Q: Why do building codes vary from location to location?
A: In general, building codes are developed by industry associations to provide minimum safety standards for a home’s occupants, the environment and the public at large. Building codes are adopted and enforced by local government officials and therefore vary based on local political issues, climate concerns, environmental regulations, etc. Most local building codes are derived from the International Code Council, with modifications based on local laws and regulations. However, building codes are “not intended to preclude the use of other construction methods or materials. All construction and materials must be approved by the authority having jurisdiction” (2009 International Residential Code). In other words, if the local building official determines that alternate materials, equipment or methods of construction meet or exceed the safety and soundness of what is prescribed by the building code, then the official may approve the alternate construction methods or materials.