NYC Building Code

Every building in New York City must meet certain safety, usability, and aesthetic requirements, and these are detailed in the NYC building code. Every phase of construction and renovation is governed by these rules. In addition, there are rules that preside over the overall appearance of a structure, such as which colors and building styles can be used in certain areas.

During construction or renovation, it will be necessary for a city employee to examine the building at various stages during the project, in order to ensure that all rules within the NYC building code are being followed. The project’s contractor must grant access to the site, regardless of whether it is a commercial or a residential structure. If any problems are found, work on other areas of the building may be delayed until the problem is fixed.

Those who own their own homes are not immune from compliance with the NYC building code, either. If one chooses to do a project within a home, even if it is minor and out of view, it may be necessary to obtain a building permit and allow the work to be inspected as it progresses. Failing to obtain the proper permits for the work can result in stiff fines for the homeowner, not to mention an unsafe house, if something was done wrong.

While the structure of the building is the central focus, the NYC building code also covers a wide variety of other issues, as well. Entrances to commercial buildings, for instance, must be accessible with a wheel chair. Air conditioning and ventilation systems must meet certain acoustic requirements. In addition to these examples, the NYC building code has many other special requirements that apply only to certain buildings, such as those that are in historic areas.

Though there are many different rules within the pages of the NYC building code, it is important to be familiar with them, not only for safety reasons, but also because non-compliance with the codes can be quite expensive.

San Francisco Building Code

The San Francisco Building Codes are amendments to the California Building Standards Codes.  Recently, the San Francisco building code has added provisions for ecologically friendly standards for commercial and private developers.  So far, Boston Massachusetts has been the only city in the United States thus far to set such rigorously environmentally friendly standards on private developers.  This San Francisco building code addendum is looking to improve energy use and water consumption and the quality of the interior space we ask people to live in and make efforts to reduce the city’s carbon footprint.  In 2004, the supervisors for the San Francisco building code approved an ordinance requiring all new municipal construction and major renovation projects to adhere to standards called LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. The United States Green Building Council, a nonprofit group of building industry leaders that promotes ecologically friendly building, developed the LEED certification system.  San Francisco expedites permits for developers who obey LEED requirements.

As a whole, the purpose of the San Francisco building code is to provide minimum standards to safeguard life or limb, health, property and public welfare by regulating and controlling the quality and ways in which buildings are built, destroyed, maintained, occupied, and used.  As a result, electrical equipment, wiring and systems in or on any building or structure moved into or within the city and county of San Francisco as well as mechanical and plumbing equipment must all adhere to strict codes as prescribed in the 2001 revision of the California building codes. 

Because California is known for its’ frequency of earthquakes, little can be done and little has been done to reinvent the San Francisco building code to reflect improvements on buildings to resist earthquake damage because realistically, no building is earthquake proof and will always suffer damage.  The goal of the San Francisco building code is to protect the lives inside the buildings while minimizing damage.

Los Angeles Building Code

City Department of Building and Safety

The city of Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety is responsible for more than 43,000 building code enforcement cases every year.  This department is not only in charge of the Los Angeles building code but many other residential and commercial building matters.  Everything from Los Angeles building code complaint resolution to security bars and sign enforcement is handled by the Department of Building and Safety.  Many of the functions performed by this department of the city are accomplished in conjunction with other city agencies.  The “Slumlords Task Force” and the “Pro-Active Code Enforcement” programs are handled in combination with the City Attorney’s Office and a number of other city agencies. 

Main Responsibilities

Of course, the main function of the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety is to review construction plans for complacency to the Los Angeles building codes and performing inspections to make sure these codes are met properly.  The Los Angeles building codes are in place to ensure the safety and appropriate appearance of the city.  Economic stability is also achieved using the Los Angeles building codes by fair and equitable land use regulations.  The Los Angeles building codes cover a number of topics other than direct construction plans review including fence specifications, board up or barricade regulations, vacant property abatement and trespassing.

Many Other Responsibilities

The Department of Building and Safety is responsible for more than just the standard Los Angeles building codes.  The “Annual Inspection Monitoring” program, also known as the AIM program, requires the inspection of all auto repair and dismantling facilities, junk yards, used car lots, storage yards, cargo containers and recycling centers every year for building and land use ordinance violations.  Failure to comply with these regulations can result in fines and/or revocation of their Certificates of Occupancy.  This is but one of the tasks delegated to the Department of Building and Safety. These responsibilities are extensive and varied but necessary to keep the city beautiful.

NC Building Code

Building codes are specific laws to tell builders what the minimum requirements are when constructing a building.  The laws are made for safety reasons and to protect the general public.  Most of the various building codes are designed to be followed by architects and engineers who are actually designing buildings however they are also building codes that apply to contractors, manufacturers and insurance companies.

Almost all building codes are designed at the state and local levels and they all vary, however all are fairly similar.  For example the NY building codes might require that electrical outlets be spaced no more that 10 feet apart while NC building codes may require that they be placed no more than 12 feet apart.  While many of the differences may seem trivial, it is important for the states to have separate building codes to take account for things such as the regional environmental conditions.

For example, the NC building codes are different than the Alaskan building codes because North Carolina has a temperate environment while Alaska has frigid conditions that put different strains on buildings.  NC building codes take into consideration tropical storms and hurricanes which might come out of the Atlantic Ocean.  North Carolina building codes might also take into account such things as local insects which may be a hazard to certain types of building materials.

Some states may also decide to be more progressive with their building codes than other states.  For example, the NC building code may not be as friendly to the environment as the California building code, a state well known for placing environmental concerns at the forefront.  States must decide for themselves how to strike a balance with deciding how much to require of the builders.  By requiring builders to do more they drive up the price of construction which can put a strain on the economy statewide.

Ohio Building Code

Like all other US states, Ohio has enacted laws requiring building construction projects that occur within its state boundaries to meet or exceed the standards established by the legislature.  The Ohio building code is based on the Internatinal Building Code (IBC) model that is fairly standard across the nation.

The Ohio building code addresses the design, materials, safety, and building practices that work interactively for the construction industry in the state.  These codes are vital information for everyone working in the building construction industry as well as for those working in complementary industries, such as real estate, housing, and tenancy.

Standards for mechanical systems are defined in the Ohio building code books.  The standards detail the acceptable materials and design requirements that must be met for systems such as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC); plumbing, water, wastewater, and sewage; as well as fire prevention and protection.

As is standard across most of the country, Ohio building code books address safety standards pertaining to traffic flow within a particular building.  Elevator and escalator systems must meet or exceed state requirements and all stairways and stairwells must do the same.

There are different Ohio building code regulations for residential and commercial construction projects.  Each type of building code is designed with the specific needs of the particular building construction industry in mind.

The needs of the environment as well as of the people are considered in the Ohio building code books.  Since the state orders the Great Lakes region, the environment of this ecologically sensitive part of the country is a key factor in establishing building codes along the lake shores.

Ohio building code standards must also consider the proximity of the state to Canada.  Building standards along the international border are designed so there is minimal impact to Canada.

Oregon Building Code

Any contractor that is planning to do a construction project in Oregon should be familiar with the statewide Oregon building code, as well as any local codes that may apply to the project. These rules dictate the safety, usability, and aesthetic standards that every building, residential, commercial, or industrial, must live up to in order to be approved for construction and completion. The list of rules that every project must adhere to is vast, and it will take careful planning to ensure that the building will fit the code requirements.

Every part of a building is governed by the Oregon building code, with special attention paid to the placement of the project, the design and style of the structure, and the heating, cooling, plumbing, and electrical systems. As construction progresses, at many stages during the project, it will be necessary to have an official building inspector examine the various parts of the structure. He or she will determine if all applicable rules have been followed, and order changes if necessary.

When an inspection reveals that the building has not conformed to the Oregon building code, the resulting delays can be expensive to the contractor. Mistakes will have to be repaired, and anytime a job is done over, money is wasted. In addition, until the issue is fixed, other parts of the project that rely on the completion of that section will be delayed, as well. Finally, the most expensive part of non-compliance with the Oregon building code can be the fines that the inspector has the ability to level, if the contractor does not proceed correctly.

Fortunately, there are many resources available that can help educate a contractor about what parts of the Oregon building code apply to his or her project. If the job is done correctly, from beginning to end, it will ultimately result in a higher profit for all of the people involved.

Texas Building Code

For those that are expecting to do some building in Texas in the near future, it may be a good idea to review relevant sections of the Texas building code, even if you are already familiar with it from past building projects. In recent years there have been a few changes to the Texas building code, particularly in the realm of energy conservation related building standards and codes.

In September of 2005, for example, new codes concerning building design and energy and water conservation came into effect. These new codes affect not only new construction, but also are to be applied in relevant renovations. Energy conservation has become a matter of increasing importance, and in many parts of the nation, local building codes are changing to help promote energy efficiency in an effort to conserve resources.

Texas building codes are based on a broad range of resources and studies, and local codes often take into consideration the particularities of the region. Some areas, for example, are more prone to serious windstorms, and the local building codes will contain differences from the standard Texas building code to accommodate the special building needs of the area necessary to ensure that buildings are as safe as possible and able to withstand local conditions.

Most state and local agencies responsible for setting and maintaining building standards and codes offer information online. That makes it much easier to track changes to the Texas building code, but it is always a good idea to follow up on the information obtained online to make sure that it is accurate and has not been recently changed.

The Texas building code helps to make sure that homes in Texas are as safe as possible, as well as efficiently designed. Even if you have built or renovated in Texas before, it is a good idea to review the Texas building code as it applies to your project and your region, as there have been several changes made during the past dew years.

Florida Building Code

The geography of every state provides a uinique set of circumstances and challenges for the building industry operating within its borders.  For this reason, most states have adopted building codes that are specific to the needs of their terrain.

For example, the Florida building code requires most new buildings to be built in such a way that they can withstand the forces of the frequent hurricanes the state is subjected to.  Builders in Wyoming rarely have need to even think about hurricanes.

To provide safety in times of hurricane, Florida building code requirements identify specific materials that allow for flexibility in strong winds where other materials might break or shatter.

There are hurricane-specific building techniques required of the Florida building code guidelines, too.  In order to get a building permit, contractors must be fully trained, certified, and, where appropriate, licensed to perform these very exacting techniques.

Hurricanes are not the only issues addressed by Florida building code books, though.

The Sunshine State is home of miles and miles of picture-perfect sandy beaches that are great for building sand castles but a little more care and forethought must be taken when building permanent structures, such as homes, on these ever-shifting sands.

For cities and towns along the coastlines of the state, Florida building code books address the sandy issue and require buildings to be constructed in a safe way.  These homes and other buildings must also be constructed in a manner that doesn’t damage the fragile ecology of the area, either.

Another area unique to the state that calls for specific construction consideration is the area in and surrounding the Everglades National Park.  This massive expanse of marshland is home to many endangered species of plants and animals that must be protected against pollution and habitat infringement.

All contractors licensed to operate in the state must be licensed to do so, as sanctioned by the Florida building code regulations.  Some of these contractors may operate all the way from the panhandle to the keys while others may specialize in the unique needs of one particular environment.

Either way, it is wise to check with the agency responsible for implementing Florida building codes and standards before hiring, just to make sure you are investing in a legitimate, responsible, builder.

Virginia Building Code

The Virginia building code, like all state building codes, demands that builders follow specific guidelines for new construction and for major renovations.  These include regulations about electricity, plumbing, gas, energy conservation, and other elements. Regulations vary between buildings intended for residential and commercial use. Be sure that your custom home plans keep the Virgina building code in mind. If you are moving to high-growth areas like Fairfax or Loudoun counties, be sure that your architect or developer has built other homes in the area that are compliant with Virginia building code regulations.  These regulations are numerous and complicated, but any experienced builder should know and follow them.  You can obtain your own copy of the Virginia building code if you are curious about specific details.

The codes cover a wide range of elements, including bathroom installation, hot tubs, access for individuals with disabilities, fire safety, and other areas (depending on if the building is residential or commercial.)  Apartment buildings or condos may have different rules as well.

Familiarity with the Virginia building code may demand special training. There are different Virginia building code certifications available. Be sure that any contractor who works on your house’s plumbing or electricity is also familiar with Virginia building code requirements. If your house is not up to code, you may have trouble selling it, so it’s a good idea to have a home inspector check for compliance as well, particularly if you have owned your home for many years, as building code regulations evolve over the years.  Beware of taking any shortcuts with the building code, as it could affect not only your experience in the house or building, but its future resale value.  Remember that it applies to major renovations as well (like putting in a new kitchen or bathroom, or putting on an addition). Virginia building code compliance is both a practical issue and a safety issue.

South Florida Building Code

The South Florida building code covers the southernmost parts of the state of Florida including Broward and Miami-Dade County.  Although the South Florida building code has been amended frequently to uphold the environmental and energy-efficient standards of today’s building economy, many of the initial properties of the South Florida building code are still relevant.

The South Florida building code was last completely renovated in 2004 with subsequent supplemental amendments the last being effective October 1st, 2007.  The 2004 South Florida building code and the 2007 supplemental amendments outline provisions and requirements for safe building and prevention of unlicensed building.  Some of these provisions include:  new requirements for retrofitting single-family roofs being replaced as part of the hurricane mitigation requirements, contractors holding county certifications must also be registered with the state of Florida Department of Business and Professional Registration, and a requirement that carbon monoxide detectors are to be installed in all sleeping areas of residential occupancies. 

The state of Florida acknowledges the leading cause of death for young children and medically frail elderly residents is drowning.  The recent code modifications also require that all residences with new swimming pools must be equipped with at least one preventative pool safety feature.  Those recommended by the legislature are most commonly are barriers, locked fencing, or enclosures.  Any doors or windows that allow direct access from a residence to the pool must also be equipped with self-closing, self-latching devices with release mechanisms.  Anyone found to be in violation of the code modifications for new swimming pools will be charged with a misdemeanor or incur higher penalties if a submersion incident occurs due to lack of safety precautions. 

The code modifications also detail procedures for identifying and reporting illegally licensed contractors.  Residents who have hired a contractor identified by the state of Florida or that suspect their contractor is illegally licensed are urged to call the answer center to report their suspicions.