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Building Codes and Standards in Construction

Here at SID, we know that it's important that you are proficient in today's building codes in our construction management program.

Five reasons you need to understand building codes:

Protection: Building codes protect you from a wide range of hazards – whether it is by implementing safe wiring, fire prevention, or stronger structural integrity. When a community has up-to-date building codes in place, they are more protected against these hazards.

They Work: In the study Building Codes Save, an analysis shows that, over a 20-year period, cities and counties with modern building codes have avoided at least $132 billion in losses from natural disasters. This is based on a comparison of jurisdictions without modern building codes. In addition, to the money saved, property damage is reduced. This means that immeasurable losses are also avoided, such as the stress of temporary relocation, lost income, and community disruption.

They are always improving and changing: You can trust that a building built to the latest codes is keeping up with the latest findings and advances in technology. Built on a solid foundation of decades of construction knowledge and experience, model building codes are updated every three years and incorporate new information such as results of post-disaster research. When a community adopts code updates, it involves a range of stakeholders who prioritize public health and safety with affordability in mind. In addition, there is an increased desire for sustainability and climate adaptation.

Level the Playing Field: Building codes set common, minimum design and construction requirements across communities that result in improved construction quality, consistent permitting, and strong code enforcement. When neighboring communities follow and enforce the same rules, it makes it easier for smaller communities to work together through mutual aid agreements to enforce the code.

Help the Community: Implementing building codes can save your community money in reduced insurance premiums, lower bond ratings, and can help when applying for federal grant funds. For example, FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance grant programs provide funding for activities that reduce disaster losses and protect life and property from disaster damage. If your community is looking to adopt or improve their building code, they can apply for funds to help implement building code changes.

There are required building codes and standards that must be included in any residential or commercial projects whether it is a new build or a remodel. Those standards are laid out through several international codebooks and a project manager must know how to include them in their project.


  • Hallways minimum width – 36"

  • Countertop height and bar height – 36" with countertop for residential – 42" for a bar

  • Standard stairs in a residential project will have a riser height of 7 ¾" and a tread depth of 10"

Residential stairs can be designed in any way that fits the project and a lot of custom stair projects are completed in residential design, they only have to meet the riser and tread depth standards. Means of egress – one of the most important parts of designing a commercial space, or residential family space. It is what must be considered when creating a circulation plan and space planning. Think about if there were an emergency and all occupants needed to escape the building quickly how hard would it be for them to reach the nearest exit. Project managers will need to reference the international fire code when managing the building's general requirements, emergency planning and preparedness, fire and smoke protection features, interior finish and furnishings, exits, and flammable finishes. Inclusive Design: Designing for Disabilities: Project managers will need to consider how to create a building or a space that is inclusive and can be used by all occupants. When building a commercial or multi-use space they will need to consider signage and how they can give directional cues for a multitude of people (deaf, children, or international visitors, etc). A project manager will also need to consider inclusive design when placing hallways and interior walls on a floor plan. Think about circulation for a large occupant load and possible wheelchair turn radius. Also, the acoustics and lighting can play a huge part in a project such as a hospital or a school. For example, ensuring that a space is not overwhelming or someone who is autistic, should be considering any and all people when working on a project and it is your job to make sure your final project is inclusive for everyone. As a project manager and specifically if you specialize in commercial construction you will work on a multitude of special use projects such as nursing homes, healthcare, daycare, etc. You will need to consider aspects of your project and design that you may not have otherwise thought about. Think about the transitions between your flooring materials and minimizing slips and falls. These types of projects will have a different underlayment between the finished flooring and the subfloor to help cushion falls and as the project manager it will be your job to specify and order the correct materials.

If you're ready to learn more about building codes, estimates, 3D design, project management, and the other skills you need to succeed in building trades, we're ready to teach you. Contact us for a tour of our facilities, and to learn more about our accelerated trade school program


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