Tuesday, September 7, 2010

No Building Codes??

No building codes?

I have been asked about locations where there are no building codes in the US. If you read my profile, you probably know that I have more than passing knowledge about building codes, particularly the one that regulates residential construction.
The International Residential Code is a good code...if you feel that it is very important that your local government closely regulates building construction. If you are a proponent of natural "alternative" building methods, you may think that the building code does nothing but impede the achievement of your American dream. It would be my preference that regulators make full use of their obligations under the Alternates provisions in IRC Section R104.11. With better training and understanding of alternate construction methods, the code can be used in conjunction with strawbale, cob, container, earthship, cordwood, and a myriad of other unconventional methods. Unfortunately, the informed regulator is a rare commodity.
Still want a location without building codes? Here is your resource:
I am not necessarily an advocate of no building code whatsoever. I still believe that a more minimum standard applicable to any residential product can be produced with oversight more appropriate to areas with rural sensibilities. However, that document remains unwritten at this date. Still looking for a sponsor...hint, hint!
I also believe that a lot of the regulatory hurdles come from planning and zoning regulations, not building codes. These are designed to be exclusionary and are often insurmountable. The building code is not intended to be exclusionary (Section R104.11) and has versatility to keep it from being insurmountable (but may cost some money in the surmounting effort).
Finding property in an area without building codes does not give you license to build anything you want. More likely than not, you will find other regulations from other sources that will stop you dead in your tracks. More on that later.

1 comment:

Tom Meyers said...

Many of you have asked about Colorado. Here is a response to one of the many that have emailed me:

Here is a list of Colorado counties that currently have no adopted building code:
Kit Carson

Be aware that many of these counties have cities or towns located within them that do adopt codes. You will need to be in an unincorporated portion to avoid municipal jurisdiction oversight. Of all the counties, Delta will be the most receptive to alternative construction techniques and lifestyles. We own land in Hotchkiss that is a bit more conservative with libertarian leanings. Paonia is more liberal with less of the statist attitude that seems to be pervasive in that realm. Land in the unincorporated county surrounding these spaces is your best bet for freedom from regulatory oversight.

The other counties mentioned above on the eastern plains are mostly rural agriculture land. They are self sufficient, but pretty conservative. Might not be your cup of tea. The counties in the south are more free spirited.

Also consider New Mexico around the Taos area. Kingston is another good choice. Also Mimbres outside of Silver City. Lots of off grid and alternative construction in those places. The state has a comprehensive building code but is largely unenforced outside of the major cities. Lots of political shenanigans in the CID department (the one responsible for code enforcement) extending back to the Richardson days. That may be changing as the old machine is cleaned out. Ultimately that may lead to more uniform enforcement of their laws in the rural areas.

All this said, I still suggest considering locations where alternative construction HAS been approved under an adopted code. These locations have building officials that "get it". They will likely be very helpful and assist rather than hinder the process.
Best of luck!