Building Codes

building codes_11zon

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The Building Code
The regulation of building construction is not a recent phenomenon.   It can be traced through recorded history for over 4,000 years.  This provides evidence that people have become increasingly aware of their ability to avoid the catastrophic consequences of building construction failures. In early America, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson encouraged the development of building ranging in coverage from fire and structural safety to health, security and conservation of energy. Public safety is not the only byproduct afforded by modern codes.   Architects, engineers, contractors and others in the building community can take advantage of the latest technological advances accommodated in these codes with resultant savings to the consumer. For codes to be effective, an understanding and cooperative relationship must exist between building officials and the groups whom they serve - homeowners, developers, urban planners and designers, as well as other echelons of the construction industry.  Codes must therefore be responsive to the government's need to protect the public.  They must provide due process for all affected and they must keep pace with a rapidly changing technology which gives birth to innovative ideas.   The inability of communities individually to provide such a code process in understandable; but collectively these communities can work together to develop and maintain codes.  This approach as given birth to the model code system. During the early 1900s, model building codes were authored by the code enforcement officials of various communities with key assistance from all segments of the building industry.  Model codes have now become the central regulatory basis for the administration of building regulatory programs in cities, counties and states throughout the United States.  They simply represent a collective undertaking which shares the cost of code development and maintenance while ensuring uniformity of regulations so that the advantages of technology can be optimized. Building safety code enforcement has historically been accompanied by defraying the costs of administration through a system of fees relating to a specific project - a system which is self-supporting.  These fees are generally less that 1 percent of the overall cost of the building project.  Public protection is thus obtained in a cost-effective manner with the entire process, from plan review to field inspection, carried out in a professional manner.  The system is so well developed that the true complexity of the process is obscure to many.  It is for the purpose of creating awareness of this important public service that this pamphlet is provided.
Who Needs Building Codes?
We all do -- whether in our homes, offices, schools, stores, factories or places of entertainment.  We rely on the safety of structures that surround us in our everyday living.  The public need for protection from disaster due to fire, structural collapse and general deterioration underscores the need for modern codes and their administration.
But how reliable are they?
Host aspects of building construction -- electrical wiring, heating, sanitary facilities -- represent a potential hazard to building occupants and users.  Building codes provide safeguards.  Although no code can eliminate all risks, reducing risks to an acceptable level helps.
What is a building code?
Practically, it is the government's official statement on building safety.  Technically, it is a compendium of laws and ordinances setting minimum safety standards and arranged in a systematic manner (codified) for easy reference.  It embraces all aspects of the building construction -- fire and structural items as well as the plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems.
Who uses building codes?
All people are impacted in a building construction project -- architects and engineers, contractors and subcontractors, the manufacturers and distributors of building materials and, finally, the user or occupant of the building.
How are safe buildings achieved?
Safety is achieved through proper design and construction practice and a code administration program which verifies compliance.   You, as a homeowner or business owner, have a substantial investment which can be seriously jeopardized through less-than-complete code enforcement or compliance.
Why should minimum safety codes apply to my own house?
For several reasons: For your personal safety and that of your family and the guests invited into your home.
To ensure the economic well-being of the community by reducing potential spread of fire and disease.
For the conservation of energy.
To protect future home purchasers who deserve reasonable assurance that the home they buy will be safe. (Did you know that a home is resold every five to seven years?)