Building codes are laws that set minimum requirements for the design and construction of buildings, historically focused on life-safety. Building codes define what your building should withstand from a variety of external forces like wind, rain, hail and wildfire, but also help safeguard people from other internal hazards such as fire and electrical malfunctions.
Building codes are developed through a consensus process administered by the International Code Council (ICC), which develops, among other codes, the International Residential Code (IRC), International Building Code (IBC), and International Wildland Urban Interface Code (IWUI Code). IBHS has been deeply engaged in this process for decades—our research and insights have contributed to significant code advancements since 2000.
Modern building codes, when adopted and enforced, work!
They save lives, reduce property damage, reduce disruption in our lives, and strengthen the resiliency of our communities. IBHS strongly supports:
- Statewide adoption of building codes
- Local enforcement of the codes
- Training and licensing of building officials, builders, and contractors
Lawmakers and government officials can adopt or tailor the code to their state, county or city’s needs. No new state has adopted a building code since 2008. In the absence of statewide codes, local jurisdictions must try to fill the gap, but they do not always have the resources to succeed. IBHS research can affect a better outcome that leads to a more resilient tomorrow.
WIND AND WIND-DRIVEN RAIN
- Rating the States evaluates the 18 states along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, all vulnerable to catastrophic hurricanes, based on building code adoption, enforcement, and contractor licensing.
- Survey of Coastal Texas Building Codes Executive Summary surveyed this vulnerable region of Texas with no building code protection to understand building code adoption and enforcement at the local jurisdiction level.
- IBHS & CoreLogic Building Codes and Mortgage Delinquency Study demonstrates the financial value of building codes to individuals and the financial industry. Modern building codes reduce the expected spike in mortgage delinquency rates following hurricanes by 50 percent.
- FORTIFIED is a beyond-code construction method backed by decades of research, that a roofing contractor or builder can use to further protect a home, multifamily or commercial structure against severe weather. Once a home or building has been built or retrofitted to this standard, a certificate is issued that can be distributed to their insurer.
- The beyond-code Coastal Construction Code Supplement and Inland Construction Code Supplement, developed by IBHS and Smart Home America, bridge the gap between existing I Codes and the IBHS FORTIFIED technical standard.
- Construction Costs for a Wildfire-resistant Home 2022. This report compares the costs for constructing three different versions of a wildfire-resistant home in California.
- Building a Wildfire-Resistant Home: Codes and Costs – Cost Roughly Same as a Typical Home. Analysis: Expense Should Not Be a Barrier to Constructing Safer Homes. Learn about codes and costs. (2018 Headwaters Research Report)
- Wildfire Prepared Home is a beyond-code, research-based mitigation and designation program designed for homeowners to meaningfully reduce wildfire risk to protect their home. Once a home has been built or retrofitted to this standard, a certificate is issued that can be distributed to their insurer.
- WUI Model Ordinance provides a model ordinance addressing construction and defensible space requirements with three levels of increasing resilience to wildfire.
- IBHS, ISO & VERISK Ice Dam & Building Codes Study helps to determine if you’re protected.
- FEMA- Building Codes Toolkit for Homeowners and Occupants Help homeowners learn about building codes and how they can make a home more resilient against natural hazards.
- FEMA- Nationwide Building Code Adoption Tracking Tracks current building code adoption status for state, local, tribal and territorial governments (SLTTs).
- FLASH- Inspect to Protect Find the local building codes adopted in your area.
- IBHS Code Development Activities See our contributions to updating building codes based on our research.
- IBHS Building Codes & Standards White Paper lays out the history of the modern code era, and the importance of building codes across different perils. There is an advancement in resilience but continued resistance to adoption and enforcement.