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What is a building code?
A building code is a set of regulations written by city or county officials with the help of construction pros that governs the design, construction and modification of commercial buildings, homes and other structures in the jurisdiction.
Violating these regulations can result in fines and/or penalties.
Safety is a top priority of cities and other jurisdictions. Building codes tackle a variety of safety concerns such as materials that are banned or the number of fire escapes needed in a single structure.
In addition, cities and counties that are prone to a certain type of natural disaster also may establish codes directly to counter that type of event.
To be sure, older buildings must be brought up to current code. If they fail to be updated, a building inspector could deem them unfit to live or work in.
In the case of new buildings, they must be constructed using the most recent codes. In addition to fines, failure to meet code standards during construction could possibly delay a project while problems are addressed. Serious violations could even end a project before it is complete.
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Building code example
One of the best examples of building codes designed to meet the dangers of a specific type of natural disaster were written in Los Angeles.
The area is prone to earthquakes and the city has adjusted its code to strictly monitor new and existing buildings. Through changes to previous versions of the code, the city has taken on the problem of concrete and wooden structures that lack the necessary earthquake reinforcements. These reinforcements are needed to address the shaking that occurs with even a minor quake.
One analysis found that only Honolulu has tougher building codes than Los Angeles. On the other end of the spectrum, Austin, Texas had the most lenient codes. The study was based on the change in housing prices and change in housing units in those cities.
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