The International Building Code (2015)

International Building Code 2015 front page and logo

The International Building Code (2015)

The International Building Code (2015): A Short Overview


Most building codes in the United States are based on a model building code, issued and maintained by the International Code Council (ICC). Every three years, the ICC publishes a new version of the International Building Code (IBC). The latest version of the IBC came out in 2015. Next year the ICC will publish the International Building Code 2018. Thousands of professionals across the US in local and state governments or the AEC industry work with the IBC on a daily basis. That is why we wanted to briefly discuss the International Building Code and its 2015 version.


Acquiring a copy of the International Building Code 2015


Before we go more into what the IBC 2015 entails, let’s first look at how you can acquire a copy. There are multiple ways of accessing this model code. If you want to take a quick look at the 2015 version, you can simply go to the ICC’s website. They have a limited copy that you can use as a reference or for research purposes. However, if you’re looking to own a copy of the IBC, you will have to purchase the document as a PDF download (around $140 or $100 for members) or subscribe to the ICC’s online service (from $104 or $80 for members for 6 months), both of which you can do here.


If you were hoping to get a free version of this model code, I’m afraid I’ll have to disappoint you. In contrast to popular belief, these model codes are copyrighted. This means that while free PDF versions of the IBC 2015 probably exist somewhere on the internet – they are not available from a legitimate source. Interestingly, there’s quite a bit of controversy surrounding this subject; some people think these codes should be made publicly available, particularly once they are adopted into law, but that will be another article’s topic. For now, let’s talk a bit more about the use of the IBC.


What is the International Building Code?


In the introduction to this article, I briefly outlined the International Building Code. However, you might still not grasp the entire concept. The International Building Code is a model code, used mostly in the United States, but also in certain other countries (such as Colombia, Saudi Arabia).


The model in model code means that this code serves as a model for (local) governments to use when drafting their own building code. In other words, hundreds of states, counties, cities and other (governmental) bodies have created their own ‘version’ of the IBC. In practice, this means that local governments create additions and make changes to a model code before it is adopted as a law.


Finding Your Local Version of the International Building Code


The front page of the Florida Building Code (2014)

Of course, this does not mean that every body responsible for building codes in their locality,

makes use of the 2015 version of the IBC. For instance, the current Florida Codes are based on the 2012 version of the ‘I-Codes’ (which include not only the IBC, but also for instance the International Plumbing Code, International Mechanical Code, etc.). I take Florida as an example, because GoFetchCode allows you to search and find answers in the Florida Building Code (among others) – if you’re interested, take a look at our plans here.


So what does this all mean for you? Well, if you want to make changes to your home or start a construction business, first clarify which building code(s) apply to your project. Take a look at the ICC’s map of adopted codes and perform a Google search. Most likely, this will lead you to the right document. But if you just need to see the IBC 2015, take a look at the sources we mentioned above or purchase the PDF. In the mean time, we’re eagerly waiting to see what the International Building Code 2018 will bring us. The latest version of the IBC should be released in September this year. We’ll be sure to write about the new Code and what makes it new by then, so we’ll keep you posted!


Do you have any questions pertaining the International Building Code 2015, or model codes in general? Or do you want to mention another good source for the ICC’s codes? Leave a comment below!


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