Building Codes: What You Should Know
by Chris Majzun Jr., President, North Coast Building Industry Association
If you are shopping for a new home, how can you be sure that it was built so that it does not cause health or safety problems for the members of your household?
The answer can be given in two words: building codes.
A building code sets forth requirements to protect public health, safety and general welfare as they relate to construction and the occupancy of a building. These codes include specific requirements for building materials, fire protection, structural design, light and ventilation, heating and cooling, sanitary facilities and energy conservation.
There is no national building code enforced by the federal government. Different areas of the country have different construction methods; the techniques used to build houses in a cold climate will be different than those used in a warm climate. Most construction in the United States is regulated at the local level. Only a few municipalities (mostly major cities) write and revise their own codes. Some states have mandatory statewide building codes.
Building homes is a complicated process, so building codes are often long and complicated. To prevent each local jurisdiction from having to develop its own complicated codes from scratch, there are several major model code organizations that draft codes that local areas can adopt.
The local area has total authority for adoption and enforcement. It may adopt a model code as is, adopt only specific portions, or add some of its own changes.
Code writing is a dynamic process, involving constant interaction between the public and private sectors of the construction industry. Federal, state and local governments and individuals involved in code writing and revision represent the views of labor, management, manufacturers and trade associations, contributing much time and technical expertise to the process.
Building codes do not deal with issues such as the quality of the workmanship and materials. Consumers are protected in these areas through their warranties.
States and localities generally balance these interests by implementing some type of residential building code. The issue for each state that has done so has been to determine which type of code best fits that state’s needs. Ohio has weighed in on this issue with the passage of a law authorizing the creation of a uniform set of residential construction standards to be applied statewide under one building code.
Focused on creating uniform statewide building standards for single-family dwellings and was designed to cover the new construction of any such dwellings, as well as any remodeling or addition to these dwellings. The law is not the actual building code that Ohio would use; rather, the law creates or empowers administrative bodies.
It has two primary goals. The first is to have uniform residential construction standards for Ohio by creating an advisory committee, which will recommend the residential building code as well as the mechanisms for its enforcement. The second is to create a Notice and Right to Cure provision that sets forth procedures for consumers to bring claims against residential contractors for construction defects.
The Ohio Board of Building Standards is comprised of fifteen members appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. The Board formulates and adopts rules governing the erection, construction, repair and alteration of buildings known as the Ohio Building Code, Ohio Mechanical Code, Ohio Plumbing Code and the Residential Code of Ohio. Our members subscribe to these codes and strive to give you the best product based on your needs.
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