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Construction Codes in California

There are several construction codes followed in California. It is required that strict inspections of documents containing detailed information take place. California’s building codes are published by the following three entities:

 

  • International Code Council (ICC) publishes Parts 1, 2 (includes 8 and 10), 2.5, 6, 9, 11 and 12 of Title 24, the Administrative, Building with Historical and Existing Buildings, Residential, Fire, Green, Energy, and Referenced Standards Codes.
  • International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) publishes Parts 4 and 5 of Title 24, the California Mechanical and Plumbing Codes.
  • BNi Building News publishes Part 3 of Title 24, the California Electrical Code.

 

California has adopted statewide, mandatory codes based on ICC's Uniform codes. Local jurisdictions may only amend the California Building Code to make it more stringent because of unique local climatic, geological or topographical conditions. All local amendments must be filed with the California Building Standards Commission (CBSC). The Building Codes are as follows:

 

Code Type Code Model
Building/Dwelling Code California Building Code 2010 (IBC 2009)
Structural Code California Building Code 2010 (IBC 2009)
Plumbing Code California Plumbing Code 2010 (UPC 2009)
Mechanical Code California Mechanical Code 2010 (UMC 2009)
Electrical Code California Electrical Code 2010 (NEC 2008)
Fire/Life Safety Code California Fire Code 2010 (IFC 2009)
Accessibility Code California Building Code 2010 (Title 24, Part 2)
Energy Code California Energy Code 2010 (Title 24, Part 6)
Elevator Code California Elevator Safety Construction Code 2010 (California Code of Regulations, Title 8)

 

California's building codes (California Code of Regulations, Title 24) are published on a triennial basis. The CBSC is responsible for the administration and implementation of each code cycle, which includes the proposal, review and adoption processes. Supplements and errata are issued throughout the cycle. California Code of Regulations (CCR), Title 24, is a collection of three types of building criteria from three different origins:

 

  • Building standards that have been accepted by state agencies without change from building standards contained in national model codes
  • Building standards that have been adopted and adapted from the national model code standards to meet California conditions
  • Building standards, authorized by the California legislature, that compose wide additions not covered by the model codes that have been adopted to address particular California concerns

 

Notwithstanding, the national model code standards implemented into Title 24 apply to all occupancies in California except for modifications adopted by state agencies and local governing bodies.

Construction Codes in California

After the approval of the construction plans and documents and the appropriate permits have been issued, work may begin. At specific stages of construction, the permit applicant or the contractor should call for building inspection. It is essential to obtain approval before construction of the next phase of the project. The following are examples of types of required inspections:

 

  • A foundation inspection, after excavations for footings or piers and grade beam are done, i.e., essential reinforcing steel is in place. Forms shall be in place along with any bolts, anchors or straps that are required
  • An under-slab inspection after all piping, equipment, conduit, etc. is installed, but before any concrete is placed
  • An additional slab inspection will be required for any reinforcing steel, base fill material, required bolts, anchors or straps in place and ready for concrete
  • For a raised wood floor system, an under floor inspection of framing, ducts, piping, conduit, equipment, etc. is required
  • An additional inspection of required thermal insulation is needed before installing sub-floor sheathing. A floor diaphragm nailing inspection may also be needed before building walls
  • A roof sheathing and shear wall or braced wall sheathing inspection prior to covering or concealment
  • A sketchy frame inspection after all framing, bracing and fire blocking are in place, including weather barrier on roof and walls and all plumbing, electrical and mechanical inspections are roughed in and ready for inspection and/or water/air testing
  • A wall, ceiling or roof, ceiling thermal insulation inspection comprising of sealing of gaps and holes. Reference the California Energy Commission and T-24 energy report
  • A lath and/or gypsum board inspection after all lathing and gypsum board is in place, but before any plaster is applied (stucco requires 3 inspections)
  • A final inspection after all the works permitted has been accomplished

 

If one is not sure of the inspection requirements of your project, refer to the back of the permit card and/or contact your inspector. The inspection card must be posted at the job site until the project is completed and has passed the final inspection.

 

In addition to the inspection by City staff, inspections by other professionals may be required. These additional inspections are noted on approved plans. For example, some new structures require an inspection by a soils engineer prior to placement of concrete in the foundation. Also, ongoing field observation by the engineer of record, or special inspection firm, for the project is required for some residential construction and for non-residential construction typically.

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