Everything you need to know about US building regs

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Whether you’re soon to be moving into a new house or you’re running out of storage space in your current home, it pays to know what changes you can and can’t make to both the inside and outside of your property. US building regulations, or building codes as they’re more commonly known, differ from state to state, so what rules apply to one part of the country might not apply to the other. But for now, here’s a general overview of everything you need to know about US building regs.

What are building codes?

Building codes are regulations set out by each individual state or city, which must be followed when making any adaptations to either the interior of your home, or your wider area of your property. These can include – but are not limited to – dwelling codes, plumbing codes, electrical codes, structural codes, safety codes, energy codes, accessibility codes and elevator codes.

How do I know what the specific building codes for my state are?

There are a number of different resources online that detail each state’s specific building codes. But for the most accurate and up-to-date information, it’s best to pop into your city’s municipal office and request the latest set of codes direct from them.

What kind of additional storage can I add to my property?

With the right permission, it’s possible to build additional structures such as a Quonset Hut™ metal shed for extra storage, a steel building to securely house items such as luxury vehicles, or a dedicated workshop space where you can carry out your favorite hobbies in peace and comfort.

Do I need a building permit? And, if so, how do I apply for one?

In order to make sure your planned works comply with the minimum standards set out in your local building codes, it’s best to obtain prior authorization before getting started. In general, minor repair work to your property and decorating doesn’t require a permit. Also, in many cases, work to install smaller buildings such as sheds doesn’t always need a permit, however it’s still best to check with your local building departments. Larger-scale construction work will always need a permit, but it’s usually down to the contractor to arrange this with the municipality for you, submitting all detailed plans and calculations to them.

How can I make a complaint about a property breaking the regulations?

If you believe that you’ve identified a potential violation of the building codes in your neighborhood and you’d like to make a complaint, then contact your nearest municipal office. Most will have a dedicated phone line or email address for you to reach them on.

In order for them to be able to investigate, they’ll need as much detail as possible, such as the address of the property (or an accurate description of where to find it), where abouts on the property the violation is, what the violation is and how long it’s been there for.

What happens if someone makes a complaint against me?

If someone believes you’re violating local building codes and makes a complaint against you, you’ll be contacted by the municipality. They’ll potentially want to send an inspector around to investigate and they’ll tell you whether you have a fine or penalty to pay. You’ll be told what you need to do to correct the issue and how long you have to do so. They’ll also discuss with you whether or not you have the right to appeal the complaint or request a review.

Hopefully now you’re a little more informed about what alterations can and can’t be made around your home. But, for anything else you’re unsure of, be sure to check your state-specific building codes.


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