Building Codes – Debunking the Myths and Reality

building codes

Building a new home is a massive undertaking. You have to plan it well. You start looking for a suitable plot, hunt down a reputable builder, start getting the sketches done by the architect, and arrange for the raw materials needed. And while you go through this entire process, you will come across the term ‘building codes’ from your home builders in Florida. How do you perceive the building codes? Are they encrypted in the design layout that your architect makes? Is it a guideline set by the local municipal authorities?

Most of the Americans live the dream of owning a new home, but don’t get the liberty to build a house of their choice. Most of the local municipalities have building codes and zoning ordinance within the community so that the entire construction process stays regulated. These codes also define the renovation of buildings and even set the construction standards. The zoning ordinance, on the other hand, examines the suitability of the architecture of different places.  Violating any of these rules may lead to a severe penalty.

How is the Building Codes Enforced in Any Community?

In any municipality, there are building inspectors who thoroughly review the adopted building codes. Apart from enforcing the provisions mentioned in the building codes, the building inspector is also responsible for issuing the building permits, the occupancy standards and all other administrative activities necessary to regulate the building construction parameters. The building inspector has a job role that is far more challenging than constructing a building. To never ignore the quality of construction, the building inspector has some legal discretion to keep his powers absolute.

Meaning of Building Codes Explained

The prime focus of building codes, as set by the IRC is to ensure safety while constructing buildings, and also to make every single construction energy-efficient. However, there’s no specific reference to the quality of construction mentioned in building codes. However, instead of blindly following the building codes for your new home, understand the ideas that govern them: While designing the balcony or deck, there are specific measurements of installing railings to ensure that you don’t fall over while standing at the edge. Also, the configuration and material of the fences are strictly mentioned in the building code.

  • The minimum size of the bedroom window is also specified. This specification is designed to ensure that the occupants can escape through it during an emergency.
  • Often your house design incorporates a garage into it. You need to have a fire-resistant barrier between the garage and your living space so that the fire doesn’t spread quickly in case of emergencies.
  • You cannot use just any material for constructing the floors and the walls; your choices are restricted in this matter. The things you can or cannot use are clearly mentioned in the building code. The idea is to help homeowners choose the materials that are suitable for the local conditions and  capable of withstanding natural calamities and other hazardous factors to protect you and your family.

Familiarity with the building codes and its enforcement enable you to learn the probable constructional challenges in details. However, there are a few myths about the building codes which might mislead you through the entire process. But when you are starting to build your dream home, you should be wise enough to know all the codes in particular and not get derailed by the myths that exist.

So, What Are the Myths?

  • Your building must comply with the current building codes – This myth exists due to the misinterpretation of the building codes. The only codes that are applicable are the ones that are valid at the time of the construction. The building codes of a particular place keep changing with time. This can also be true that there existed no building codes at the time of the construction. Therefore, you cannot expect the building to comply with the current building codes which were made much later.
  • Only meeting with building codes can ensure quality construction – The truth is building codes have no direct bearing on the construction quality whatsoever. While the building codes cover a lot of areas, it does not cover factors like proper window installation, roof installation and deck construction which ensures quality construction and minimizes water intrusion. Some of the broad topics have been mentioned, but the detailed parameters of good craftsmanship are not covered in any of the building codes. Let’s explain the matter with the help of an example. There are some window performance standards mentioned in the IRC (standard building code), but there’s not much information provided about the use of flashing around the windows which is crucial to prevent intrusion of water.
  • If your home doesn’t meet the building codes, it is unsafe – This depends a lot on how much you’ve deviated from the codes while building your home. Sometimes, minor violations occur due to professional negligence. For example, missing out on the kind of flooring mentioned in the building codes may not cause any hazard. But forgetting the railing on the stair or a proper vent on the gas appliance may seriously jeopardize the safety of your home.
  • There is only one building code for a particular area – Lack of information leads to such myths. Three major building codes – UBC, BOCA, and SBC are already in practice in the United States, and all these codes have been consolidated to form the IBC of the United States along with its counterpart, the IRC which stands for residential buildings. Even though municipalities have not accepted these codes, you can follow any of the applicable ones.

Excellent and fair information is one of the most significant assets you can have before building new homes. And if you bear any doubts, feel free to contact the most reputed Florida home builders near you. You must not compromise with your dream; your dreams deserve to come true.