A rundown of building codes state to state

December 13, 2012 2 min read

Depending upon what state or town you call home, you are subject to distinct building codes that limit how ambitious you can get in constructing or remodeling a property. These codes may give you a headache when filing the paperwork required to get your project underway, but they are more than likely in place for a good reason. You don't want your contractor cutting corners that will compromise your home's structural integrity. These laws help to guarantee lazy workmanship doesn't affect the safety of your family.

The codes are different for homes in parts of the country that are more prone to certain phenomena than others. For example, if you are looking to build a home in California, an area that is prone to frequent earthquakes, the building codes generally require more bracing for new structures than they would in other parts of the country where major earthquakes are a rare event.

These codes not only apply to the overall building but to the specific pieces that make up the whole home. Staircase rules vary state to state, for example, so before you look into designing building a new stairwell, you need to consult the official building codes of your municipality.

The Uniform Building Code (UBC) was the basic system used to dictate the spacing of balusters, the height of bannisters, and the rise and run of steps in residential and commercial structures nationwide. It was retired in 1997, although many states still use the UBC as a basis for their individual property codes in commercial settings.

The International Residential Code (IRC) was drafted in 2000 and modified in 2003. This set of rules expanded upon the safety requirements of the UBC, tightening the spacing between balusters raising the height of the railings.

Your state may have pieces of both coding systems in place, but in order to pass a home inspection and not get fined, its best to not guess before building your new staircase. Play it safe and follow the rules.

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