What Building Codes Must be Followed When Building a New Home?

The Minnesota State Building Code is the minimum building standard for all of Minnesota, including cities, municipalities, and counties. While municipalities cannot enforce it unless it is adopted by a local ordinance, the State Building Code creates a level playing field for the construction industry by setting the construction standard for all buildings in the state. Virtually all residential construction must comply with comprehensive building codes and standards that are governed by local and state laws. To ensure compliance with these codes, law enforcement agencies must encourage the private sector's commitment to voluntarily comply with the code's standards, achieve adequate capacity, and commit internally to rigorous enforcement. Because of the cost and complexity of developing and maintaining such codes, state and local governments often adopt nationally recognized model codes, and often modify them to reflect local construction practices, climate, and geography.

The communities adopt the codes I of the International Council on Codes for this purpose. Housing and building codes are often comprehensive and authorize departments and agencies to take coercive action against threats to the collective health or well-being of a community. Housing codes establish minimum standards for housing conditions that all rental housing, new or existing, must meet to protect the health of residents. Some jurisdictions refer to them as property maintenance codes or sanitation codes, but their functions are the same. Building codes establish the rules for the design and construction of buildings.

The primary purpose of building codes is to protect the public from the health and safety risks posed by poorly constructed buildings. Building codes establish minimum standards for building characteristics, such as structural integrity (the supporting structure), mechanical integrity (including sanitation, water supply, lighting and ventilation), means of escape, fire prevention and control, and energy conservation. The two most adopted energy codes are the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and the ASHRAE Energy Standard for buildings, except low-rise residential buildings (ASHRAE 90). A recent example is the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, which sets national energy efficiency standards for certain residential appliances and expressly takes precedence over state or local regulations that require greater efficiency than federal standards (although the law establishes a specific exception for certain building codes designed to promote energy efficiency).In general, there is a presumption that federal laws do not prevail over building codes, since building codes are traditionally a matter of state and local laws. In essence, building codes reflect society's expectations about how the design and construction of buildings should protect the public.

Building codes focus on ensuring that a house or structure is built safely and meets minimum safety and habitability requirements. Once a building is built, landlords are generally not required to update the building as the code changes. Most building codes have provisions on acquired rights, so the code does not apply to existing buildings unless they are in the process of being renovated. Building codes generally include minimum building standards, building material requirements, fire and health restrictions, building access standards and compliance with the United States Disability Act, and minimum requirements for individuals or corporations performing the work.