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A building code (also building control or building regulations) is a set of rules that specify the standards for constructed objects such as buildings and nonbuilding structures. Buildings must conform to the code to obtain planning permission, usually from a local council. The main purpose of building codes is to protect public health, safety and general welfare as they relate to the construction and occupancy of buildings and structures. The building code becomes law of a particular jurisdiction when formally enacted by the appropriate governmental or private authority.[1]

Building codes are generally intended to be applied by architects, engineers, interior designers, constructors and regulators but are also used for various purposes by safety inspectors, environmental scientists, real estate developers, subcontractors, manufacturers of building products and materials, insurance companies, facility managers, tenants, and others. Codes regulate the design and construction of structures where adopted into law.

Examples of building codes began in ancient times.[2] In the USA the main codes are the International Building Code or International Residential Code [IBC/IRC], electrical codes and plumbing, mechanical codes. Fifty states and the District of Columbia have adopted the I-Codes at the state or jurisdictional level.[3] In Canada, national model codes are published by the National Research Council of Canada.[4]

"Sutyagin's skyscraper" (Небоскрёб Сутягина) – supposedly world's tallest wooden single-family house – found to be in violation of fire codes by the city of Arkhangelsk, Russia, and was demolished. [1][5][6]

The practice of developing, approving, and enforcing building codes varies considerably among nations. In some countries building codes are developed by the government agencies or quasi-governmental standards organizations and then enforced across the country by the central government. Such codes are known as the national building codes (in a sense they enjoy a mandatory nationwide application).

In other countries, where the power of regulating construction and fire safety is vested in local authorities, a system of model building codes is used. Model building codes have no legal status unless adopted or adapted by an authority having jurisdiction. The developers of model codes urge public authorities to reference model codes in their laws, ordinances, regulations, and administrative orders. When referenced in any of these legal instruments, a particular model code becomes law. This practice is known as 'adoption by reference'. When an adopting authority decides to delete, add, or revise any portions of the model code adopted, it is usually required by the model code developer to follow a formal adoption procedure in which those modifications can be documented for legal pu

Building codes are generally intended to be applied by architects, engineers, interior designers, constructors and regulators but are also used for various purposes by safety inspectors, environmental scientists, real estate developers, subcontractors, manufacturers of building products and materials, insurance companies, facility managers, tenants, and others. Codes regulate the design and construction of structures where adopted into law.

Examples of building codes began in ancient times.[2] In the USA the main codes are the International Building Code or International Residential Code [IBC/IRC], electrical codes and plumbing, mechanical codes. Fifty states and the District of Columbia have adopted the I-Codes at the state or jurisdictional level.[3] In Canada, national model codes are published by the National Research Council of Canada.[4]

The practice of developing, approving, and enforcing building codes varies considerably among nations. In some countries building codes are developed by the government agencies or quasi-governmental standards organizations and then enforced across the country by the central government. Such codes are known as the national building codes (in a sense they enjoy a mandatory nationwide application).

In other countries, where the power of regulating construction and fire safety is vested in local authorities, a system of model building codes is used. Model building codes have no legal status unless adopted or adapted by an authority having jurisdiction. The developers of model codes urge public authorities to reference model codes in their laws, ordinances, regulations, and administrative orders. When referenced in any of these legal instruments, a particular model code becomes law. This practice is known as 'adoption by reference'. When an adopting authority decides to delete, add, or revise any portions of the model code adopted, it is usually required by the model code developer to follow a formal adoption procedure in which those modifications can be documented for legal purposes.

There are instances when some local jurisdictions choose to develop their own building codes. At some point in time all major cities in the United States had their own building codes. However, due to ever increasing complexity and cost of developing building regulations, virtually all municipalities in the country have chosen to adopt model codes instead. For example, in 2008 New York City abandoned its proprietary 1968 New York City Building Code in favor of a customized version of the International Building Code.[7] The City of Chicago remains the only municipality in America that continues to use a building code the city developed on its own as part of the Municipal Code of Chicago.

In Europe, the Eurocode: Basis of structural design, is a pan-European building code that has superseded the older national building codes. Each country now has National Annexes to localize the contents of the Eurocodes.

Similarly, in India, each municipality and urban development authority has its own building code, which is mandatory for all construction within their jurisdiction. All these local building codes are variants of a National Building Code,[8] which serves as model code proving guidelines for regulating building construction activity.

History

Antiquity

Building codes have a long history. The earliest known written building code is included in the Code of Hammurabi,[2] which dates from circa 1772 BC.

The book of Deuteronomy in the Hebrew Bible stipulated that parapets must be constructed on all houses to prevent people from falling off.[9]

Modern era

Energy codes in the United States

The energy codes of the United States are adopted at the state and municipal levels and are based on the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). Previously, they were based on the Model Energy Code (MEC).

As of March 2017, the following residential codes have been partially or fully adopted by states:[18]

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