Whether you're a homeowner getting ready to dive into a little bit of do-it-yourself work or you're a contractor new to a particular area, finding out all the local building codes is vital before ground is turned. To dive into a construction job without full knowledge of the codes can result in some serious trouble down the road.
Codes that are necessary to understand inside out and backward will depend on the type of job being undertaken. Plumbing codes, for example, likely won't be needed for a bedroom expansion, but roofing, electrical and standard construction codes will be necessary.
For homeowners wanting to find out the basic requirements for anything from a simple deck addition to a full room, a trip to the local building office should net all the necessary information. Go with the lowest common denominator on the government food chain to ensure the most localized information. States may have their own building codes, but counties and even cities can make them more strict in certain areas. When this is the case, the city codes, for example, will take priority within that city's limits. The county codes will rule outside the cities boundaries and the state's will serve as a backdrop for all the codes.
Pulling permits for construction often beings in a local permitting office and the people who work in these places are generally more than knowledgeable about what's required for any type of construction. It's a good idea to check with the local permitting office before plans are even drawn up and at different phases of the construction project, especially if the job is a big one.
Depending on the type of construction being under taken, the local building office, too, may need to send inspectors out before work can progress from one stage to the next. In a typical room's construction, for example, inspectors will need to check the foundation for its compliance with codes, the walls, the fire safety ratings, the roof, the electricity and even if the plumbing if it's included in the structure. These inspections might delay construction from time to time, but they are vital for the building process to avoid unnecessary fines down the road and they serve another purpose as well.
Building codes in general are designed to ensure a structure is built to meet minimum safety and endurance requirements. Without codes, anything would fly. Homeowners would get rooms sure to fall down during the first big storm and lots of money would be lost. Building offices and permitting processes can be hard to navigate, but they're necessary and important to any good construction job. These inspectors who come out not only help protect your investment, they could be saving your life if they spot faulty construction and refuse to let it fly.
If you're a homeowner, consult with your local building permit office before starting any major project around the home. Oftentimes there are permits that need to be pulled for any major job. Not knowing the permits are needed isn't an excuse to avoid fines down the road. Contractors, too, should make sure they're more than familiar with all code requirements in particular areas.
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