There are three prominent model code organizations in the United States:
The BOCA National Building Code
Located in the northeastern United States, published by Building Officials and Code Administrators International.
The Standard Building Code
Located in the southeastern United States published by the Southern Building Code Conference International
The International Building Codes published by the International Conference of Building Officials in the Western United States.
The exemptions listed here only apply to those states using the 2000 International Building Code.
The following list of activities have been exempted from the building permit process by Section 106.2 and Section 503.4.8 of the 1997 Uniform Building Code:
1. Fencing not over 6 feet high.
2. One story detached accessory buildings used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses, and similar uses - provided the floor area does not exceed 120 sq. ft.
3. Movable cases, counters, partitions, and office dividers not over 5' 9" high.
4. Painting, papering, and finish work.
5. Temporary motion picture, television, and theater stage sets and scenery,
6. Certain on-grade water tanks under 5,000 gallons.
7. Storage of less than 2,500 cubic feet of combustible empty packing cases, barrels, boxes, and similar containers.
8. Platforms, ramps, driveways, and sidewalks not more than 30" above grade and not over any basement or story below.
9. Retaining walls that are not over 4 feet in height measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall unless supporting a surcharge or impounding Class I, II, or III-A liquids.
10. Some window awnings.
11. Tents or air supported structures under 200 sq. ft.
Uniform Fire Code (UFC) Exemptions
1. Temporary canopies under 400 sq. ft.
2. Lumber storage if less than 100,000 board feet.
3. Tire storage if less than 1,000 cubic feet.
Exemption from the permit requirements of these codes does not allow you to do any work in violation of the code.