Virtually all residential construction must adhere to comprehensive building codes and standards governed by local and state laws. Because of the cost and complexity of developing and maintaining such codes, state and local governments typically adopt nationally recognized model codes, often amending them to reflect local construction practices, climate and geography. Most U.S. communities adopt the International Code Council’s I-Codes for this purpose.
The I-Codes address all aspects of single- and two-family as well as multifamily construction, including structural elements and the electrical, plumbing, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, and energy conservation requirements.
The requirements established by national code bodies, the modifications made by state and local governments, and the standards set by national organizations that are used in developing the model codes can significantly affect the construction, configuration and cost of new residential buildings as well as remodeling or additions to existing ones.
The original purpose of codes was to protect public health and safety, but government agencies have increasingly turned to codes to implement other policies, such as energy efficiency, resilience, sustainability, and property protection. Worse yet, some agencies advocate for energy code changes benefiting specific product manufacturers and against providing code users options and flexibility.
Building codes can have a profound impact on the comfort and safety of residents as well as the cost of construction and the cost of operating the home. NAHB can help its members work toward cost-effective and safe codes. Contact your staff liaison to learn more.