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