Building codes are by definition a set of laws, ordinances, and regulations set out by a government legislative authority, such as a local government council, that regulates the construction of a building. The codes enshrine rules for the design of a building, how the building should perform, how it must be built, and which grade of materials companies must use. A set of building codes also includes electrical codes, energy codes, plumbing codes, and mechanical codes.
What Is the Main Purpose of Building Codes?
In the United States, building codes ensure a building meets certain standards. The codes set out the absolute minimum standards that contractors have to comply with. However, building codes do more than just govern basic construction. Building codes ensure compliance with:
- Public safety regulations
- Provision of public services regulations
- Building accessibility regulations
- Mandatory reasonable insurance regulations
- Design standardization
Public safety is paramount. Compliance with public safety regulations includes eliminating problems such as water contamination, safety inside and outside a building, and managing the risk of constructing near existing buildings. Furthermore, the codes play a role in the reduction of potential hazards and removing the threat of sub-standard design and execution. They protect the public by mitigating the risk of fatal design and construction flaws.
Provision of public services
Public services are the likes of fire and ambulance. These respondents must be able to reach and enter a building with ease. The codes also seek to protect those respondents in the course of performing their duties. Building codes extend to ensure that the building suits its environment by its appearance, has adequate stormwater drainage, complies with noise regulations, has a fire prevention and containment plan, and has access to water. The codes also focus on ensuring a safe working environment for construction workers and contractors.
Irrespective of a person’s limited capability, they must have equal access to a building as stipulated by federal law. Therefore, codes are in place to ensure compliance. Guidelines for building owners are provided in The American Disabilities Act (or ADA). The ADA covers the technical requirements for access to such building components as restrooms, elevators, and ramps.
Mandatory reasonable insurance
Insurance companies make use of the building codes to calculate and offer property insurance at a reasonable cost. The codes adopted then act as a guideline for specific standards and regulatory compliance requirements. Building code compliance must be kept up to date after the building is in service. Therefore, insurers have the right to hold an inspection at any time going forward and are armed with current codes that the building owner should be up to date with. Codes can change from time to time to keep up with new construction methodologies and new building materials. Insurance companies are entitled to repudiate claims for non-code compliant buildings.
Upon approval of the building design, workers must construct the building according to exact specifications. Stock standard elements of the building design must be built in accordance with generally accepted methods with a view to achieving a predictable outcome. This straightforward uniformity and minimum standard requirements make designs easier to approve, and mistakes or unapproved deviations easier to spot on inspection. By insisting on the conformity of construction, the quality of building and skill levels in the industry can improve and construction costs lowered. Moreover, it provides a level playing field for all builders and contractors. As a result of building codes, there is only one way to do things. That is the right way.
Ease of ownership
A building will be bought and sold several times over its lifespan. Therefore, potential buyers need to know if the building they want to purchase is up to date or not with the regulations. Building codes ensure compliance with basic standards over time. Therefore, building codes make it easier for buyers to find out if all is in order. Building codes can then effectively guide a buyer on whether or not to buy a building. If there is any doubt, potential buyers could ask the existing owners for approval to perform a building inspection and file a report with regulators.
Additional Reading: ADA Checklist for Existing Facilities
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