When you start your metal building project, you will find many steps that need to be checked off before digging your foundation can even begin.
Obtaining a building permit is one of them. You have probably already obtained a zoning permit which says the you can build the type of building that you are planning and use it for the intentions that you’ve listed.
A building permit is separate from the zoning permit and covers different issues. Let’s take a look what building codes cover and some of the considerations around getting your building permit so you can get your project under way.
What’s in this guide?
Why Building Codes?
Building codes go all the way back to the Babylonian empire where the famous Code of Hammurabi decreed punishments for shoddy builders—think possible death sentence.
Fortunately, punishments for faulty construction are not so severe today. Today, municipalities adopt building standards into law and enforce them for nearly every structure before they are even built.
Building codes state the minimum requirements to create safe buildings. Meeting these requirements help prevent death, injury, and property loss in the event of a natural disaster.
They also as enable access for disabled persons and help maintain healthly indoor environments. Codes cover every detail from structural design to stair tread width to electrical systems. Building professionals spend much of their time ensuring that these requirements are met.
Building codes are large and the details can change every year. So, nearly every location requires a professional to formally approve (stamp) a design to make sure your building meets code.
If your building design does not meet code, the code official will reject your application. Most metal building companies that provide structural parts or kits have design professionals on staff. Their services are usually included in the price of the building.
The International Code Council (ICC) Building Code
Until about 25 years ago, building codes varied by region and multiple standards existed. In the US, the three main codes were the National Building Code (NBC), the Standard Building Code (SBC), and the Uniform Building Code (UBC).
Many parts of these codes were similar. However, engineers doing business in more than one location were forced to apply different requirements to their structures.
To unify the codes and simplify the design process, the federal government established the ICC. The ICC created the International Building Code (IBC).
Most of the United States adopted the IBC. Individual states and cities can still add their own more stringent regulations on top of the IBC—like hurricane design loads in Florida or earthquake loads in California. But, the basics are the same everywhere.
The ICC constantly works to improve the IBC, putting out new editions every few years. Especially after large natural disasters like hurricane Katrina, the ICC will make major changes.
These changes are usually requested by insurance companies. Some insurance companies offer discounts for buildings that meet certain standards beyond the code requirements. Contact your agent for details.
Building Code Requirements
As mentioned, building codes cover a great many details, but the structural engineer designing your metal building is concerned with just a few that affect the basic structure itself: the foundation, floors, roof, and walls.
Engineers consider forces on the structure like wind, snow, people and animals, heavy equipment, and earthquakes. The impact and severity of each of these varies by location, surroundings (like forests or tall buildings), and individual building design.
For instance, a building in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado will have a much higher snow loading than the same house in Mississippi on the coast. The Mississippi house will have to consider hurricane winds that the Colorado house will not.
The engineer will calculate these loads for your specific location and apply them to your building’s design. This determines how many and how large the beams and columns must be.
When you order a metal building, the company will ask you for your location so that they can apply the proper loads to the building you choose.
Special Considerations for Metal Buildings
Metal buildings must meet all the same requirements as buildings made out of any other material. But there are two areas that are of particular importance to steel buildings: 1) the specifications for the steel itself and 2) climate control.
Metal buildings must be constructed using steel that meets or surpasses the minimum stated in the code. Because these are legal require