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Building Codes 101: What homeowners should know

What are building codes?

Building codes are rules that set minimum requirements for safety in building projects. These rules are put forward by local, state, and national governments for use by safety inspectors, builders, architects, and engineers. The building codes lay out exactly how some things are to be done and how other things need to perform.

What do homeowners need to know about building codes?

Every jurisdiction in the country has a minimal set of building codes. When building a home or renovating one, applicable building codes should be considered at all times. The homeowner does not need to know the details of the code, but should know enough about when to pull building permits and ensuring inspections are done.

When hiring a contractor or builder, it is important for a homeowner to know if the project will need building permits and inspections. Factor the cost of such items into any renovation or building budgets. Insist that a builder or contractor meet local building codes.

Why is it so important to follow building codes?

First, codes are meant to ensure a home is safe.

Second, homeowners insurance assumes that all work done to a home meets building codes. If the work was not done to building codes, the insurance may not cover damage caused by the non-standard work.

Third, if work is done outside building codes, it may have to be redone later if found by a building inspector.

A good builder can help you navigate building codes.