Building codes are designed to protect visitors and residents to homes and businesses in case of a major crisis, and to prevent disasters from happening in the first place. The federal government provides fundamental building code guidelines, with local and state governments accountable for determining their own standards and inspecting buildings to ensure compliance.
Building codes start with the licenses for the construction of a new construction. Local governments issue building permits, or refuse applications, based on the size of the proposed construction and local statutes. Besides new construction, home and business owners need to receive a permit for major alterations to a building’s heating, plumbing or electrical system, renovations, building additions and exterior modifications, such as new decks, porches or garages.
Fire codes, that are enacted and enforced by local fire departments, are among the most frequent building codes. They include provisions for numerous points of departure, or egress. This means that each building must have several escape routes, such as exterior fire escapes or escape windows to function as a backup to the primary doors and inside stairways. Public buildings should have clearly market exit signals so visitors not familiar with the construction can get out fast. Additionally, these exits should be free of obstacles and obstructions; it’s illegal to keep items in halls or around fire doors. Fire codes also mandate that multi-unit apartment buildings include fire alarms in each unit along with a sprinkler system for the construction. Personal homes should have smoke detectors as well, with homeowners and landlords accountable for ensuring the purpose of all fire safety devices.
Some regional governments, such as those in earthquake-prone areas like California, require new buildings to add designs and materials that make them earthquake resilient. This doesn’t ensure that these buildings will defy every earthquake, but it significantly reduces the likelihood of major structural damage and an eventual collapse. Earthquake codes also need older buildings to be retrofitted with assistance braces that make them more secure in the event of an earthquake.
Local building codes also cover items like a building’s electrical system. Safety hazards like frayed cables or improper insulation about wires and sockets are code violations. Local governments won’t issue a building permit until a strategy proves that a brand new building will have sufficient drainage. Building codes also make it illegal to put cooking appliances in rooms other than the kitchen.