Building Codes

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Building Codes: The nuisance you should appreciate

Rennison Roofing and Exteriors, LLC

Building codes are the regulations contractors like our team here at Rennison Roofing must follow when we are doing any work on a home or business. These codes are a collection of the minimum safety standards for all aspects of building construction, provided in a systematic manner for easy reference. You can find codes on fire, plumbing, electrical and structural just to name a few. These codes are one of the main reasons why you hire a specialist for each project, a general handyman isn’t going to know the building codes for each field and chances are something will be missed. When doing a construction project on your home or business, it is important to meet all building code requirements and get all necessary permits to help you get a return on your investment. Projects that do not meet code and do not have permits will hurt the resale value of your property and you may be required to make expensive changes to meet bring your structure up to code before you can sell your home or business.

Contractor Working on a home

Before Building Codes

Building codes started in the late 1800’s when cities started to enact rules about how buildings were to be built. Most of these codes were in response to tragic events like the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which killed 300 people and destroyed millions of dollars in property. This fire had a direct effect on how we regulate the construction and insurance of buildings as well as provided the stage for the development of steel-framed buildings that litter our cities skylines today. After the fire in 1871, the town council banned wooden building materials and required flame-resistant materials, which at the time were very costly. Looking for a way to cut cost after millions in insurance claims paid out, the iron industry discovered ways to make fireproof iron columns and steel-frames. Fires were not the only events to cause building codes to be put in place; epidemics, floods and earthquakes have had a large impact as well. In the 1940’s our country had many outbreaks of typhoid fever, dysentery and other diseases due to the unregulated boom of the plumbing industry. Today we have regulated our plumbing industry down to how pipes are connected and vented to prevent cross contamination of our drinking water and our waste. From asbestos to lead paint, our world is much safer and cleaner because of building codes.

 

Driver of Innovation

Historically, building codes have had an unintended effect in our society, they have helped drive innovation. Looking back, it makes sense that preventing people from using wood to build large buildings would help reduce deadly fires, but at the time of each event the human thought “that won’t happen to me” took precedence. Due to building codes we have seen constant innovation in fields that would normally stay stagnant. Changes like fire and smoke alarms, fire sprinkler systems, energy efficient appliances, and shatterproof glass are some benefits we have seen due to the innovation spurred on by building codes. Our future holds many more building improvements as we move forward to meet the Energy Efficiency needs of our global community. Advancements like solar roofing systems, rot proof doors/ windows or blow up barrier walls to prevent flood waters from entering our home are going to become more common to meet our needs. Just another reason to appreciate these pesky building codes.

Close up of the GAF DecoTech Solar System

Quality Contractors Comply with Codes

Now that you have a better understanding of why there are building codes and what they do for our society, all you have to do is make sure next time you want to add or renovate your home or business you don’t look for the cheapest contractors. Quality contractors will comply with all building codes and help you through the permit process to ensure you get the best value for your investment. When looking for a remodeling contractor make sure you ask if they are fully licensed, insured and familiar with all Building Code requirements. Pay for the renovation to be done right the first time and get more bang for your buck. You can also take the steps to educate yourself on the codes that might effect your build so when you start to receive estimates you can feel good with your decision.

 

Here are some resources to help you with building codes and the permit process.

Building Codes Fact sheet

Code Glossary

Checklist of questions to ask your contractor

Checklist to acquire a Building Permit