How to Meet Building Code Requirements

Three Parts:Finding Building CodesFollowing the Building CodesAppealing Building Code Decisions

Every state and city has building codes you must follow when building or renovating a building. You should find these codes before beginning any work. Read them and distribute them to employees who also need to follow the code, such as architects or construction contractors. If you are unable to comply with some aspect of the code, then you will need to seek an exemption from the appropriate administrative board.

Part 1
Finding Building Codes

  1. Image titled Meet Building Code Requirements Step 1
    Get a copy of the International Building Code. This is a model business code which many cities and states have adopted. You can find a copy on the Internet. Even states which have adopted the model code might have tweaked it, so you need to find your specific local code.
    • Nevertheless, the model code can give you a good overview of building code requirements.
    • You can buy a copy of the code from the International Code Council website.[1] Older versions may be available for free on the Internet.
  2. Image titled Meet Building Code Requirements Step 2
    Find local codes. Your city or county might have adopted different codes or supplemental codes. You should stop into your local town or county office and ask if you can get a copy of their code.
    • Also check online. Some cities post their building codes, policies, and guides online. You can download a copy.[2]
    • Some websites also gather links to state and municipal building codes. Construction Market Data is one site.[3] You can visit their website and click on your state.
  3. Image titled Meet Building Code Requirements Step 3
    Get contact information for building officials. At the same time that you are gathering building code materials, you should gather the names of relevant officials. You may have questions during the planning and building phases. You will want the relevant government official’s opinion before proceeding. Accordingly, find the names and contact information for the following offices:[4]
    • Building Inspector
    • Fire Marshal
    • Electrical
    • Boiler Inspections
    • Elevator Inspections
    • Health and Human Services
    • Historic Preservation

Part 2
Following the Building Codes

  1. Image titled Meet Building Code Requirements Step 4
    Read the code thoroughly. Before beginning construction or applying for your permit, you should have a thorough understanding of the building code. Codes typically have a wide scope and cover a lot of areas:[5]
    • Structural design
    • Accessibility
    • Means of entering and exiting the building
    • Fire and smoke protection
    • Electrical requirements
    • Plumbing requirements
  2. Image titled Meet Building Code Requirements Step 5
    Give the code to relevant employees. You need to understand the code, but you also need to ensure that the building is actually built according to code. This means giving copies of the building code to relevant people. Make sure the following also know the building code requirements:
    • Your architect. The building must be designed to code or you will not get approval for construction. Accordingly, your architect needs a copy of the relevant code.
    • Your contractor. The building must be built according to code as well. Sometimes buildings need to deviate from the architect’s plan. Nevertheless, the building must always follow the building code requirements. Whoever is overseeing the construction of the building should have a copy of the code as well.
  3. Image titled Meet Building Code Requirements Step 6
    Call government officials with questions. You might discover that you don’t understand some provision of the code. You should call up the relevant government office and ask a question before proceeding. For example, if you have a plumbing question, then call the office that oversees plumbing compliance.

Part 3
Appealing Building Code Decisions

  1. Image titled Meet Building Code Requirements Step 7
    Meet with a lawyer. Your permit might have been declined. Alternately, a building inspector might have found that your building doesn’t follow the code. You will want to appeal these decisions. In order to do so, you will need the help of an experienced attorney.
    • You can find a construction attorney by visiting your local or state bar association and asking for a referral. Make sure to get a referral to someone who specializes in construction law.
    • You can also get a referral from anyone in your business who has had a construction issue in the past. For example, a competitor might have just built an office building. You should call them up and ask if they would recommend their lawyer.[6]
    • Once you have a referral, you can schedule a consultation and talk about your issue with the attorney.
  2. Image titled Meet Building Code Requirements Step 8
    File an administrative appeal. Each county or city should have an administrative appeal process. You should stop into your municipal office to ask about the precise process. Generally, you will not have a lot of time to bring an appeal. For this reason, you should stop in and ask about the appeal process soon after receiving the rejection of your permit or being cited by an inspector.
    • There may be form available to fill out. Alternately, you may have to write a letter in which you provide personal contact information and explain whose decision you are appealing, as well as the reason for your appeal.[7]
    • You will probably have to provide the Board of Appeals with multiple copies of your application.[8]
    • There will also probably be a fee for filing an appeal, which will vary depending on the Board. You will have to pay the fee before your appeal will be heard.
  3. Image titled Meet Building Code Requirements Step 9
    Attend your hearing. Most boards will hold public hearings. You will be able to testify and present any witnesses that help your case. Your lawyer will help you determine what evidence you should submit to the Board.
    • Members of the public may also testify as well.[9]
  4. Image titled Meet Building Code Requirements Step 10
    Explain why you deserve an exemption. The Board can grant you an exemption from some aspect of the building code. You will need to present a compelling case as to why you need the exemption and also how you intend to satisfy the spirit of the law.[10]
    • For example, you should argue that your plan provides an equivalent level of life or fire safety.

Article Info

Categories: Accuracy | Build Design & Remodel Own Home