In a state as diverse as New York, it’s easy to understand the need for building standards that vary according to the needs of a given area.
The New York building codes must meet the needs of one of the largest cities in the world as well as many small towns in rather remote locations. Elevations in the state range from sea level to almost a mile high, too, generating the need to adopt building standards that address the issue of altitude.
Perhaps some of the more rigid New York building codes address the needs of New York City itself. The city is by far the most densely populated area of the state and all building projects must be undertaken with the safety and needs of such a tightly packed population in mind.
New York building codes for the city must take into consideration existing structures that may be several hundred years old as well as the new construction currently underway. The city represents five counties so standards must be unified across those county jurisdictions.
New York City and Chicago are the only two major cities in the country that maintain their own buiding code models, although New York City is in the process of adapting its own codes to meet the International Building Code standards.
Because the state is one of the thirteen original US colonies, historical preservation is an important issue with New York building codes, especially in historically significant areas.
Building needs in the Catskill and Adirondack Mountain ranges poses specific needs on the New York building code books, too. In these often sparsely populated areas, fire protection features are critical as are all building issues dealing with environmental issues.
The waterways of the St. Lawrence Seaway and Lakes Ontario and Erie present their own unique needs and protections of the New York building code. These coastal areas, along with the area surrounding the Finger Lakes, require building standards that meet the needs of sensitive aquatic plant and animal life in these areas.
The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway also mark the international boundary between the United States and Canada. All building projects along the boundary must meet the New York building code while not infringing on the safety of Canadian resources.
The diversity of the state makes New York one of the most interesting areas of the United States. No doubt, the construction industry must also be interesting and diverse to meet the needs of its people.