Residential Building Codes

A good way to think about residential building codes is:

They all mostly stem from obvious or actual problems encountered by home owners and caused by builders, general or special contractors.

Another way to think about building codes is:

Many builders proudly hail that they “build to all building codes.” But all Residential Building Codes are basically the “minimum” building standards for the State or Local authority and are required even though the City/County inspector won’t verify the builder is in compliance with ALL codes.

Also, think about who is responsible:

Even though there may be city or county inspectors, they really are often times eiher overworked in the summer or don’t spend alot of time inspecting every inch of the home while under construction and have NO responsibility. What recourse do you have if a builder doesn’t build to all building codes and they still are issued a Certificate of Occupancy (COO)? None! Therefore, it is very important to hire your own home inspector to perform a “code” inspection of the home while under construction. This will ensure there are a set of educated eyes on what should be done in certain structural or framing areas before sheetrock and flooring get installed and hide any problems.

Question: Are current building codes applicable for older properties?

Answer: No – it depends on when the home was built and the codes in effect at that time. Therefore, if current code requires low flow toilets, they aren’t required “unless” the local government authority (city/county/water service) requires it.

The International Code Council is an association of several code development organizations gathered to standardize all residential and commercial building codes around the world. It is dedicated to developing model codes and standards used in the design, build and compliance process to construct safe, sustainable, affordable and resilient structures. Most U.S. communities and many global markets choose the International Codes. 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.

The following building codes were in effect (and therefore applicable to residential buildings) between 1991 and 2004:

On and after October 1, 1991 (up to July 1, 2004), “state minimum standard codes” means the following codes:

  1. Standard Building Code (SBCCI – Southern Building Code Congress International, Inc.); (MANDATORY)
  2. National Electrical Code as published by the National Fire Protection Association; (MANDATORY)
  3. Standard Gas Code (SBCCI); (MANDATORY)
  4. Standard Mechanical Code (SBCCI); (MANDATORY)
  5. Georgia State Plumbing Code or the Standard Plumbing Code (SBCCI); (MANDATORY)
  6. Council of American Building Officials (CABO) One- and Two-Family Dwelling Code, with the exception of Part V — Plumbing (Chapters 20-25) of said code; (MANDATORY)
  7. Georgia State Energy Code for Buildings as adopted by the State Building Administrative Board pursuant to an Act approved April 10, 1978 (Ga. L. 1978, p. 2212), as such code exists on September 30, 1991; (MANDATORY)
  8. Standard Fire Prevention Code (SBCCI); (MANDATORY)
  9. Standard Housing Code (SBCCI); (OPTIONAL)
  10. Standard Amusement Device Code (SBCCI); (OPTIONAL)
  11. Excavation and Grading Code (SBCCI); (OPTIONAL)
  12. Standard Existing Buildings Code (SBCCI); (OPTIONAL)
  13. Standard Swimming Pool Code (SBCCI); and (OPTIONAL)
  14. Standard Unsafe Building Abatement Code (SBCCI). (OPTIONAL)

The following International Building Codes (i.e., “state minimum standard codes” ) were in effect since July 1, 2004:

  1. International Building Code (ICC);
  2. National Electrical Code (NFPA);
  3. International Fuel Gas Code (ICC);
  4. International Mechanical Code (ICC);
  5. International Plumbing Code (ICC);
  6. International Residential Code for One- and Two-Family Dwellings (ICC);
  7. International Energy Conservation Code (ICC);
  8. International Fire Code (ICC);
  9. International Existing Building Code (ICC);
  10. International Property Maintenance Code (ICC); and
  11. Any other codes deemed appropriate by the board for the safety and welfare of Georgia’s citizens.

It is important to note that since Georgia Law give the “mandatory” building codes (building, electrical, gas, mechanical, plumbing, CABO, energy, and fire codes) above statewide applicability, local governments do not have to adopt them specifically. Local governments can exercise the right to choose which “permissive” (i.e., the remaining) codes they will enforce locally (interesting?).

The Georgia Department of Community Affairs maintains the Georgia State Minimum building codes.

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