Know the Code

Un­der­stand cur­rent build­ing codes and how they may af­fect your cabin-build­ing process.

Cabin Living - - Editor’s View -

Codes are de­signed to en­sure health and safety, and they af­fect ev­ery build­ing where peo­ple will sleep and eat. Your builder or ar­chi­tect should have in-depth knowl­edge of codes that ap­ply in your re­gion. nce upon a time, cab­ins flew un­der the radar when it came to build­ing codes. Be­cause cab­ins weren’t con­sid­ered pri­mary res­i­dences, build­ing code of­fi­cials and in­spec­tors took a more ca­sual ap­proach to en­forc­ing codes. In ad­di­tion, many cab­ins were built in ru­ral ar­eas where pre­vail­ing codes might be nonex­is­tent. But times change, and cab­ins now, just like any other home, fall un­der the watchful eye of a build­ing-code au­thor­ity for sev­eral rea­sons.

Thirty years ago, there were half a dozen dif­fer­ent codes around the coun­try, with large chunks of un­reg­u­lated area where per­mits might only be re-

Pri­mary Ver­sus Sec­ondary

lia to fo quired for a well or sep­tic tank. To­day, re­gional codes have mostly been gob­bled up by a com­pre­hen­sive, na­tion­wide code called the In­ter­na­tional Res­i­den­tial Code (IRC). This merg­ing has con­sol­i­dated many fea­tures of ear­lier codes and added a num­ber of new re­quire­ments.

The dis­cus­sion of codes should not feel dis­cour­ag­ing: It’s still pos­si­ble to build your dream cabin pretty much where and how you like. But to do this you need to un­der­stand the build­ing­code play­ing field. You may ask, “What does this have to do with me? I’m just build­ing a lit­tle week-

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