate new or proposed construction.
Building codes, set formal roles for things like the design of buildings, the way buildings are to be built, the materials to construct buildings, and the overall performance of buildings.
The term building codes caused some confusion because it has come to mean the collection of codes pertaining to a building, and it also means one particular code in that group.
The core family of building codes generally consists of a building code, which covers the
- Structural code
- Plumbing Code
- Mechanical Code And
- Electrical Codes.
In some places, that whole group of codes is known as the building code for that location. But there are also many other types of building codes.
With this in mind, the codes contain both prescriptive and performance requirements. Prescriptive means a set of rules the builder may follow to ensure that the building complies with the code.
Performance means an expectation that the building system will function in a certain way to meet the code’s minimum requirements.
In terms of the structural requirements performances typically achieved through engineering.
When using the conventional construction provisions, an engineering design is necessary for only those structural elements that exceed the limits of or otherwise not included in the code’s prescriptive provisions.
For example, the sizing of wide flanges steel beams, commonly used in dwelling construction, is outside the scope of the code conventional framing systems and must be designed in accordance with accepted engineering practice.
This does not prevent the designer and builder from using the prescriptive methods for the rest of the building.
In other words, the building codes permit partial or complete engineering of the structure and offer the prescriptive methods as an option, but they are not mandatory.
The code imposes seismic, wind, and snow loading limitations on using the prescriptive framing methods, as will be discussed in later sections of this topic.
The prescriptive design requirements are based on engineering analysis.
Why do we have building codes?
The purpose of the rules and regulations and building codes focuses on health and safety building codes. They seek to protect the health, safety, and general welfare of the occupants of buildings and the public.
They address many hazards, like a structural failure, fire, storm and wind damage, flooding, earthquakes, rotten decay, electrocution, dangerous fumes, and gas, drinking water contamination, and much more.
The critical point is that building codes are the minimum requirements for a building strictly to the codes and gnome, or will not guarantee adorable, high-quality building.
The codes only seek to ensure that the building is reasonably safe. Some have described it as the worst.
You could build a building by law, many building owners expect, and demand buildings that also have greater durability, Performance, and quality, and building codes alone may dictate their minimum requirements.
Why have building codes?
Why do jurisdictions impose rules on property owners dictating what can be built on their own property?
There are a number of reasons.
Building codes for Public Safety
Building safety affects others beyond just the building owner, whether it be concerned for contaminating the public water supply, the safety of the general public within buildings or the public’s safety near buildings the way buildings are built has a significant effect on many others.
Building codes for Public Services Provision
Building codes also ensure the provision of public services jurisdictions provide emergency services such as firefighting, and provision must be made to maximize emergency personnel’s safety responding to a building.
Building codes for Accessibility
Building codes also ensure Accessibility in equal access. Federal law requires that equal access be provided to buildings to allow all users reasonable access and use despite any disabilities they may have.
Building codes for Reasonable Insurance
Proper insurance is another important reason for building codes. To make insurance of property available at a reasonable rate, insurance companies rely on the use of building codes and the knowledge that a building is built to a certain appropriate standard.
Building codes for New Buyers Insurance
Another reason for building codes is the fact that buildings have a very long life. Buildings were often bought and sold several times throughout their life. New buyers need to have the assurance that a building is built safely improperly since many of the features of an existing building are hidden and impossible to inspect
Building codes for Necessary Expertise
Building codes are important because of the complexity of buildings they have become very complex structures. Even if a building owner wants to have a building built safely, they rarely have the necessary expertise to ensure that it’s done correctly on their own.
These are just some of the reasons why a jurisdiction may impose building codes. But ultimately, the decision regarding the type and extent of building codes used in a certain area or state is determined locally based on local needs and local values.
Aside from the core benefits of protecting life, health, and safety, building codes provide many other advantages to building owners, the building industry, and society.
Building Codes Provide Uniformity
Building codes can provide uniformity of building practice, making training easier and lowering construction costs.
They can also level the playing field for contractors by ensuring that all must meet a minimum construction standard.
Of course, building codes improved the quality of construction, and they ate and Accessibility for all users of public buildings despite any disabilities they may have.
Building codes for Appropriate Site interaction
Building codes ensure that structures have inappropriate interaction or interface with the site and with the community in which the building appears.
Some examples of this are stormwater runoff fire spread noise backload prevention in water systems and the like.
Building codes can contribute to a safe working environment for construction and maintenance personnel.
Building codes also contribute to a sense of community well-being in quality. Plus, they could make a community a desirable location for businesses to place facilities.
When do building codes apply?
Primarily, building codes come into play when a building or structure is newly constructed or existing buildings when remodelled, added to, or renovated.
These situations usually require a building permit to be obtained, which then invokes the building codes for new buildings.
It’s simple. The entire building must be built in full compliance with the building codes of that jurisdiction for that type of building for existing buildings; it gets a bit more complicated when additions are added to existing structures.
The new construction must be built in accordance with the current building codes. Unaffected and unchanged portions of the building are generally not required to be upgraded to meet the current building code.
The same is true for renovations and alterations to existing buildings; only the building’s affected portions must be brought up to code in most circumstances.
There are, however, a few circumstances that will cause existing buildings to be required to meet some code elements in some places, even though renovations aren’t planned. One example is the sale of the building.
Some jurisdictions have put in place requirements that items such as smoke alarms or ground fault current interrupters or need to be upgraded if necessary when a structure is sold.
It provides requirements for continued use and maintenance of plumbing, mechanical, electrical on fire protection systems in existing residential and nonresidential structures.
These codes could be invoked to require upgrades and repairs, even when no renovation or alteration would trigger the need for a building permit.
It’s important to understand that local requirements may vary, and you should contact your local building department to determine the specific requirements for your location.
Who is responsible for building codes in the US?
The answer is not always clear, but building codes are not dictated for the entire country by the federal government, unlike many countries.
Instead, the states have reserved that power since the federal government is not delegated the right to regulate buildings’ safety.
This is accomplished through the 10th Amendment to the constitution and is known as police powers. There are exceptions, though, where the federal government still plays a limited role in setting elements of national building codes.
The federal government also influences state policy by tying federal funding to the level of building codes adopted.
In turn, the various states approach building codes differently as we’ll see in the next slide.
Who is responsible for setting building codes at the state level again?
It varies even though all the states have the right to set building codes. The way they handle that right differs widely. The most straightforward approach is one where the state sets building code requirements that apply throughout the entire state.
Some allow local jurisdictions such as counties, cities, townships, parishes, etcetera, to amend the state code, while others do not permit any changes if changes are permitted.
Many states also require that local jurisdictions first get approval or demonstrate that the resulting code is no less stringent than the state code.
Other states use an approach, which is often called home rule. The authority to adopt building codes is further delegated downward to local municipalities.
Some states then require that the local jurisdiction adopted code, while others let the local jurisdiction decide whether to adopt any code.
All the restrictions and requirements placed on local governments, in this case, vary widely.
Commonly, however, state governments will set standards to apply to state-owned or funded buildings, regardless of where they’re building the state.
Who is responsible for enforcing building codes?
Well, like the approach to developing and adopting them, the Enforcement of codes varies somewhat from state to state.
However, most states and major jurisdictions have put in place code enforcement groups comprised of public officials.
A limited number of locations contract the function of code enforcement out to private inspection companies.
Code enforcement officials are usually required to undergo formal training and certification programs to ensure a high level of knowledge of their jurisdiction’s building codes and laws.
There are several types of code officials, including building code inspectors, plans examiners, and building code officials.
The code officials’ duties may be given to inspectors’ plan checkers, building officials, or any other authorized representative. Building code Inspectors are responsible for the physical inspection of buildings to ensure that they meet all local codes.
They could be certified in one or several disciplines, such as building plumbing, mechanical fire, zoning, and many others.
Some inspectors, are certified as combination inspectors that are qualified to inspect several elements of the building.
Building Approving Plans
This is more common in smaller jurisdictions, where the number of available staff does not allow for specialized inspectors for each trade building plans examiners review plans to ensure that designs meet the code’s requirements.
Approving plans before work begins saves both time and money by reducing costly designed missed aches.
Building code officials oversee and administer building code departments in a local jurisdiction.
They supervised the work of building code inspectors, plans examiners, and other administrative or technical staff for the department.
Lastly, many states also have licensing and certification requirements for various contractors to ensure that they are properly trained and competent with regard to local laws and regulations.
In most locations, code officials use a system of permits to administer the process of ensuring compliance with the building code.
Most building codes contained a section early in the document establishing when a permit must be obtained.
A permit is simply defined as an application for inspections. The actual forms and specifics may vary, but obtaining a permit begins a process of plan, review, and inspection that varies according to the type of structure plant.
The applicable code is usually the one in place when the permanent is obtained.
Of course, practice varies by location, but generally, even if a new code comes into force while construction is underway, the project is only required to meet the code that was in effect when the permit was pulled. Of course, that’s a long as the project is completed within a specified time period.
Numerous inspections may be required at various points in the construction process for the different systems.
This ensures that systems are inspected before they’re covered over or obscured, such as wiring or piping inside walls.
Inspectors also make use of tools known generically as red tags. Historically, these red tickets were put in place by inspectors to identify code violations on a structure.
Today they are used to communicate areas where a structure is out of compliance with building codes and instructions for bringing them back into compliance.
This may happen where there is a failure to pull a permit during a permitted construction project or after a local disaster is some kind, such as a fire, earthquake, or flood.
Certificate of Occupancy
The final step in a permit process is usually the issuance of a certificate of occupancy.
This indicates that the inspection process has been completed and the building has been found to comply with local building codes. The building owner may then legally occupy the structure.