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.

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.

Kentucky Building Code

The Kentucky building code2006 International  Building Codethe International Code Council, Inc., changed in some places to suit the needs of the specific Kentucky code.  The Kentucky building code provides minimum standards to ensure public safety, health, and welfare as they are affected by building construction and to secure safety to life and property from all hazards incident to the occupancy of buildings, structures or premises.  The Kentucky building code is a statewide uniform building code and is mandatory for use by all local governments. 

One of the more interesting clauses in the Kentucky building code is the special religious group use where the religious group can appeal to the commonwealth of Kentucky if a clause or amendment of the Kentucky building code is in direct conflict with the groups religious beliefs.  If the group can attest that they are in deed requesting the waiver for religious means and not for economical, aesthetic, or convenience reasons and it does not impede upon the safety of occupants and surrounding residents, then a committee will consider the waiver. 

As with most state building codes, the Kentucky building code outlines mechanical, plumbing, fire, energy, and electrical codes to be strictly adhered to the state building code with regard to single and two-family dwellings as well as temporary buildings, commercial and church buildings.  The Kentucky building code also outlines the approval of work permits, stop work orders and appeals, unlawful or unsafe structural conditions and penalties for illegal contractors and unapproved structures and additions.  Use and occupancy requirements are detailed for establishments such as bed and breakfasts, local and state jails, day care centers, with special provisions for day cares with licensed after school programs.   Day care facilities are also to have locks on all doors with comprehensive emergency exit strategies, appliance safety, corridor length, interior finish and fire protective signaling systems.

Massachusetts State Building Code

Who is Responsibly for the Building Code?

All construction and renovation projects in the state of Massachusetts are governed by the Massachusetts State building code.  The Board of Building Regulations and Standards administers the Massachusetts State building code. This is an eleven-member board that derives authority from the State of Massachusetts.  The eleven members of the Board of Building Regulations and Standards also comprise the Building Code Appeals Board for the purpose of deciding appeals and interpreting the Massachusetts State building code. The Board of Building Regulations and Standards also deals with the education and certification of local building officials.

What does the Building Code Regulate?

All contractors must be registered as a Home Improvement Contractor and/or licensed as a Construction Supervisor, depending upon the type of work to be done, prior to the start of any work.  A complaint can be reported to the Board of Building Regulations and Standards regarding any Home Improvement Contractor, Construction Supervisor or local building official for noncompliance to the Massachusetts State building code or other regulation. 

Operating without a certificate of registration issued by the department, abandoning or not completing a contract without justification, changing building plans or materials without owner approval or failing to pay for services and/or materials supplied by a subcontractor are just a few examples of violations of the Massachusetts State building code and can be the basis for a complaint. Some other violations of the Massachusetts State building code include offering to obtain or negotiate a mortgage on behalf of a mortgage lender, advertising without declaring a valid contractor registration number or knowingly making any misrepresentations or false promises in order to procure a contract.  

What Does the Building Code Require for a Building Permit?

The minimum construction documents, according to the Massachusetts State building code, required to obtain a building permit include a site plan, foundation plan, floor plan, framing plans, exterior elevations, constructions schedules, fire protection locations and energy conservation plans.  Of course, other documents might be required depending upon the size, type and location of the construction project.

Mass Building Code

When a construction project is started in Massachusetts, the general contractor must pay close attention to the Massachusetts. building code. From the beginning of a project to the very end, this set of general rules governs the entire process. There is a set of codes for the digging of the foundation, the style of the framing, the electrical system, the plumbing, the heating, and the roof.

Failure to comply with the Massachusetts building code will result in a major headache for the builder. First, work can be stopped completely by an inspector who is unhappy with the job. This causes money to be wasted until work can start again. Second, the cost of fixing any breeches of the code can be expensive, and no one likes to do a job twice. Finally, if a problem is not fixed, there is a possibility that the inspecting authority could levy fines, until the mistake is fixed. For a smooth job, and the most profit possible, it is advisable to become familiar with both the state and local codes.

There are many resources available that can help a person learn about the Mass building code. Contacting the state office that governs the codes is a good place to start. For more in-depth study, there are many books available that explain the codes, though they may very technical. In addition, there is the option of taking classes at a local school to learn the details and nuances of the Mass building code, as well as various other resources, depending on location.

Many builders who have worked in Massachusetts for a while may know most of the Mass building code, but as new laws are passed, some of the details of individual rules may change. The same resources can be used to learn about changes to the code, as well. A good familiarity with the Mass building code will help to ensure that a project will finish on time and on budget.

Michigan Building Code

Any building contractor in the state of Michigan is required to obtain a building permit when undertaking a major structural alteration of a building, or starting a new construction. The building permit states the contractor or builder will follow the Michigan building code. In most instances normal maintenance does not require a building permit. Work that is not considered normal maintenance includes the removal of a wall, or any portion, the cutting or removal of a support beam, or the removal or change of any required means of exit.

The purpose of the Michigan building code is to insure the safety of the public concerning the construction of, or alteration of any building. Separately building permits for plumbing, mechanical and electrical work are also required when appropriate. These usually include the addition or replacement of plumbing, electrical or mechanical fixtures such as a new sewer pipe, electrical service, or heating/air conditioning unit. It is a violation of Michigan building code to undertake any major structural modification without a building permit.

The applicant of a building permit must submit in writing, detailed plans outlaying the specifications of the work to be done. This includes location of property lines, exact proportions of the project, and the kinds of materials to be used.  In most instances the local government issues the permits, and is also responsible for the inspection of the work upon completion.  The building inspector makes sure that the contractor followed the Michigan building code regarding the building materials, quality of work, deviation from plans, or any other circumstance that may result in a hazardous condition.

In essence the purpose of a building permit insures that a building inspector inspects any major work to a building. The building inspector insures that the work is up to the Michigan building code insuring the safety of the public.

Minnesota Building Code

There are certain aspects to the Minnesota building code pertaining to modular wheelchair ramps that need to be studied including those of building permits which allows for exemptions under section 301(b) 7 of the Uniform Building Code for platforms and walks as well as driveways that do not exceed thirty inches above grades that are not covered by building permit requirements.

Land Use/Zoning Permits

There is also special local government regulation with respect to land use/zoning permits which may place restrictions on distance to property lines as well as on maximum area and even height and more. However, the specific requirements can vary between jurisdictions which mean that it is up to the local governments how they interpret the Minnesota building code.

Another facet to the Minnesota building code deals with guardrails and according to UBC 1711 open as well as glazed sides of stairways, ramps and landings that rise to more than thirty inches over grade must have guardrails that will act as protection. In case of guardrails near to a ramp or landing that serves a single-family dwelling, it must be at least thirty-six inches high or more and there must also is intermediates that will prevent spheres of six inches in diameter from passing through.

However, another change to the Minnesota State Building Code that came into affect from March twenty-fifth in the year 1995 was that the intermediates should be installed in order to not let any sphere of four inches to pass through.

As far as the code pertaining to ramps is concerned, when ramps are meant to be used to allow people to leave the building, their construction must conform to UBC 3307. Other aspects that are also dealt with in the Minnesota building code include weather exposure, and footings as well as miscellaneous matters.

New York Building Code

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.

New York State Building Code

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.