Building codes are easily one of the more complicated aspects of any building project, but they save businesses from major lawsuits, getting denied by insurance and more.
You may assume that a small renovation, like adding a bathroom or office to the back of your establishment, will go unnoticed. Yet, the real goal of building codes is to keep your business, employees and patrons safe. There are specific reasons for every last building code, not just to make you jump through endless hoops.
The first building code was put into action back in 1800 B.C. The Code of Hammurabi was treated more like a criminal statue as it defined criminal punishment for poor workmanship that resulted in death. Since this time, many improvements and additions have been made to building codes that enhance overall safety. Building codes are influenced by natural disasters, ongoing events, learned experiences and a greater development of knowledge.
Without building codes our planet, health, safety, and finances are all in jeopardy. So while it may take some extra steps to ensure all codes are met, they serve a purpose.
Interestingly, not all jurisdictions enforce the same building codes due to restricted funds and resources. There is a big push to create a clear cut set of building codes that transcend state borders and local jurisdictions. Unfortunately, as of now, that’s not the case. This can result in some confusion without an experienced and knowledgeable project manager on board.
The Importance Of Building Inspectors
If you don’t apply for building permits that means you don’t get the luxury (yes, the luxury) of a building inspector. Sure, they are dreaded and often hated, especially when they tell you “fix this and fix that” or, “no you’re not approved…” but they serve an important purpose.
A building inspector knows what codes you need to follow to keep your building safe and sound for years to come. Plus, without proper permitting insurance has every right to decline your claims and blame the issue on faulty wiring, improper installation or other building code oversights.
Energy Efficiency Codes
Energy efficiency is an important part of building codes, and basically means a building can work more efficiently without using as much power and resources. This is a win-win for businesses because it saves money over time.
US building sectors currently use up around 40% of all energy in the US, that’s more than the industrial and transportation sector. As a result, new construction plays a hefty toll in greenhouse gas emissions.
Energy codes are put into place to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which have been shown to increase worldwide temperatures, increase sea levels and produce more severe weather. Energy codes have grown stricter since 2012, but as a result buildings built in or after 2012 use up as much as 1/3 less energy than buildings constructed between 2006 and 2011.
Updating Business Codes
Updating business codes may sound like a pain but it’s a necessary component. Some are pushing to make the three-year updates a six-year code cycle, but others argue this is way too many years of innovation to ignore. In fact, keeping up-to-date on building codes is proven to generate valuable operational cost-savings for building owners. According to the Department of Energy, the energy efficiency codes added between 2009 and 2012 saw a return on investment within 1 to 2 years.
Example Building Codes That Are Often Ignored
Everything from fire alarms to handrails and ventilation are governed by building codes. Here are a few examples of building codes you don’t want to ignore, as well as how easily things can go south if they are ignored.
Adding humidity-controlled venting fans in the bathroom is a great start, but where do these vents lead? If they go to an enclosed attic space, for example, you’re in violation of code. Not to mention, you’re creating the perfect breeding grounds for mold and wood rot. If employees are forced to breath in mold day in and day out you’re going to have some sick workers on your hands. If the cause relates to building code violations, things just got worse.
There are many rules and regulations regarding electrical junction boxes. For starters, junction boxes must be easily accessible and visible. All wire ends located inside of the box should be at least 6-inches long in order to make easy connections. Also, wires that enter through the box must be clamped to the box in order to prevent movement.
If these regulations are not followed and an electrical fire takes down your entire building to a smoldering mess, you don’t want to get denied by insurance because of faulty electrical work.
Not only are there codes specifying when and where you must install handrails, but also these handrails must be just the right size, shape and angle in order to be fully compliant. If the open ends of handrails are capable of snagging on a loose piece of clothing or handbag, they are not compliant.
If someone snags his or her t-shirt on the handrail before subsequently tumbling down the staircase you could have a serious lawsuit on your hands. Things only get worse if you are found to be in violation of building codes.
PCI’s superior general contracting services help to ensure every step of your project is completed correctly and up to code. We have many years of valuable experience in the industry, granting us ample insight to the best and most cost-effective ways to go about meeting all codes and exceeding all expectations.