You need to ensure your work conforms to the state codes of the state in which you are working. Click the flag of the relevant state to continue. If there is no applicable code required by the state, see the next tab "No State Code?"
No State Code?
You might think every state would have the same set of codes, with individual variations. For example, Building Code, Electrical Code, Mechanical Code, and Plumbing Code. But that's not how it is. Some states have many codes, some have no codes at all. Some states require you to follow the relevant International Codes or an older set of International Codes. The International Codes are a product of the ICC (see the ICC tab for more information about the ICC).
Supposea state doesn't require a particular code (e.g., plumbing). What should you do? In such a case, follow the appropriate International Code (in this case, the International Plumbing Code). Be sure you get compliance to that code into the general job specifications, so everyone is bidding on the same job. You don't want to be underbid by the firm that does substandard work (which is work that isn't conforming to the code, by definition) with the customer comparing apples to oranges and thinking the substandard competitor is offering a better deal.
No More Confusion
Two general areas of confusion arise in regard to these standards. One is the way jobs are sometimes specified or put out for bid. The developer may have overlooked certain requirements, allowing an unscrupulous competitor to bid on that job while you would have done it the right way from the start. By having the codes on hand and referencing specific parts of your bid to specific codes, you force everyone to bid on the same job you're bidding on--not a cheaper job that naturally results in your being underbid.
Another area of confusion is what exactly the construction and renovation code requirements are, and which apply to your particular project. Ask 10 different project managers, and you're likely to get a dozen different answers. Thesolution is to obtain and study the codes relevant to your project. This is much more efficient than trying to argue with an inspector or attorney after you've already completed work that violates one or more code provisions.
Who is the ICC? It's the International Code Council. The ICC says it's "a member-focused association dedicated to helping the building safety community and construction industry provide safe, sustainable and affordable construction through the development of codes and standards used in the design, build and compliance process."
Why should you care?These codes form the basis for how construction must be done.
Many jurisdictions in the USA have adopted International Codes--sometimes in addition to other codes, sometimes in place of them. All fifty states (and U.S. possessions and many jurisdictions outside the USA) have adopted one or more of the International Codes, either with amendments or exactly as is.
Many owners (construction customers) are bound by International Codes, due to corporate policies--especially if the parent company is based outside the USA.
Code convergence is increasing. Other codes are becoming more like the International Codes with each code cycle.
Conforming to these codes, even if not specifically required to do by the local authority having jurisdiction, can make a huge difference in a liability suit.
The International Codes, if not required in your jurisdiction, can fill some "holes" in other applicable codes for engineering or design quality purposes. Thus, they make it easier for you to "sell" to the customer the right way to do the job. You have an authoritative basis for the "price hike" you are proposing over a less suitable design.
If you are not using International Codes now, you will be. Get in the habit of working with these codes.
Bonus!Now, here's a bonus for you. Suppose the state doesn't list a specific code. You do the work, something happens, and you are in court defending yourself against claims that your work resulted in an unsafe installation. There's no inspection report, because there was no standard required by your state. But wait. You did the work per the applicable ICC codes. Now, assuming good workmanship and good materials, the other party has a frivolous case.
Safety first. The International Codes, or I-Codes, published by ICC, provide minimum safeguards for people at home, at school and in the workplace. The I-Codes are a complete set of comprehensive, coordinated building safety and fire prevention codes. Building codes benefit public safety and support the industry’s need for one set of codes without regional limitations.
Federal applications. Many federal agencies (such as the Architect of the Capitol, General Services Administration, National Park Service, Department of State, U.S. Forest Service and the Veterans Administration) require work to be done per thethe I-Codes. The Department of Defense references the International Building Code for constructing military facilities, including those that house U.S. troops, domestically and deployed.
Where ICC came from. The founders of the ICC are Building Officials and Code Administrators International, Inc. (BOCA), International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO), and Southern Building Code Congress International, Inc. (SBCCI). At one time, they each published their own codes. But in 1994, they established the International Code Council (ICC)as a non-profit organization dedicated to developing a single set of construction codes. The International Code Series subsequently replaced the codes previously published by these organizations.
Code Compliance Tips
Obviously, you need to know what the regulations and requirements are. That's why you should buy this standard.
As you apply a requirement, look at the principle behind it. If you satisfy the principle, you won't be subject to "interpretation revisions" being forced on you later.
To understand a particular provision, understand its context. So rather than look up a sentence and try to parse out its meaning, look at the entire code and how it's arranged. Where does the provision fit within this framework, and what is that chapter or section trying to accomplish?
Remember that members of all code-making bodies write the codes in respect to the laws of physics, and to the body of knowledge in the respective trade or skill area addressed by the code. If you also understand these things, then you will be able to more properly apply a given code requirement.
Codes are nearly always written as minimum requirements. You may need to go beyond the code requirements for optimum operational efficiency or to satisfy engineering requirements based on best practices. The codes almost never limit you from going beyond the requirements.