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Building Codes

Building codes is a set of rules that specify the minimum acceptable level of safety for constructed objects such as buildings and nonbuilding structures. The main purpose of building codes are to protect public health, safety and general welfare as they relate to the construction and occupancy of buildings and structures. The building code becomes law of a particular jurisdiction when formally enacted by the appropriate authority.

 Building codes are generally intended to be applied by architects and engineers although this is not the case in the UK where Building Control Surveyors act as verifiers both in the public and private sector (Approved Inspectors), but are also used for various purposes by safety inspectors, environmental scientists, real estate developers, contractors and subcontractors, manufacturers of building products and materials, insurance companies, facility managers, tenants, and others.

 There are often additional codes or sections of the same building code that have more specific requirements that apply to dwellings and special construction objects such as canopies, signs,pedestrian walkways, parking lots, and radio and television antennas.

 The practice of developing, approving, and enforcing building codes varies considerably among nations. In some countries building codes are developed by the government agencies or quasi-governmental standards organizations and then enforced across the country by the central government. Such codes are known as the national building codes (in a sense they enjoy a mandatory nation-wide application).

 In other countries, where the power of regulating construction and fire safety is vested in local authorities, a system of model building codes is used. Model building codes have no legal status unless adopted or adapted by an authority having jurisdiction. The developers of model codes urge public authorities to reference model codes in their laws, ordinances, regulations, and administrative orders. When referenced in any of these legal instruments, a particular model code becomes law. This practice is known as adoption by reference. When an adopting authority decides to delete, add, or revise any portions of the model code adopted, it is usually required by the model code developer to follow a formal adoption procedure in which those modifications can be documented for legal purposes.

 There are instances when some local jurisdictions choose to develop their own building codes. At some point in time all major cities in the United States had their own building codes. However due to ever increasing complexity and cost of developing building regulations, virtually all municipalities in the country have chosen to adopt model codes instead. For example, in 2008 New York City abandoned its proprietary 1968 New York City Building Code in favor of a customized version of the International Building Code. The City of Chicago remains the only municipality in America that continues to use a building code the city developed on its own as part of the Municipal Code of Chicago.

 In Europe, the Eurocode is a pan-european building code that has superseded the older national building codes. Each country now has "country annexes" to localize the contents of the Eurocode.

 Similarly, in India, each municipality and urban development authority has its own building code, which is mandatory for all construction within their jurisdiction. All these local building codes are variants of a National Building Code, which serves as model code proving guidelines for regulating building construction activity.

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