Building codes are essential guidelines that provide the minimum requirements for designing, constructing, and maintaining buildings. They ensure that structures are safe, functional, and comply with local regulations.
However, building codes are adopted at the state, county, and city levels, meaning no one code applies to all properties. In addition, how and where these building codes are published varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
As permit expediters, we regularly research which codes apply to which properties to help our clients have a smooth permit approval process. We’ve consolidated our approach to building code research below.
As you’ll see below, there are several places you can turn to for this information. We’ve already done a lot of this research and compiled it into our building code directory. We’ve included descriptions, links to code documents, and jurisdiction contact information.
Much of our research is at the state level, so we recommend you check with your local jurisdiction about local code adoptions.
Call the Jurisdiction
The easiest and safest way to identify all the codes your project needs to align with is to call the jurisdiction directly. They can tell you or point you to where you can find the most up-to-date information online.
Look on the Jurisdiction’s Website
Most jurisdictions, especially large metropolitan areas, publish the building codes they have adopted on their websites.
It can be challenging to find this information, but one approach that can save you some time is to do a Google site search. For example,
Google often does a good job of surfacing the pages with the code information, if it exists.
The International Code Council is the leading global source of model codes and standards and building safety solutions. Most of the codes that your jurisdiction has adopted are versions of ICC codes or the code itself.
The ICC website offers a resource to help you identify the currently adopted codes for each state. It includes information about special circumstances and statewide adoption requirements.
To use this tool, go to codes.iccsafe.org/codes. Click your state in the left-hand navigation bar. When the page loads, click the “Filter by Year” dropdown module at the top and select “Current Adoption”.
For some states, the ICC has included similar information for larger cities.
National Electric Code
The National Electrical Code (NEC) sets the foundation for electrical safety in residential, commercial, and industrial occupancies around the world.
Similar to the ICC, they have different editions of their code, which jurisdictions can choose to adopt.
Mike Holt Enterprises has done an excellent job curating all the current NEC adoptions by state and then added valuable commentary. You can check his page out here – www.mikeholt.com/necadoptionlist.php.
State Energy Code
The US Department of Energy’s Building Energy Code Program offers a search field that you can use to look up a state’s energy code adoption.
It includes the current state codes for both commercial and residential properties, along with effective and adoption dates, and additional details about how the codes are applied.
Building Energy Codes Program – www.energycodes.gov
The National Fire Protection Agency publishes more than 300 consensus codes and standards to minimize fire risk.
The site includes a Code Finder tool — codefinder.nfpa.org. The search field includes two sections. The first is where you need to enter the code you want to research adoption for. Depending on what you’re looking for, you’ll want to enter NFPA 101 Life Safety Code. The second field is where you enter your jurisdiction’s name.
Here’s a direct link to the NFPA 101 Code search — codefinder.nfpa.org/?nfpanumber=101
If you need help navigating the building codes adopted by your area, let us know. We can conduct due diligence research reports uncovering all of this information, which in turn can help streamline the permit approval process.