What is a building code?

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building bye laws

In order to achieve minimum standards of safety and welfare of residents of a building, the governing body defines a set of guidelines to regulate the construction activities termed as building codes.

A building code is a set of rules to regulate the construction activities across the country. The building code includes basic building requirements coupled with administrative regulations. As per definition, the building code is a set of local laws relating to how buildings should be designed or built, especially keeping in mind the safe and quality aspects of the final product.

In India, the National Building Code of India (NBC) was first published in 1970. The major provisions of the Indian Building Code include -

  • Structural safety of buildings
  • Accessibility for senior citizens and differently-abled citizens
  • Fire and life safety
  • Earthquake resistant design
  • Use of alternative building techniques
  • Environmentally compatible construction techniques such as the use of solar power, rainwater harvesting
  • Solid waste management

The main objective of framing building norms is to attain minimum standards of safety and general welfare and health of the inhabitants of a building. The code contains guidelines for the overall structure of a building including wall assemblies, size of rooms, foundations, floor plans, roof structures, staircase design and mechanical and electrical assemblies such as plumbing, drainage system, lighting, and fixtures standards.

Since its first notification, the building norms in India have been regularly revised to suit the time. The building code was first revised in 1983. In 1987, two more amendments were made. NBC was further amended in 2005.

In 2017, the Central Government tweaked the national building code once more to achieve the highest quality of construction. As per the revised building norms, builders are now liable for the safety of the developed structures. The code reads several clauses pertaining to the use of innovative building materials and technologies which would help the government meet its housing target of over 20 million affordable homes under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY). Besides making developers liable for construction quality, the revised building code specifies fire and life safety norms as well, especially for high rise residential buildings.

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