Building Codes

Building codes are enacted by local jurisdictions to ensure that new buildings are constructed to mitigate known hazards to occupants.

Building codes are a very helpful compendium of best practices learned around the world about various risks. When a building burns down there are lessons learned and building codes try to capture these lessons.

Local jurisdictions have local control over what they allow. But often they dont have the resources to create a complete building code from scratch, so they often borrow from other codes.

In both Canada and the US there is a system of National Building Codes which are used as a source for Provincial, State or Municipal codes. This means that most of the country uses very similar building codes that are sometime locally modified. For example Miami-Dade has gained a lot of local experience combatting hurricanes and accordingly they have created additional code rules for their jurisdiction. This expertise is accepted and other jurisdictions have decided to also adopt the building code extensions put forward in Miami-Dade with respect to coastal weather protection.

The national building codes get updated regularly every few years, incorporating any lessons learned since the last edition. In the US the International Code Council publishes the International Building Code which is a reference building code for many jurisdictions in the US and Canada.

Building codes are typically quite large documents filling several binders. They are written and organized in different ways. Some are organized around the size of building or the type of building. They are often broken down into sections that cover specific parts of the building. Glass and glazing are usually grouped into a single section, although it can be spread out across different building types. It all depends. You should start by figuring out what building code is being followed in your jurisdiction.

Generally the building code is enforced by being inspected by various public officials before the building can be granted an occupancy status. With respect to fire-rated glass enforcement it is the local building inspector or fire marshal who determines whether the building code has been followed correctly.

The inspector will look for proper fire rated labeling on the fire rated glass in a building. This is how the inspector knows what has been installed and can then verify that it matches what is required in the building code. You must make sure the fire rated glass you install is properly labeled and that you have installed it correctly under the building code and as per the manufacturers instructions. The inspector has the authority to deny occupancy until the problems are fixed. You do not want to be replacing your glass hours before your client wants to be opening the building. Get the right glass the first time.