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Building Codes

Building Codes; Then and Now

The first Building Code was introduced in 2200 BC, by Hammurabi. It said that if a builder built a house so poorly that it fell down and killed the owner's son, then the builder's son would be put to death. That first code was quite simple and direct, but did not address all cases. What if the owner set the house on fire and then it fell down. Who's fault would it be then? So a building code is not as simple as it may seem.

The City of York first passed a building code in 1901. It was a code written by an insurance company and as such addressed many of the concerns that exist today. However, an insurance company has a vested interest in the outcome or judgement of a building condition and as such may not have written a code strictly for the safety of the occupants and community.

Today, building codes are available that specifically relate to matters involving construction or renovation of a structure, fire related issues with any structure, plumbing matters, mechanical systems, and the proper maintenance of property and premises. In the past, these codes are available from a number of sources, BOCA, Building Officials and Codes Administrators, is the oldest. BOCA and two other code agencies, ICBO and SBCII, have merged to produce one set of uniform code standards that are accepted across the country, known as the International Codes.

What Is A Code and How Does It Become Law?

The City of York has adopted current 'model' building codes and specially adopted them for unique circumstances in the City. The Building Official and the Fire Chief and their staffs have reviewed all of the proposed codes and changed, or amended, them to apply specifically to York.

A model building code is a collection of rules, specifications, authorities, and other statutory requirements, compiled as a complete set by consensus vote of a group of professional building inspection professionals. As a model, a code is ONLY a recommendation. The content of the model code is involved with the physical structure and healthful conditions for occupants of buildings

When a government legislative authority adopts a model code, it becomes the law of the local jurisdiction. Building codes are, therefore, the government's official statement on building safety.

Building codes establish predictable and consistent minimum standards, which are applied to the quality and durability of both the construction and the materials. Minimum standards means that construction meets the criteria of being both "practical and adequate" for protecting individual's lives, providing a known level of safety, and provides for public safety.

Building and Construction Codes in the City of York**

When codes are adopted and become part of the law, certain agencies within the government are appointed to oversee the application of and compliance with the codes. In the City of York, Building Official and his staff are responsible to oversee the proper application and enforcement of:

  • New Construction (Both Commercial and Residential)- 2009 International Building Code along with Appendices B, C, D, E, F, H and J, as published by the International Codes Council.  Effective December 31, 2012 the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry requires compliance with the accessibility requirements of Chapter 11 and Appendix E of the 2012 International Building Code.
  • Residential Construction – 2009 International Residential Code along with Appendices A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, J, K and L, as published by the International Codes Council.
  • Existing Building Code - 2009 International Existing Building Code along with The Appendix, as published by the International Codes Council.
  • Fire Code - 2009 International Fire Code along with Appendices B, C, D, E, F and G, as published by the International Codes Council.
  • Plumbing Code - 2009 International Plumbing Code along with Appendices B, C, D, E, F and G, as published by the International Codes Council.
  • Mechanical Code – 2009 International Mechanical Code along with Appendix A, as published by the International Codes Council.
  • Fuel Gas Code - 2009 International Fuel Gas Code along with Appendices A, B, C and D, as adopted by the International Codes Council.

*To view these documents please visit www.ICCsafe.org

Property Maintenance Code of the City of York as formulated on the basis of the International Property Maintenance Code.

Effective January 1, 2007