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Codes are standards or procedures devised by private organizations that are adopted into law by state or local governments. Building codes standardize practices to ensure structures are physically safe and structurally sound. They provide predictable, consistent minimum standards for the building industry to follow and state and local government to enforce.
A code is not enforceable unless adopted by a state or local government, meaning several areas in the U.S., particularly rural areas, are not covered by a code. However, even in unincorporated rural areas, codes may be required by a mortgage company or the insurers of the building.
Codes have been developed for residential, property maintenance, fire, electrical, plumbing, for building foundations and structure, among others. In addition, codes are continuously revised, meaning the standards for a code produced in 2000 may or may not be found in the revised code of 2010.
Governments may adopt certain codes (such as fire or plumbing) but not others (such as electrical), or they may adopt the residential code of 2000 but not the revised code of 2010. A government must identify the exact code and version (year) for their jurisdiction. A government may design their own code as well.
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