How You Can Take Advantage of Building Codes

Published on April 24, 2013 by
City of Utica Codes

City of Utica Codes webpage

Believe it or not, building codes have been used for centuries to protect the public health, safety, and general welfare. In the U. S., the Colonies installed them often and usually in just a few sentences restricting such things as the use of wooden chimneys to prevent fires. During the nineteenth century and the Industrial Revolution, American cities began enacting them after some major fires.

Most municipal codes are based on the International Commercial or Residential Code (ICC/IRC). When adopted they generally cover the design and construction of new buildings and renovation.

Though people often cringe at the thought of complying with various local building codes, they can be used to your advantage. In fact, the tag line for the International Code Council is, “Helping People Build a Safer World.”

So how can you take advantage of the Building Code to make your home or commercial building safer? Here’s an example of a type of project I run into often. A client has decided to make some improvements to his/her home. They decide they want to purchase insulation. But how do they know what minimum R-value to purchase? Can they leave the insulation exposed, or, do they need to cover the insulation to prevent the spread of fire? Or, when installing new windows, what is the minimum U-factor that is required for an exterior door or window in their region?

Glad you asked, because you can easily check New York State Codes for everything from the Fire Code to the Energy Conservation Construction Code online and for FREE.

Just click here to the New York State Division of Code Enforcement and Administration where you’ll see a menu in the right column. Click on Free Online Codes to get the titles of all of the codes listed. So, let’s go to insulation…

To check whether you’re purchasing insulation that meets code, just click the link titled, “2010 Energy Conservation Construction Code of New York State.” From here, click on, “Residential Energy Efficiency,” then “Building Thermal Envelope” to get to the specs for insulation that meets code in your climate zone.

Now these specs aren’t just minimum requirements, they are what the ICC deems safe and effective for you and your family or your business. For residential codes, you can also look up info on doors, windows, ducts, mechanical system piping insulation, pools, circulating hot water systems, and much more.

The point is that you want your construction and materials to meet code for your own safety and to avoid problems later on. Tragedies like the fires in nightclubs in Brazil this January and a few years ago in Rhode Island could have been prevented if owners had their buildings up to code.

You can inform yourself for your own safety easily by clicking on the free links above to check out the codes for almost every building and renovation contingency.

And, as always, any questions you might have on Codes for your new building or renovation, give me a call or get in touch here.

Until next time,
Dan Berkhoudt, Architect

Other helpful posts on this subject:

When Do You Need a Building Permit in Central New York & The Mohawk Valley

FREE Money Saving Advice From Your Codes Enforcement Officer & Other Local Agencies

Dan Berkhoudt, AIA, LEED-AP is an experienced architect working in Utica, Rome, and Central New York. He specializes in new building construction and renovation both commercial and residential. Call 315.737.4416 or contact him here.

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