Safety Tips for Your Homes
It takes everyone in a community to keep our homes, schools, offices, stores and other buildings safe. We are happy to provide you with the following information to help your family learn more about building safety and the important part building codes and permits play in your everyday life. Use this Web site to get the latest code news or to obtain the resources you need to learn more about building codes. Questions and Answers
- What does ICC do?
- What is a building permit?
- When do I need a building permit?
- What are the benefits of having a building permit?
- How can I obtain a building permit?
- How can I learn more about building codes?
What does ICC do? The International Code Council, a membership association dedicated to building safety and fire prevention, develops the codes used to construct residential and commercial buildings, including homes and schools. Most U.S. cities, counties and states that adopt codes choose the International Codes developed by the International Code Council. Back to the Top
What is a building permit? A building permit gives you legal permission to start construction of a building project in accordance with approved drawings and specifications. Building permits are very beneficial to you and your community. By working with an expert code official, you will benefit from their knowledge of the building codes to ensure your construction project is built right, will be safe and will last. Safe construction practices help protect you, your family, your friends and your investment. Be sure to get your local code official involved with your project, because the building department is on your side. Back to the Top
When do I need a building permit? The best way to find out if you need a permit is to call your local building department. The staff is there to serve the public by providing information about safety and understanding of your local building codes. Be sure to discuss your plans with the code official before you begin construction to determine whether you need a permit. If a permit is not needed, the code official will answer your construction questions and provide valuable advice. Permits are usually required for the following:
- New buildings
- Additions (bedrooms, bathrooms, family rooms, etc.)
- Residential work (decks, garages, fences, fireplaces, pools, water heaters, etc.)
- Renovations (garage conversions, basement furnishings, kitchen expansions, re-roofing, etc.)
- Electrical systems
- Plumbing systems
- HVAC (heating, ventilating and air-conditioning) systems
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What are the benefits of having a building permit? Increased Value — Your home or business is an investment. If your construction project does not comply with the codes adopted by your community, the value of your investment could be reduced. Property insurers may not cover work done without permits and inspections. If you decide to sell a home or building that has had modifications without a permit, you may be required to tear down the addition, leave it unoccupied or do costly repairs. Protects — A property owner who can show that code requirements were strictly and consistently met, as demonstrated by a code official’s carefully maintained records, has a strong ally if something happens to trigger a potentially destructive lawsuit. Ensures Safety — Your permit also allows the code official to protect the public by reducing the potential hazards of unsafe construction and ensuring public health, safety and welfare. By following code guidelines, your completed project will meet minimum standards of safety and will be less likely to cause injury to you, your family, your friends or future owners. Back to the Top
- Talk to Your Local Code Official Your code official wants your project to be a success and will help you avoid potential problems that could cost you time and money. You will be asked some basic questions (What are you planning to do? Where?), advised of any requirements and, if necessary, referred to other departments for their approval. The code official will provide you with the resources and information needed for compliance with the applicable building codes. You will then receive an application for a building permit.
- Submit Application At this stage you will document the “Who, What, When, Where and How” of the job, along with any sketches or plans of the proposed work. Normally, separate permits are required for electrical, plumbing, and heating or air-conditioning work. In a brief amount of time, the code official will review your plans and determine if your project is in compliance with local requirements. If your plans meet these requirements, a permit is issued. If not, the code official may suggest solutions to help correct the problem.
- Receive Permit Now that you have been approved for a permit, you have legal permission to start construction. A fee, based on the size of the job, is collected to cover the cost of the application, the review and the inspection process. An experienced code official is available to you should you have any questions concerning your project. You should consider your code official as an ally who will help you make your project a success.
- Job-site Visits On-site inspections will be required to make certain the work conforms to the permit, local codes and plans. Again, you will have access to the expertise of the code official to help you with questions or concerns regarding the project and to ward off potentially costly mistakes. The code official will let you know approximately how many inspections may be needed for your project. Usually, a one- or two-day notice is needed when requesting visits.
- Receive Final Approval The code official will provide documentation when construction is complete and code compliance is determined. You will then have the personal satisfaction of a job done right. Enjoy your new surroundings with the peace of mind and the knowledge that they meet the safety standards in your community.
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How can I learn more about building codes? This website can keep you up to date on the latest construction news and will offer many tips for how you can make your home as safe as possible. ICC offers a complete line of building codes from across the nation, as well as many helpful guides to help you understand the codes. Back to the Top