Many states have building codes which specify the minimum requirements of safety a building must conform to before being used. The main purpose of a building code is to protect the public from potential risks to the occupants of the building. Aside from the codes pertaining directly to the building, building codes are also created to regulate things such as pools, sidewalks and porches.
Building codes can cover a wide range of building features. Almost all building codes have structural and fire safety rules, however things such as energy conservation and air quality codes are fairly recent additions to many state’s building codes. Usually things such as the aesthetics of a building are not included in a building code however some cities may have laws regarding the aesthetics of the building to ensure that the building will fit in with the rest of the city.
The 2006 New York State Building Code had 34 chapters covering everything from determining the maximum occupancy to the use of glass in a building. The New York State Building Code also had 13 appendices covering topics such as protection against rodents. A list of all the buildings codes is available for free; however it is a long and boring read so you may find it easiest to talk to an expert home inspector or a builder who is probably much more familiar with the New York building codes.
When it comes to building codes, usually there is a fairly basic set of building codes created at the state level, like the New York State building codes. From there cities and towns have the option to add to the building codes and tailor them to the local area. For example, the installation of sidewalks is an important aspect of city building codes, however in suburban areas sidewalks are only required in the main streets.