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America’s Residential Building Codes and Production Standards... Unplugged

By Guest Author | February 9, 2012

While many Americans believe that homes in previous eras were better built than those constructed today, it is a misconception. There may be wonderful features in that early Victorian home, and it may have been well constructed, but the simple truth is that America’s homes today are the best built in history.  Talk to your local fireman and he will tell you that the quality of newly built homes has almost put them out of business. Fires do not start and do not spread as quickly in a new home as they once did.

Building codes

Building codes and standards we all must follow - courtesy © FikMik -

Ask any knowledgeable person who lives in a hurricane prone area about wind damage to older homes compared to those recently built, and they will tell you that today’s modern homes stood up the ferociousness of the storm far better than homes of yesterday.

The International Building Code

Throughout America, building codes drive production standards. Most states now use the International Building Codes with some adjustments depending on the state. The International Building Code is a model code developed by the International Building Council.

The International Building Council was formed by three regional American building code agencies in the 1990s to deliver a uniform set of codes that every state can use and adopt.

IBC codes largely deal with fire prevention. This, however, affects much of the choice in design, materials, and structural integrity of residences. The IBC also references other code that a consistently adopted along with IBC codes. These include mecanical, plumbing, and electric codes.

Some code considerations

IBC codes complete a book of 700+ pages and code considerations include:

  • building occupancy classifications
  • building height and areas
  • interior finishes
  • wall, foundation and roof construction
  • fire protection systems
  • construction materials
  • escalators and elevators
  • means of egress and access

As you can easily see, these codes affect production standards in new home construction. You always want to find a builder with a reputation of meeting or exceeding local building codes and one who is knowledgeable about when and where exceeding those codes is a good idea. Another good idea is consulting with an experienced home builder (Americas Home Place, for example has 4 decades of experience) about codes and production standards.

Referenced standards

Building codes and production standards in America are not simply drawn out of a magician’s hat. Those codes are based on sound engineering and materials standards developed by appropriate agencies. Such agencies include ASTM International, American National Standards Institute, and the National Fire Protection Association.

Third party protection

The good news for new home buyers in America is that codes take on the power of law in each state. Those codes may vary somewhat from state to state and builders who build in various states are likely to build consistently to the highest standard required.

Such builders are subject to third party verification. An inspector will ensure that a home is built to code and to the highest production standards, allowing the home buyer some peace of mind.

Americas Home Place is your source for information about custom floor plans.

  • 2 comments on “America’s Residential Building Codes and Production Standards... Unplugged”

    1. Just a quick note, the name of the organization is the International Code Council, not the International Building Council. The Code Council is a member-focused association dedicated to helping the building safety community and construction industry provide safe, sustainable and affordable construction through the development of codes and standards used in the design, build and compliance process. Through public/private sector collaboration, the Code Council provides support to government by developing codes that allow for safe and sustainable construction. As a result, government does not take on the high cost of developing its own codes and benefits from code uniformity that encourages local, affordable construction growth. The I-Code family includes building, residential, fire, plumbing, mechanical, fuel gas and energy conservation codes. In March, the Code Council will introduce two new codes, the International Green Construction Code and International Swimming Pool and Spa Code.

      1. Thanks very much for the heads up Steve, we will make the appropriate changes. All the best, and thanks again for the helpful info.

        Update: As used in this article Steve, it appears the author has correctly associated the subject and the origin thereof. Still, your input is much appreciated.

        Phil Butler

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