Building Safety Month: Week One


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Partnering with Code Officials to Build Stronger, Safer Communities

WEEK ONE // May 1-5, 2018

Whether you are going through a minor remodeling job or major construction, the code official wants your project to be a success. Building safety professionals play a major role in keeping the public safe. They can also help avoid potential problems that could put you at risk and cost you time and money.

Before you begin any work that involves construction, visit your local building department. They will explain the process, which may include getting a building permit, plan review and inspection. The process is designed to protect the home or building owner and the occupants. Code officials ensure that all buildings, including homes, businesses and places of public assembly are built to required building safety codes, which address structural stability, fire safety, exits, sanitation, electricity, energy efficiency, flood protection and more. These building safety professionals are responsible for protecting public health, safety and welfare through effective code enforcement.

What are Building Codes?

Building regulation in the United States began in the late 1800s when major cities began to adopt and enforce building codes in response to large fires in densely populated urban areas. The primary intent of early building codes was to reduce fire risk, but over time, their scope has broadened. Today, building codes are sets of regulations that address structural integrity, fire resistance, safe exits, lighting, ventilation, flood protection and construction materials. They specify the minimum requirements to safeguard the health, safety and general welfare of building occupants.

To learn more about building codes, check out the Code Council's Introduction to Building Codes. 

The International Codes (I-Codes), developed by the International Code Council, are a family of fifteen coordinated, modern building safety codes used in all 50 U.S. states and in many other countries that protect against disasters like fires, flood and other weather-related events and structural collapse. Documents summarizing the hazard-resistant provisions of the International Codes are available at FEMA’s Building Code Resources page. This page also includes other guidance documents on codes and standards.

Today, most of the United States and many other countries are covered by a network of modern building regulations ranging in coverage from fire and structural safety to health, security and conservation of energy.
Public safety is not the only byproduct afforded by modern codes. Architects, engineers, contractors and others in the building community can take advantage of the latest technological advances incorporated in these codes to impart viable savings to the consumer.

And help is available from code officials post-disaster. Interlocal agreements, mutual aid agreements and state to state agreements through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) are providing help with building inspections when needed.

Under certain conditions, FEMA HMGP can fund code enforcement costs after a disaster to ensure that disaster-resistant building codes are adopted and implemented.

The Codes Protect Your Investment

The biggest investment most people will ever make is when they buy a home. Homes represent security, a place where people will live, raise their families and share life with others. Whether you own or rent a home, following the building codes during construction or remodeling can help protect your health and safety as well as your investment.

The building codes include research from experts that help ensure every phase of the construction process is done correctly. In addition to helping make your home safe, the building codes can also help make your home more energy efficient, and conserve water and resources.

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 or your insurance premiums may become impractical to manage.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 make costly repairs.

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. 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, the 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. Plus you’ll benefit from the best energy efficient construction techniques that will continue to pay you back for the life of your home.

Invest wisely in your home or remodeling project. It’s a smart investment to build and remodel your home to the latest codes.

Resources

Home Safety Checklist

Building Codes: How They Help You Brochure

FEMA Building Code Resources

Prince William County: Recognizing the Silent Protectors 

ICC Safety Tips from Your Building Inspector

Benefits of Building Permits

Mold: Tips on Prevention and Control Brochure 

Building Safety Month: Week One

Building Safety Month: Week Two

Building Safety Month: Week Three

Building Safety Month: Week Four

Building Safety Month: Week Five