Objectives of a Building Code

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The primary objectives of a building code are to make sure that new construction and renovated buildings provide a minimum level of safety, health, and welfare to the occupants and the public. These objectives are addressed in the codes by imposing minimum requirements that the designer has to satisfy or even exceed these minimums.

Building codes are only interested in issues associated by the performance of buildings. In other words, aspects such as building aesthetics, color, etc.. are outside the scope of the codes.

More Specifically, a building code aims at achieving the following purposes:

• Life safety

• Structural safety

• Fire safety

• Health and welfare


Although codes aims at achieving fire and structural safety, the term “life safety” is more general because life safety is not related only to fire or structural problems. For instance, a guardrail on a balcony might be a source of danger if someone fell over its top. Therefore, some specifications will be there related to its height and the space between its members.

Thus, the regulations related to the height and clear space of the previous guardrail are life safety regulations with no relationship to fire safety or structural safety. Similarly, the handrail on a staircase might cause life safety issues.


Structural safety is one of the primary objectives of a building code. Many chapters are there in building codes to give very detailed requirements related to the structural design of buildings.


Fire safety regulations are another very important category in codes. They relate to utilizing fire-resistant materials and construction for walls, floor slabs, roofs, beams, columns, and so on.

Fire safety rules also deals with the means of egress from the building (escape routes) if a fire occur such as the width and height of exit enclosure and doors, exit signs, fire and smoke alarms, fire suppression, etc.


The aforementioned objectives of building codes are the primary ones. Comes next is the human health and welfare issues. Therefore, we find codes gives provisions related to lighting, ventilation, sanitation, temperature, and noise control. Moreover, minimum dimensions of habitable rooms are stated and regulations for accessibility for individuals with disabilities are also included.


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