Internationally, code officials recognize the need for a modern, up-to-date building code addressing the design and installation of building systems through requirements emphasizing performance. The International Building Code®, in this 2015 edition, is designed to meet these needs through model code regulations that safeguard the public health and safety in all communities, large and small.

    This comprehensive building code establishes minimum regulations for building systems using prescriptive and performance-related provisions. It is founded on broad-based principles that make possible the use of new materials and new building designs. This 2015 edition is fully compatible with all of the International Codes® (I-Codes®) published by the International Code Council (ICC)®, including the International Energy Conservation Code®, International Existing Building Code®, International Fire Code®, International Fuel Gas Code®, International Green Construction Code®, International Mechanical Code®, ICC Performance Code®, International Plumbing Code®, International Private Sewage Disposal Code®, International Property Maintenance Code®, International Residential Code®, International Swimming Pool and Spa Code, International Wildland-Urban Interface Code® and International Zoning Code®.

    The International Building Code provisions provide many benefits, among which is the model code development process that offers an international forum for building professionals to discuss performance and prescriptive code requirements. This forum provides an excellent arena to debate proposed revisions. This model code also encourages international consistency in the application of provisions.


    The first edition of the International Building Code (2000) was the culmination of an effort initiated in 1997 by the ICC. This included five drafting subcommittees appointed by ICC and consisting of representatives of the three statutory members of the International Code Council at that time, including: Building Officials and Code Administrators International, Inc. (BOCA), International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO) and Southern Building Code Congress International (SBCCI). The intent was to draft a comprehensive set of regulations for building systems consistent with and inclusive of the scope of the existing model codes. Technical content of the latest model codes promulgated by BOCA, ICBO and SBCCI was utilized as the basis for the development, followed by public hearings in 1997, 1998 and 1999 to consider proposed changes. This 2015 edition presents the code as originally issued, with changes reflected in the 2003, 2006, 2009 and 2012 editions and further changes approved by the ICC Code Development Process through 2014. A new edition such as this is promulgated every 3 years.

    This code is founded on principles intended to establish provisions consistent with the scope of a building code that adequately protects public health, safety and welfare; provisions that do not unnecessarily increase construction costs; provisions that do not restrict the use of new materials, products or methods of construction; and provisions that do not give preferential treatment to particular types or classes of materials, products or methods of construction.


    The International Code Council maintains a copyright in all of its codes and standards. Maintaining copyright allows the ICC to fund its mission through sales of books, in both print and electronic formats. The International Building Code is designed for adoption and use by jurisdictions that recognize and acknowledge the ICC’s copyright in the code, and further acknowledge the substantial shared value of the public/private partnership for code development between jurisdictions and the ICC.

    The ICC also recognizes the need for jurisdictions to make laws available to the public. All ICC codes and ICC standards, along with the laws of many jurisdictions, are available for free in a nondownloadable form on the ICC’s website. Jurisdictions should contact the ICC at adoptions@iccsafe.org to learn how to adopt and distribute laws based on the International Building Code in a manner that provides necessary access, while maintaining the ICC’s copyright.


    The International Building Code is kept up to date through the review of proposed changes submitted by code enforcing officials, industry representatives, design professionals and other interested parties. Proposed changes are carefully considered through an open code development process in which all interested and affected parties may participate.

    The contents of this work are subject to change through both the code development cycles and the governmental body that enacts the code into law. For more information regarding the code development process, contact the Codes and Standards Development Department of the International Code Council.

    While the development procedure of the International Building Code ensures the highest degree of care, the ICC, its members and those participating in the development of this code do not accept any liability resulting from compliance or noncompliance with the provisions because the ICC does not have the power or authority to police or enforce compliance with the contents of this code. Only the governmental body that enacts the code into law has such authority.

    Code Development Committee Responsibilities(Letter Designations in Front of Section Numbers)

    In each code development cycle, code change proposals to this code are considered at the Code Development Hearings by 11 different code development committees. Four of these committees have primary responsibility for designated chapters and appendices as follows:

    IBC – Fire Safety
     Code Development Committee [BF]:Chapters 7, 8, 9, 14, 26
    IBC – General
     Code Development Committee [BG]:Chapters 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 12, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33,Appendices A, B, C, D, K
    IBC – Means of Egress
     Code Development Committee [BE]:Chapters 10, 11, Appendix E
    IBC – Structural
     Code Development Committee [BS]:Chapters 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25,Appendices F, G, H, I, J, L, M

    Code change proposals to sections of the code that are preceded by a bracketed letter designation, such as [A], will be considered by a committee other than the building code committee listed for the chapter or appendix above. For example, proposed code changes to Section [F] 307.1.1 will be considered by the International Fire Code Development Committee during the Committee Action Hearing in the 2016 (Group B) code development cycle.

    Another example is Section [BF] 1505.2. While code change proposals to Chapter 15 are primarily the responsibility of the IBC – Structural Code Development Committee, which considers code change proposals during the 2016 (Group B) code development cycle, Section 1505.2 is the responsibility of the IBC – Fire Safety Code Development Committee, which considers code change proposals during the 2015 (Group A) code development cycle.

    The bracketed letter designations for committees responsible for portions of this code are as follows:

    [A]=Administrative Code Development Committee;
    [BE]=IBC – Means of Egress Code Development Committee;
    [BF] =IBC – Fire Safety Code Development Committee;
    [BG] =IBC – General Code Development Committee;
    [BS]=IBC – Structural Code Development Committee;
    [E]=International Energy Conservation Code Development Committee (Commercial EnergyCommittee or Residential Energy Committee, as applicable);
    [EB]=International Existing Building Code Development Committee;
    [F]=International Fire Code Development Committee;
    [FG]=International Fuel Gas Code Development Committee;
    [M]=International Mechanical Code Development Committee; and
    [P]=International Plumbing Code Development Committee.

    For the development of the 2018 edition of the I-Codes, there will be three groups of code development committees and they will meet in separate years. Note that these are tentative groupings.

    Group A Codes (Heard in 2015, Code Change Proposals Deadline: January 12, 2015)Group B Codes (Heard in 2016, Code Change Proposals Deadline: January 11, 2016)Group C Codes (Heard in 2017, Code Change Proposals Deadline: January 11, 2017)
    International Building Code – Fire Safety (Chapters 7, 8, 9, 14, 26) – Means of Egress  (Chapters 10, 11, Appendix E) – General (Chapters 2-6, 12, 27-33,   Appendices A, B, C, D, K)Administrative Provisions (Chapter 1 of all codes except IRC and IECC, administrative updates to currently referenced standards, and designated definitions)International Green Construction Code
    International Fuel Gas CodeInternational Building Code – Structural  (Chapters 15-25, Appendices F, G,    H, I, J, L, M)
    International Existing Building CodeInternational Energy Conservation Code
    International Mechanical CodeInternational Fire Code
    International Plumbing CodeInternational Residential Code – IRC-Building (Chapters 110,  Appendices E, F, H, J, K, L, M, O, R,    S, T, U)
    International Private Sewage  Disposal CodeInternational Wildland‒Urban Interface  Code
    International Property Maintenance  Code
    International Residential Code – IRC - Mechanical (Chapters 1224) – IRC - Plumbing  (Chapters 2533, Appendices G, I, N, P)
    International Swimming Pool and Spa  Code
    International Zoning Code

    Note: Proposed changes to the ICC Performance Code will be heard by the code development committee noted in brackets [ ] in the text of the code.

    Code change proposals submitted for code sections that have a letter designation in front of them will be heard by the respective committee responsible for such code sections. Because different committees hold code development hearings in different years, proposals for this code will be heard by committees in both the 2015 (Group A) and the 2016 (Group B) code development cycles.

    For instance, every section of Chapter 16 is the responsibility of the IBC – Structural Committee, and, as noted in the preceding table, that committee will hold its committee action hearings in 2016 to consider code change proposals for the chapters for which it is responsible. Therefore any proposals received for Chapter 16 of this code will be assigned to the IBC – Structural Committee, which will consider code change proposals in 2016, during the Group B code change cycle.

    As another example, every section of Chapter 1 of this code is designated as the responsibility of the Administrative Code Development Committee, and that committee is part of the Group B portion of the hearings. This committee will hold its committee action hearings in 2016 to consider all code change proposals for Chapter 1 of this code and proposals for Chapter 1 of all I-Codes except the International Energy Conservation Code, International Residential Code and ICC Performance Code. Therefore, any proposals received for Chapter 1 of this code will be assigned to the Administrative Code Development Committee for consideration in 2016.

    It is very important that anyone submitting code change proposals understand which code development committee is responsible for the section of the code that is the subject of the code change proposal. For further information on the code development committee responsibilities, please visit the ICC website at www.iccsafe.org/scoping.

    Marginal Markings

    Solid vertical lines in the margins within the body of the code indicate a technical change from the requirements of the 2012 edition. Deletion indicators in the form of an arrow () are provided in the margin where an entire section, paragraph, exception or table has been deleted or an item in a list of items or a table has been deleted.

    A single asterisk [*] placed in the margin indicates that text or a table has been relocated within the code. A double asterisk [**] placed in the margin indicates that the text or table immediately following it has been relocated there from elsewhere in the code. The following table indicates such relocations in the 2015 edition of the International Building Code.

    903.3.8 through 903.3.8.5903.
    10061014.3, 1015, 1021
    10071015.2, 1021.3
    Table 2308.5.11Table 2304.6
    3006713.14.1 and 713.14.1.1

    Coordination between the International Building and Fire Codes

    Because the coordination of technical provisions is one of the benefits of adopting the ICC family of model codes, users will find the ICC codes to be a very flexible set of model documents. To accomplish this flexibility some technical provisions are duplicated in some of the model code documents. While the International Codes are provided as a comprehensive set of model codes for the built environment, documents are occasionally adopted as a stand-alone regulation. When one of the model documents is adopted as the basis of a stand-alone code, that code should provide a complete package of requirements with enforcement assigned to the entity for which the adoption is being made.

    The model codes can also be adopted as a family of complementary codes. When adopted together there should be no conflict of any of the technical provisions. When multiple model codes are adopted in a jurisdiction, it is important for the adopting authority to evaluate the provisions in each code document and determine how and by which agency(ies) they will be enforced. It is important, therefore, to understand that where technical provisions are duplicated in multiple model documents, the enforcement duties must be clearly assigned by the local adopting jurisdiction. ICC remains committed to providing state-of-the-art model code documents that, when adopted locally, will reduce the cost to government of code adoption and enforcement and protect the public health, safety and welfare.

    Italicized Terms

    Selected terms set forth in Chapter 2, Definitions, are italicized where they appear in code text (except those in Sections 1903 through 1905, where italics indicate provisions that differ from ACI 318). Such terms are not italicized where the definition set forth in Chapter 2 does not impart the intended meaning in the use of the term. The terms selected have definitions that the user should read carefully to facilitate better understanding of the code.


    The International Building Code® (IBC®) is a model code that provides minimum requirements to safeguard the public health, safety and general welfare of the occupants of new and existing buildings and structures. The IBC is fully compatible with the ICC family of codes, including: International Energy Conservation Code® (IECC®), International Existing Building Code® (IEBC®), International Fire Code® (IFC®), International Fuel Gas Code® (IFGC®), International Green Construction Code® (IgCC®), International Mechanical Code® (IMC®), ICC Performance Code® (ICCPC®), International Plumbing Code® (IPC®), International Private Sewage Disposal Code® (IPSDC®), International Property Maintenance Code® (IPMC®), International Residential Code® (IRC®), International Swimming Pool and Spa Code™ (ISPSC™), International Wildland-Urban Interface Code® (IWUIC®) and International Zoning Code® (IZC®).

    The IBC addresses structural strength, means of egress, sanitation, adequate lighting and ventilation, accessibility, energy conservation and life safety in regard to new and existing buildings, facilities and systems. The codes are promulgated on a 3-year cycle to allow for new construction methods and technologies to be incorporated into the codes. Alternative materials, designs and methods not specifically addressed in the code can be approved by the code official where the proposed materials, designs or methods comply with the intent of the provisions of the code (see Section 104.11).

    The IBC applies to all occupancies, including one- and two-family dwellings and townhouses that are not within the scope of the IRC. The IRC is referenced for coverage of detached one- and two-family dwellings and townhouses as defined in the exception to Section 101.2 and the definition for “Townhouse” in Chapter 2. The IRC can also be used for the construction of Live/Work units (as defined in Section 419) and small bed and breakfast-style hotels where there are five or fewer guest rooms and the hotel is owner occupied. The IBC applies to all types of buildings and structures unless exempted. Work exempted from permits is listed in Section 105.2.

    Arrangement and Format of the 2015 IBC

    Before applying the requirements of the IBC, it is beneficial to understand its arrangement and format. The IBC, like other codes published by ICC, is arranged and organized to follow sequential steps that generally occur during a plan review or inspection.

    1-2Administration and definitions
    3Use and occupancy classifications
    4, 31Special requirements for specific occupancies or elements
    5-6Height and area limitations based on type of construction
    7-9Fire resistance and protection requirements
    10Requirements for evacuation
    11Specific requirements to allow use and access to a building for persons with disabilities
    12-13, 27-30Building systems, such as lighting, HVAC, plumbing fixtures, elevators
    14-26Structural components—performance and stability
    32Encroachment outside of property lines
    33Safeguards during construction
    35Referenced standards
    Appendices A-MAppendices

    The IBC requirements for hazardous materials, fire-resistance-rated construction, interior finish, fire protection systems, means of egress, emergency and standby power, and temporary structures are directly correlated with the requirements of the IFC. The following chapters/sections of the IBC are correlated to the IFC:

    Sections 307, 414, 415Chapters 50-67Hazardous materials and Group H requirements
    Chapter 7Chapter 7Fire-resistance-rated construction (Fire and smoke protection features in the IFC)
    Chapter 8Chapter 8Interior finish, decorative materials and furnishings
    Chapter 9Chapter 9Fire protection systems
    Chapter 10Chapter 10Means of egress
    Chapter 27Section 604Standby and emergency power
    Section 3103Chapter 31Temporary structures

    The IBC requirements for smoke control systems, and smoke and fire dampers are directly correlated to the requirements of the IMC. IBC Chapter 28 is a reference to the IMC and the IFGC for chimneys, fireplaces and barbecues, and all aspects of mechanical systems. The following chapters/sections of the IBC are correlated with the IMC:

    Section 717Section 607Smoke and fire dampers
    Section 909Section 513Smoke control

    The IBC requirements for plumbing fixtures and toilet rooms are directly correlated to the requirements of the IPC. The following chapters/sections of the IBC are correlated with the IPC:

    Chapter 29Chapters 3 & 4Plumbing fixtures and facilities

    The following is a chapter-by-chapter synopsis of the scope and intent of the provisions of the International Building Code.

    Chapter 1 Scope and Administration. Chapter 1 establishes the limits of applicability of the code and describes how the code is to be applied and enforced. Chapter 1 is in two parts, Part 1—Scope and Application (Sections 101-102) and Part 2—Administration and Enforcement (Sections 103-116). Section 101 identifies which buildings and structures come under its purview and references other ICC codes as applicable. Standards and codes are scoped to the extent referenced (see Section 102.4).

    The building code is intended to be adopted as a legally enforceable document and it cannot be effective without adequate provisions for its administration and enforcement. The provisions of Chapter 1 establish the authority and duties of the code official appointed by the jurisdiction having authority and also establish the rights and privileges of the design professional, contractor and property owner.

    Chapter 2 Definitions. An alphabetical listing of all defined terms is located in Chapter 2. Defined terms that are pertinent to a specific chapter or section are also found in that chapter or section with a reference back to Chapter 2 for the definition. While a defined term may be listed in one chapter or another, the meaning is applicable throughout the code.

    Codes are technical documents and every word, term and punctuation mark can impact the meaning of the code text and the intended results. The code often uses terms that have a unique meaning in the code and the code meaning can differ substantially from the ordinarily understood meaning of the term as used outside of the code. Where understanding of a term’s definition is especially key to or necessary for understanding a particular code provision, the term is shown in italics wherever it appears in the code.

    The user of the code should be familiar with and consult this chapter because the definitions are essential to the correct interpretation of the code. Where a term is not defined, such terms shall have the ordinarily accepted meaning.

    Chapter 3 Use and Occupancy Classification. Chapter 3 provides for the classification of buildings, structures and parts thereof based on the purpose or purposes for which they are used. Section 302 identifies the groups into which all buildings, structures and parts thereof must be classified. Sections 303 through 312 identify the occupancy characteristics of each group classification. In some sections, specific group classifications having requirements in common are collectively organized such that one term applies to all. For example, Groups A-1, A-2, A-3, A-4 and A-5 are individual groups for assembly-type buildings. The general term “Group A,” however, includes each of these individual groups. Other groups include Business (B), Educational (E), Factory (F-1, F-2), High Hazard (H-1, H-2, H-3, H-4, H-5), Institutional (I-1, I-2, I-3, I-4), Mercantile (M), Residential (R-1, R-2, R-3, R-4), Storage (S-1, S-2) and Utility (U). In some occupancies, the smaller number means a higher hazard, but that is not always the case.

    Defining the use of the buildings is very important as it sets the tone for the remaining chapters of the code. Occupancy works with the height, area and construction type requirements in Chapters 5 and 6, as well as the special provisions in Chapter 4, to determine “equivalent risk,” or providing a reasonable level of protection or life safety for building occupants. The determination of equivalent risk involves three interdependent considerations: (1) the level of fire hazard associated with the specific occupancy of the facility; (2) the reduction of fire hazard by limiting the floor area and the height of the building based on the fuel load (combustible contents and burnable building components); and (3) the level of overall fire resistance provided by the type of construction used for the building. The greater the potential fire hazards indicated as a function of the group, the lesser the height and area allowances for a particular construction type.

    Occupancy classification also plays a key part in organizing and prescribing the appropriate protection measures. As such, threshold requirements for fire protection and means of egress systems are based on occupancy classification (see Chapters 9 and 10). Other sections of the code also contain requirements respective to the classification of building groups. For example, Section 706 specifies requirements for fire wall fire-resistance ratings that are tied to the occupancy classification of a building and Section 803.11 contains interior finish requirements that are dependent upon the occupancy classification. The use of the space, rather than the occupancy of the building, is utilized for determining occupant loading (Section 1004) and live loading (Section 1607).

    Over the useful life of a building, the activities in the building will evolve and change. Where the provisions of the code address uses differently, moving from one activity to another or from one level of activity to another is, by definition, a change of occupancy. The new occupancy must be in compliance with the applicable provisions.

    Chapter 4 Special Detailed Requirements Based On Use and Occupancy. Chapter 4 contains the requirements for protecting special uses and occupancies, which are supplemental to the remainder of the code. Chapter 4 contains provisions that may alter requirements found elsewhere in the code; however, the general requirements of the code still apply unless modified within the chapter. For example, the height and area limitations established in Chapter 5 apply to all special occupancies unless Chapter 4 contains height and area limitations. In this case, the limitations in Chapter 4 supersede those in other sections. An example of this is the height and area limitations for open parking garages given in Section 406.5.4, which supersede the limitations given in Sections 504 and 506.

    In some instances, it may not be necessary to apply the provisions of Chapter 4. For example, if a covered mall building complies with the provisions of the code for Group M, Section 402 does not apply; however, other sections that address a use, process or operation must be applied to that specific occupancy, such as stages and platforms, special amusement buildings and hazardous materials (Sections 410, 411 and 414).

    The chapter includes requirements for buildings and conditions that apply to one or more groups, such as high-rise buildings, underground buildings or atriums. Special uses may also imply specific occupancies and operations, such as for Group H, hazardous materials, application of flammable finishes, drying rooms, organic coatings and combustible storage or hydrogen fuel gas rooms, all of which are coordinated with the IFC. Unique consideration is taken for special use areas, such as covered mall buildings, motor-vehicle-related occupancies, special amusement buildings and aircraft-related occupancies. Special facilities within other occupancies are considered, such as stages and platforms, motion picture projection rooms, children’s play structures and storm shelters. Finally, in order that the overall package of protection features can be easily understood, unique considerations for specific occupancies are addressed: Groups I-1, I-2, I-3, R-1, R-2, R-3, R-4, ambulatory care facilities and live/work units.

    Chapter 5 General Building Heights and Areas. Chapter 5 contains the provisions that regulate the minimum type of construction for area limits and height limits based on the occupancy of the building. Height and area increases (including allowances for basements, mezzanines and equipment platforms) are permitted based on open frontage for fire department access, and the type of sprinkler protection provided and separation (Sections 503-506, 510). These thresholds are reduced for buildings over three stories in height in accordance with Sections 506.2.3 and 506.2.4. Provisions include the protection and/or separation of incidental uses (Table 509), accessory occupancies (Section 508.2) and mixed uses in the same building (Sections 506.2.2, 506.2.4, 508.3, 508.4 and 510). Unlimited area buildings are permitted in certain occupancies when they meet special provisions (Section 507).

    Tables 504.3, 504.4 and 506.2 are the keystones in setting thresholds for building size based on the building’s use and the materials with which it is constructed. If one then looks at Tables 504.3, 504.4 and 506.2, the relationship among group classification, allowable heights and areas and types of construction becomes apparent. Respective to each group classification, the greater the fire-resistance rating of structural elements, as represented by the type of construction, the greater the floor area and height allowances. The greater the potential fire hazards indicated as a function of the group, the lesser the height and area allowances for a particular construction type. In the 2015 edition, the table that once contained both height and area has been separated and these three new tables address the topics individually. In addition, the tables list criteria for buildings containing automatic sprinkler systems and those that do not.

    Chapter 6 Types of Construction. The interdependence of these fire safety considerations can be seen by first looking at Tables 601 and 602, which show the fire-resistance ratings of the principal structural elements comprising a building in relation to the five classifications for types of construction. Type I construction is the classification that generally requires the highest fire-resistance ratings for structural elements, whereas Type V construction, which is designated as a combustible type of construction, generally requires the least amount of fire-resistance-rated structural elements. The greater the potential fire hazards indicated as a function of the group, the lesser the height and area allowances for a particular construction type. Section 603 includes a list of combustible elements that can be part of a noncombustible building (Types I and II construction).

    Chapter 7 Fire and Smoke Protection Features. The provisions of Chapter 7 present the fundamental concepts of fire performance that all buildings are expected to achieve in some form. This chapter identifies the acceptable materials, techniques and methods by which proposed construction can be designed and evaluated against to determine a building’s ability to limit the impact of fire. The fire-resistance-rated construction requirements within Chapter 7 provide passive resistance to the spread and effects of fire. Types of separations addressed include fire walls, fire barriers, fire partitions, horizontal assemblies, smoke barriers and smoke partitions. A fire produces heat that can weaken structural components and smoke products that cause property damage and place occupants at risk. The requirements of Chapter 7 work in unison with height and area requirements (Chapter 5), active fire detection and suppression systems (Chapter 9) and occupant egress requirements (Chapter 10) to contain a fire should it occur while helping ensure occupants are able to safely exit.

    Chapter 8 Interior Finishes. This chapter contains the performance requirements for controlling fire growth within buildings by restricting interior finish and decorative materials. Past fire experience has shown that interior finish and decorative materials are key elements in the development and spread of fire. The provisions of Chapter 8 require materials used as interior finishes and decorations to meet certain flame-spread index or flame-propagation criteria based on the relative fire hazard associated with the occupancy. As smoke is also a hazard associated with fire, this chapter contains limits on the smoke development characteristics of interior finishes. The performance of the material is evaluated based on test standards.

    Chapter 9 Fire Protection Systems. Chapter 9 prescribes the minimum requirements for active systems of fire protection equipment to perform the following functions: detect a fire; alert the occupants or fire department of a fire emergency; and control smoke and control or extinguish the fire. Generally, the requirements are based on the occupancy, the height and the area of the building, because these are the factors that most affect fire-fighting capabilities and the relative hazard of a specific building or portion thereof. This chapter parallels and is substantially duplicated in Chapter 9 of the International Fire Code (IFC); however, the IFC Chapter 9 also contains periodic testing criteria that are not contained in the IBC. In addition, the special fire protection system requirements based on use and occupancy found in IBC Chapter 4 are duplicated in IFC Chapter 9 as a user convenience.

    Chapter 10 Means of Egress. The general criteria set forth in Chapter 10 regulating the design of the means of egress are established as the primary method for protection of people in buildings by allowing timely relocation or evacuation of building occupants. Both prescriptive and performance language is utilized in this chapter to provide for a basic approach in the determination of a safe exiting system for all occupancies. It addresses all portions of the egress system (i.e., exit access, exits and exit discharge) and includes design requirements as well as provisions regulating individual components. The requirements detail the size, arrangement, number and protection of means of egress components. Functional and operational characteristics also are specified for the components that will permit their safe use without special knowledge or effort. The means of egress protection requirements work in coordination with other sections of the code, such as protection of vertical openings (see Chapter 7), interior finish (see Chapter 8), fire suppression and detection systems (see Chapter 9) and numerous others, all having an impact on life safety. Chapter 10 of the IBC is duplicated in Chapter 10 of the IFC; however, the IFC contains one additional section on the means of egress system in existing buildings.

    Chapter 11 Accessibility. Chapter 11 contains provisions that set forth requirements for accessibility of buildings and their associated sites and facilities for people with physical disabilities. The fundamental philosophy of the code on the subject of accessibility is that everything is required to be accessible. This is reflected in the basic applicability requirement (see Section 1103.1). The code’s scoping requirements then address the conditions under which accessibility is not required in terms of exceptions to this general mandate. While the IBC contains scoping provisions for accessibility (e.g., what, where and how many), ICC/ANSI A117.1, Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities, is the referenced standard for the technical provisions (i.e., how).

    There are many accessibility issues that not only benefit people with disabilities, but also provide a tangible benefit to people without disabilities. This type of requirement can be set forth in the code as generally applicable without necessarily identifying it specifically as an accessibility-related issue. Such a requirement would then be considered as having been “mainstreamed.” For example, visible alarms are located in Chapter 9 and accessible means of egress and ramp requirements are addressed in Chapter 10.

    Accessibility criteria for existing buildings are addressed in the International Existing Building Code (IEBC).

    Appendix E is supplemental information included in the code to address accessibility for items in the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design that were not typically enforceable through the standard traditional building code enforcement approach system (e.g., beds, room signage). The International Residential Code (IRC) references Chapter 11 for accessibility provisions; therefore, this chapter may be applicable to housing covered under the IRC.

    Chapter 12 Interior Environment. Chapter 12 provides minimum standards for the interior environment of a building. The standards address the minimum sizes of spaces, minimum temperature levels, and minimum light and ventilation levels. The collection of requirements addresses limiting sound transmission through walls, ventilation of attic spaces and under floor spaces (crawl spaces). Finally, the chapter provides minimum standards for toilet and bathroom construction, including privacy shielding and standards for walls, partitions and floors to resist water intrusion and damage.

    Chapter 13 Energy Efficiency. The purpose of Chapter 13 is to provide minimum design requirements that will promote efficient utilization of energy in buildings. The requirements are directed toward the design of building envelopes with adequate thermal resistance and low air leakage, and toward the design and selection of mechanical, water heating, electrical and illumination systems that promote effective use of depletable energy resources. For the specifics of these criteria, Chapter 13 requires design and construction in compliance with the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).

    Chapter 14 Exterior Walls. This chapter addresses requirements for exterior walls of buildings. Minimum standards for wall covering materials, installation of wall coverings and the ability of the wall to provide weather protection are provided. This chapter also requires exterior walls that are close to lot lines, or that are bearing walls for certain types of construction, to comply with the minimum fire-resistance ratings specified in Chapters 6 and 7. The installation of each type of wall covering, be it wood, masonry, vinyl, metal composite material or an exterior insulation and finish system, is critical to its long-term performance in protecting the interior of the building from the elements and the spread of fire. Limitations on the use of combustible materials on exterior building elements such as balconies, eaves, decks and architectural trim are also addressed in this chapter.

    Chapter 15 Roof Assemblies and Rooftop Structures. Chapter 15 provides standards for both roof assemblies as well as structures that sit on top of the roof of buildings. The criteria address roof construction and covering which includes the weather-protective barrier at the roof and, in most circumstances, a fire-resistant barrier. The chapter is prescriptive in nature and is based on decades of experience with various traditional materials, but it also addresses newer products such as photovoltaic shingles. These prescriptive rules are very important for satisfying performance of one type of roof covering or another. Section 1510 addresses rooftop structures, including penthouses, tanks, towers and spires. Rooftop penthouses larger than prescribed in this chapter must be treated as a story under Chapter 5.

    Chapter 16 Structural Design. Chapter 16 prescribes minimum structural loading requirements for use in the design and construction of buildings and structural components. It includes minimum design loads, assignment of risk categories, as well as permitted design methodologies. Standards are provided for minimum design loads (live, dead, snow, wind, rain, flood, ice and earthquake as well as the required load combinations). The application of these loads and adherence to the serviceability criteria will enhance the protection of life and property. The chapter references and relies on many nationally recognized design standards. A key standard is the American Society of Civil Engineer’s Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures (ASCE 7). Structural design needs to address the conditions of the site and location. Therefore, maps are provided of rainfall, seismic, snow and wind criteria in different regions.

    Chapter 17 Special Inspections and Tests. Chapter 17 provides a variety of procedures and criteria for testing materials and assemblies, labeling materials and assemblies and special inspection of structural assemblies. This chapter expands on the inspections of Chapter 1 by requiring special inspection where indicated and, in some cases, structural observation. It also spells out additional responsibilities for the owner, contractor, design professionals and special inspectors. Proper assembly of structural components, proper quality of materials used and proper application of materials are essential to ensuring that a building, once constructed, complies with the structural and fire-resistance minimums of the code and the approved design. To determine this compliance often requires continuous or frequent inspection and testing. Chapter 17 establishes standards for special inspection, testing and reporting of the work to the building official.

    Chapter 18 Soils and Foundations. Chapter 18 provides criteria for geotechnical and structural considerations in the selection, design and installation of foundation systems to support the loads from the structure above. The chapter includes requirements for soils investigation and site preparation for receiving a foundation, including the allowed load-bearing values for soils and for protecting the foundation from water intrusion. Section 1808 addresses the basic requirements for all foundation types. Later sections address foundation requirements that are specific to shallow foundations and deep foundations. Due care must be exercised in the planning and design of foundation systems based on obtaining sufficient soils information, the use of accepted engineering procedures, experience and good technical judgment.

    Chapter 19 Concrete. This chapter provides minimum accepted practices for the design and construction of buildings and structural components using concrete—both plain and reinforced. Chapter 19 relies primarily on the reference to American Concrete Institute (ACI) 318, Building Code Requirements for Structural Concrete. The chapter also includes references to additional standards. Structural concrete must be designed and constructed to comply with this code and all listed standards. There are specific sections of the chapter addressing concrete slabs, anchorage to concrete and shotcrete. Because of the variable properties of material and numerous design and construction options available in the uses of concrete, due care and control throughout the construction process is necessary.

    Chapter 20 Aluminum. Chapter 20 contains standards for the use of aluminum in building construction. Only the structural applications of aluminum are addressed. The chapter does not address the use of aluminum in specialty products such as storefront or window framing or architectural hardware. The use of aluminum in heating, ventilating or air-conditioning systems is addressed in the International Mechanical Code (IMC). The chapter references national standards from the Aluminum Association for use of aluminum in building construction, AA ASM 35, Aluminum Sheet Metal Work in Building Construction, and AA ADM 1, Aluminum Design Manual. By utilizing the standards set forth, a proper application of this material can be obtained.

    Chapter 21 Masonry. This chapter provides comprehensive and practical requirements for masonry construction. The provisions of Chapter 21 require minimum accepted practices and the use of standards for the design and construction of masonry structures. The provisions address: material specifications and test methods; types of wall construction; criteria for engineered and empirical designs; and required details of construction, including the execution of construction. Masonry design methodologies including allowable stress design, strength design and empirical design are covered by provisions of the chapter. Also addressed are masonry fireplaces and chimneys, masonry heaters and glass unit masonry. Fire-resistant construction using masonry is also required to comply with Chapter 7. Masonry foundations are also subject to the requirements of Chapter 18.

    Chapter 22 Steel. Chapter 22 provides the requirements necessary for the design and construction of structural steel (including composite construction), cold-formed steel, steel joists, steel cable structures and steel storage racks. The chapter specifies appropriate design and construction standards for these types of structures. It also provides a road map of the applicable technical requirements for steel structures. Because steel is a noncombustible building material, it is commonly associated with Types I and II construction; however, it is permitted to be used in all types of construction. Chapter 22 requires that the design and use of steel materials be in accordance with the specifications and standards of the American Institute of Steel Construction, the American Iron and Steel Institute, the Steel Joist Institute and the American Society of Civil Engineers.

    Chapter 23 Wood. This chapter provides minimum requirements for the design of buildings and structures that use wood and wood-based products. The chapter is organized around three design methodologies: allowable stress design (ASD), load and resistance factor design (LRFD) and conventional light-frame construction. Included in the chapter are references to design and manufacturing standards for various wood and wood-based products; general construction requirements; design criteria for lateral force-resisting systems and specific requirements for the application of the three design methods. In general, only Type III, IV or V buildings may be constructed of wood.

    Chapter 24 Glass and Glazing. This chapter establishes regulations for glass and glazing used in buildings and structures that, when installed, are subjected to wind, snow and dead loads. Engineering and design requirements are included in the chapter. Additional structural requirements are found in Chapter 16. Another concern of this chapter is glass and glazing used in areas where it is likely to be impacted by the occupants. Section 2406 identifies hazardous locations where glazing installed must either be safety glazing or blocked to prevent human impact. Safety glazing must meet stringent standards and be appropriately marked or identified. Additional requirements are provided for glass and glazing in guards, handrails, elevator hoistways and elevator cars, as well as in athletic facilities.

    Chapter 25 Gypsum Board, Gypsum Panel Products and Plaster. Chapter 25 contains the provisions and referenced standards that regulate the design, construction and quality of gypsum board, gypsum panel products and plaster. It also addresses reinforced gypsum concrete. These represent the most common interior and exterior finish materials in the building industry. This chapter primarily addresses quality-control-related issues with regard to material specifications and installation requirements. Most products are manufactured under the control of industry standards. The building official or inspector primarily needs to verify that the appropriate product is used and properly installed for the intended use and location. While often simply used as wall and ceiling coverings, proper design and application are necessary to provide weather resistance and required fire protection for both structural and nonstructural building components.

    Chapter 26 Plastic. The use of plastics in building construction and components is addressed in Chapter 26. This chapter provides standards addressing foam plastic insulation, foam plastics used as interior finish and trim, and other plastic veneers used on the inside or outside of a building. Plastic siding is regulated by Chapter 14. Sections 2606 through 2611 address the use of light-transmitting plastics in various configurations such as walls, roof panels, skylights, signs and as glazing. Requirements for the use of fiber-reinforced polymers, fiberglass-reinforced polymers and reflective plastic core insulation are also contained in this chapter. Additionally, requirements specific to the use of wood-plastic composites and plastic lumber are contained in this chapter. Some plastics exhibit rapid flame spread and heavy smoke density characteristics when exposed to fire. Exposure to the heat generated by a fire can cause some plastics to deform, which can affect their performance. The requirements and limitations of this chapter are necessary to control the use of plastic and foam plastic products such that they do not compromise the safety of building occupants.

    Chapter 27 Electrical. Since electrical systems and components are an integral part of almost all structures, it is necessary for the code to address the installation of such systems. For this purpose, Chapter 27 references the National Electrical Code (NEC). In addition, Section 2702 addresses emergency and standby power requirements. Such systems must comply with the International Fire Code (IFC) and referenced standards. This section also provides references to the various code sections requiring emergency and standby power, such as high-rise buildings and buildings containing hazardous materials.

    Chapter 28 Mechanical Systems. Nearly all buildings will include mechanical systems. This chapter provides references to the International Mechanical Code (IMC) and the International Fuel Gas Code (IFGC) for the design and installation of mechanical systems. In addition, Chapter 21 of this code is referenced for masonry chimneys, fireplaces and barbecues.

    Chapter 29 Plumbing Systems. Chapter 29 regulates the minimum number of plumbing fixtures that must be provided for every type of building. This chapter also regulates the location of the required fixtures in various types of buildings. This section requires separate facilities for males and females except for certain types of small occupancies. The regulations in this chapter come directly from Chapters 3 and 4 of the International Plumbing Code (IPC).

    Chapter 30 Elevators and Conveying Systems. Chapter 30 provides standards for the installation of elevators into buildings. Referenced standards provide the requirements for the elevator system and mechanisms. Detailed standards are provided in the chapter for hoistway enclosures, machine rooms and requirements for sizing of elevators. Beginning in the 2015 edition, the elevator lobby requirements were moved from Chapter 7 to Chapter 30 to pull all the elevator-related construction requirements together. New provisions were added in the 2009 edition of the International Building Code for Fire Service Access Elevators required in high-rise buildings and for the optional choice of Occupant Evacuation Elevators (see Section 403).

    Chapter 31 Special Construction. Chapter 31 contains a collection of regulations for a variety of unique structures and architectural features. Pedestrian walkways and tunnels connecting two buildings are addressed in Section 3104. Membrane and air-supported structures are addressed by Section 3102. Safeguards for swimming pool safety are addressed by way of reference to the ISPSC in Section 3109. Standards for temporary structures, including permit requirements are provided in Section 3103. Structures as varied as awnings, marquees, signs, telecommunication and broadcast towers and automatic vehicular gates are also addressed (see Sections 3105 through 3108 and 3110).

    Chapter 32 Encroachments into the Public Right-of-way. Buildings and structures from time to time are designed to extend over a property line and into the public right-of-way. Local regulations outside of the building code usually set limits to such encroachments, and such regulations take precedence over the provisions of this chapter. Standards are provided for encroachments below grade for structural support, vaults and areaways. Encroachments above grade are divided into below 8 feet, 8 feet to 15 feet, and above 15 feet, because of headroom and vehicular height issues. This includes steps, columns, awnings, canopies, marquees, signs, windows and balconies. Similar architectural features above grade are also addressed. Pedestrian walkways must also comply with Chapter 31.

    Chapter 33 Safeguards During Construction. Chapter 33 provides safety requirements during construction and demolition of buildings and structures. These requirements are intended to protect the public from injury and adjoining property from damage. In addition the chapter provides for the progressive installation and operation of exit stairways and standpipe systems during construction.

    Chapter 34 Reserved. During the last code change cycle the membership voted to delete Chapter 34, Existing Structures, from the IBC and reference the IEBC. The provisions that were in Chapter 34 will appear in the International Existing Building Code (IEBC). Sections 3402 through 3411 are repeated as IEBC Chapter 4 and Section 3412 as Chapter 14.

    Chapter 35 Referenced Standards. The code contains numerous references to standards that are used to regulate materials and methods of construction. Chapter 35 contains a comprehensive list of all standards that are referenced in the code, including the appendices. The standards are part of the code to the extent of the reference to the standard (see Section 102.4). Compliance with the referenced standard is necessary for compliance with this code. By providing specifically adopted standards, the construction and installation requirements necessary for compliance with the code can be readily determined. The basis for code compliance is, therefore, established and available on an equal basis to the building code official, contractor, designer and owner.

    Chapter 35 is organized in a manner that makes it easy to locate specific standards. It lists all of the referenced standards, alphabetically, by acronym of the promulgating agency of the standard. Each agency’s standards are then listed in either alphabetical or numeric order based upon the standard identification. The list also contains the title of the standard; the edition (date) of the standard referenced; any addenda included as part of the ICC adoption; and the section or sections of this code that reference the standard.

    Appendices. Appendices are provided in the IBC to offer optional or supplemental criteria to the provisions in the main chapters of the code. Appendices provide additional information for administration of the Department of Building Safety as well as standards not typically administered by all building departments. Appendices have the same force and effect as the first 35 chapters of the IBC only when explicitly adopted by the jurisdiction.

    Appendix A Employee Qualifications. Effective administration and enforcement of the family of International Codes depends on the training and expertise of the personnel employed by the jurisdiction and his or her knowledge of the codes. Section 103 of the code establishes the Department of Building Safety and calls for the appointment of a building official and deputies such as plans examiners and inspectors. Appendix A provides standards for experience, training and certification for the building official and the other staff mentioned in Chapter 1.

    Appendix B Board of Appeals. Section 113 of Chapter 1 requires the establishment of a board of appeals to hear appeals regarding determinations made by the building official. Appendix B provides qualification standards for members of the board as well as operational procedures of such board.

    Appendix C Group U—Agricultural Buildings. Appendix C provides a more liberal set of standards for the construction of agricultural buildings, rather than strictly following the Utility building provision, reflective of their specific usage and limited occupant load. The provisions of the appendix, when adopted, allow reasonable heights and areas commensurate with the risk of agricultural buildings.

    Appendix D Fire Districts. Fire districts have been a tool used to limit conflagration hazards in areas of a city with intense and concentrated development. More frequently used under the model codes that preceded the International Building Code (IBC), the appendix is provided to allow jurisdictions to continue the designation and use of fire districts. Fire district standards restrict certain occupancies within the district, as well as setting higher minimum construction standards.

    Appendix E Supplementary Accessibility Requirements. The Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (U.S. Access Board) has revised and updated its accessibility guidelines for buildings and facilities covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA). Appendix E includes scoping requirements contained in the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design that are not in Chapter 11 and not otherwise mentioned or mainstreamed throughout the code. Items in the appendix address subjects not typically addressed in building codes (e.g., beds, room signage, transportation facilities).

    Appendix F Rodentproofing. The provisions of this appendix are minimum mechanical methods to prevent the entry of rodents into a building. These standards, when used in conjunction with cleanliness and maintenance programs, can significantly reduce the potential of rodents invading a building.

    Appendix G Flood-resistant Construction. Appendix G is intended to fulfill the flood-plain management and administrative requirements of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) that are not included in the code. Communities that adopt the International Building Code (IBC) and Appendix G will meet the minimum requirements of NFIP as set forth in Title 44 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

    Appendix H Signs. Appendix H gathers in one place the various code standards that regulate the construction and protection of outdoor signs. Whenever possible, the appendix provides standards in performance language, thus allowing the widest possible application.

    Appendix I Patio Covers. Appendix I provides standards applicable to the construction and use of patio covers. It is limited in application to patio covers accessory to dwelling units. Covers of patios and other outdoor areas associated with restaurants, mercantile buildings, offices, nursing homes or other nondwelling occupancies would be subject to standards in the main code and not this appendix.

    Appendix J Grading. Appendix J provides standards for the grading of properties. The appendix also provides standards for administration and enforcement of a grading program including permit and inspection requirements. Appendix J was originally developed in the 1960s and used for many years in jurisdictions throughout the western states. It is intended to provide consistent and uniform code requirements anywhere grading is considered an issue.

    Appendix K Administrative Provisions. Appendix K primarily provides administrative provisions for jurisdictions adopting and enforcing NFPA 70—the National Electrical Code (NEC). The provisions contained in this appendix are compatible with administrative and enforcement provisions contained in Chapter 1 of the IBC and the other International Codes. Annex H of NFPA 70 also contains administrative provisions for the NEC; however, some of its provisions are not compatible with IBC Chapter 1. Section K110 also contains technical provisions that are unique to this appendix and are in addition to technical standards of NFPA 70.

    Appendix L Earthquake Recording Instrumentation. The purpose of this appendix is to foster the collection of ground motion data, particularly from strong-motion earthquakes. When this ground motion data is synthesized, it may be useful in developing future improvements to the earthquake provisions of the code.

    Appendix M Tsunami-Generated Flood Hazard. Addressing a tsunami risk for all types of construction in a tsunami hazard zone through building code requirements would typically not be cost effective, making tsunami-resistant construction impractical at an individual building level. However, this appendix does allow the adoption and enforcement of requirements for tsunami hazard zones that regulate the presence of high risk or high hazard structures.


    Jurisdictions wishing to adopt the 2015 International Building Code as an enforceable regulation governing structures and premises should ensure that certain factual information is included in the adopting legislation at the time adoption is being considered by the appropriate governmental body. The following sample adoption legislation addresses several key elements, including the information required for insertion into the code text.



    ORDINANCE NO.________

    A[N] [ORDINANCE/STATUTE/REGULATION] of the [JURISDICTION] adopting the 2015 edition of the International Building Code, regulating and governing the conditions and maintenance of all property, buildings and structures; by providing the standards for supplied utilities and facilities and other physical things and conditions essential to ensure that structures are safe, sanitary and fit for occupation and use; and the condemnation of buildings and structures unfit for human occupancy and use and the demolition of such structures in the [JURISDICTION]; providing for the issuance of permits and collection of fees therefor; repealing [ORDINANCE/STATUTE/REGULATION] No. ______ of the [JURISDICTION] and all other ordinances or parts of laws in conflict therewith.

    The [GOVERNING BODY] of the [JURISDICTION] does ordain as follows:

    Section 1. That a certain document, three (3) copies of which are on file in the office of the [TITLE OF JURISDICTION’S KEEPER OF RECORDS] of [NAME OF JURISDICTION], being marked and designated as the International Building Code, 2015 edition, including Appendix Chapters [FILL IN THE APPENDIX CHAPTERS BEING ADOPTED] (see International Building Code Section 101.2.1, 2015 edition), as published by the International Code Council, be and is hereby adopted as the Building Code of the [JURISDICTION], in the State of [STATE NAME] for regulating and governing the conditions and maintenance of all property, buildings and structures; by providing the standards for supplied utilities and facilities and other physical things and conditions essential to ensure that structures are safe, sanitary and fit for occupation and use; and the condemnation of buildings and structures unfit for human occupancy and use and the demolition of such structures as herein provided; providing for the issuance of permits and collection of fees therefor; and each and all of the regulations, provisions, penalties, conditions and terms of said Building Code on file in the office of the [JURISDICTION] are hereby referred to, adopted, and made a part hereof, as if fully set out in this legislation, with the additions, insertions, deletions and changes, if any, prescribed in Section 2 of this ordinance.

    Section 2. The following sections are hereby revised:

      Section 101.1. Insert: [NAME OF JURISDICTION]

      Section 1612.3. Insert: [NAME OF JURISDICTION]

      Section 1612.3. Insert: [DATE OF ISSUANCE]

    Section 3. That [ORDINANCE/STATUTE/REGULATION] No. ______ of [JURISDICTION] entitled [FILL IN HERE THE COMPLETE TITLE OF THE LEGISLATION OR LAWS IN EFFECT AT THE PRESENT TIME SO THAT THEY WILL BE REPEALED BY DEFINITE MENTION] and all other ordinances or parts of laws in conflict herewith are hereby repealed.

    Section 4. That if any section, subsection, sentence, clause or phrase of this legislation is, for any reason, held to be unconstitutional, such decision shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of this ordinance. The [GOVERNING BODY] hereby declares that it would have passed this law, and each section, subsection, clause or phrase thereof, irrespective of the fact that any one or more sections, subsections, sentences, clauses and phrases be declared unconstitutional.

    Section 5. That nothing in this legislation or in the Building Code hereby adopted shall be construed to affect any suit or proceeding impending in any court, or any rights acquired, or liability incurred, or any cause or causes of action acquired or existing, under any act or ordinance hereby repealed as cited in Section 3 of this law; nor shall any just or legal right or remedy of any character be lost, impaired or affected by this legislation.

    Section 6. That the [JURISDICTION’S KEEPER OF RECORDS] is hereby ordered and directed to cause this legislation to be published. (An additional provision may be required to direct the number of times the legislation is to be published and to specify that it is to be in a newspaper in general circulation. Posting may also be required.)

    Section 7. That this law and the rules, regulations, provisions, requirements, orders and matters established and adopted hereby shall take effect and be in full force and effect [TIME PERIOD] from and after the date of its final passage and adoption.