Building codes provide the minimum requirements for safe design and construction. In doing so, they sometimes, out of necessity, confine and restrain the creativity of designers and builders. For this reason, it is most important--and fortunate--that in the United States designers, engineers, code enforcement officials, industry organizations and government bodies all have input in writing building codes. Building codes are not dictated by a government agency. They are written by private, nonprofit model code organizations. There are three major model building codes in the United States, each dominant in a different part of the country. "Standard Building Code" is written by The Southern Building Code Congress (SBCC). "Basic Building Code" is written by The Building Officials and Code Administrators (BOCA). "Uniform Building Code" is written by The International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO). A federation of these three model code organizations, the Council of American Building Officials (CABO) strives for uniformity between the model codes.
Model codes become law only after they have been enacted by state and municipal legislatures, and even then the legislature does not have to adopt an entire code.
THE CODE CHANGE PROCESS
Each of the model code organizations conducts at least two public hearings a year. At the first hearing, a committee made up mostly of building officials hears testimony and receives substantiating evidence on published code change proposals. Each code change proposal receives one of four recommendations from this code changes committee: 1) recommendation for approval, 2) recommendation for approval with revisions, 3) recommendation for disapproval, or 4) recommendation for further study. Committee recommendations and challenges opposing these recommendations are considered and acted on by all voting members at the annual business meeting.