Building codes are municipal and state regulations that dictate the design and construction of buildings. These ordinances may vary from city to city, but they typically all include requirements for safety, sanitation, and energy efficiency.
Building codes also specify the types of materials that can be used in construction, as well as the dimensions and features of buildings.
The purpose of building codes is to ensure that buildings are safe and meet certain minimum standards. For example, building codes may require that a building have a certain number of exits in case of a fire, or that the walls be constructed to be able to withstand a certain amount of weight.
Sanitation standards may require that all buildings have adequate plumbing and ventilation systems, and energy efficiency requirements may call for insulation or windows that minimize heat loss.
Building codes are developed by city officials in consultation with engineers and other experts. They are revised periodically to reflect changes in technology and safety standards.
More About Building Codes
Most cities have building codes that apply to all types of buildings including homes, offices, schools, and factories. However, some cities have separate codes for different types of buildings. For example, there may be separate code requirements for high-rise buildings versus low-rise buildings.
In addition, the federal government has building codes that can be different from that of a state that a federal building is being constructed in.
If you’re planning to build a new home or office, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the local building codes. Ignorance of the law is no excuse, and violating building codes can result in hefty fines or even imprisonment.
So, before you break ground on your new construction project, make sure you know what the rules are.
How Do I Assure My Building Complies with Health and Safety Codes?
No matter what size your facility may be, you need to make sure that it complies with relevant health and safety codes.
In addition to instituting regular inspections of all areas in which employees work or where the public comes into contact, there are a number of other things you can do to provide a safe place for both workers and customers.
The following checklist outlines some of the most important things to consider:
- Make sure that wiring meets current standards for efficiency and safety. You may need an electrician familiar with local and state code requirements to check any installations before they are put in service.
- Check if electrical circuits require grounding.
- Provide smoke detectors in all areas required by law.
- Install carbon monoxide detectors in any areas where combustion takes place (e.g., furnaces, boilers, fireplaces).
- Inspect all fire extinguishers to make sure they are properly charged and identify the locations where they should be placed.
- Review your evacuation plan to make sure employees and customers know how to get out of the building quickly and safely in the event of a fire or other emergency.
What To Know Before Renovating Existing Buildings
Whether you’re planning to add-on or renovate an existing building, here are 10 questions everyone needs to ask themselves:
- What building codes do I have to follow?
- Do I need building permits for this project?
- How long will the construction last and how much will it cost?
- Do I have liability insurance?
- How do building inspections work during the building process, and when is the final one done before closing?
- Can I personally review your building plans with an architect or engineer in order to make sure they meet my needs and local building codes?
- If something goes wrong, what recourse do I have through a company?
- Do I need building inspections at various stages throughout the building process, and who is responsible for building them?
- If I decide to go with a different contractor or if a company goes out of business during this project, will there be any additional costs?
- How do mechanic liens work and can they affect me as a homeowner even after the building process has been completed and paid by the lender?
How Can A Construction Attorney Help?
A construction law lawyer can help you with the following issues and violations:
- Failed home or building inspection – Most states require either an inspection at certain stages in the construction process (i.e., framing stage and final walk-through), or after completion of the job. Inspectors check both the interior and exterior of the home for any code violations, building hazards, or other safety concerns.
- Framing inspection violation – A framing inspection is usually done when the building is about 80% completed, and is used to check that the structure of the building is correct and up to code.
- Rejected building permit – A building permit is a document that authorizes construction or renovation work to begin on a property. In order to obtain a building permit, you will need to submit architectural plans and/or drawings of the proposed project.
- Building code violation – Building codes are regulations that dictate how a building must be constructed in order to ensure the safety of its occupants. Most states have their own building codes, which contractors must follow when working on a property.
- Contracting without a license – A licensed contractor is someone who is hired to perform construction or renovation work on a property. It is important to ensure that you have the proper licenses and insurance required in your state.
- Mechanics’ liens – A mechanics’ lien is a legal document that allows contractors and suppliers to file a claim against the property owner’s assets in order to secure payment for services or goods provided to the property.
Do I Need a Real Estate Law Attorney?
The building industry has many complex laws, rules and regulations that must be followed. Even if you are building a home for your personal use, it would be wise to consult an attorney who specializes in real estate law to help guide you through the building process.
If you have any questions about what you need to do to ensure compliance with health and safety codes, don’t hesitate to contact a local real estate lawyer for advice.
A real estate lawyer can help you understand what is required in your area and may even be able to provide assistance with inspections. Taking these simple steps will help to protect you, your staff, your customers, and the reputation of your business.
It is also advisable to consult with a real estate attorney to discuss building codes before starting any building project.
A real estate attorney will be able to outline the building code requirements, as well as help you determine what type of building permits or building inspections are required for your project.
It is always advisable to consult with a lawyer when in doubt about construction law. A construction law attorney can also verify that the contractor you hire is properly licensed and insured.
Additionally, a real estate attorney can help ensure that building codes are followed; and can also guide you through property transactions (such as buying or selling property), building leases, contract disputes, property damage claims, mechanics’ liens etc.