The regulation of building construction is not a recent phenomenon. It can be traced through recorded history for over 4,000 years. This provides evidence that people have become increasingly aware of their ability to avoid the catastrophic consequences of building construction failures.
In early America, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson encouraged the development of building regulations to provide for minimum standards that would ensure health and safety. Today, most of the United States is covered by a network of modern building regulations ranging in coverage from fire and structural safety to health, security and conservation of energy.
Public safety is not the only by-product afforded by modern codes. Architects, engineers, contractors and others in the building community can take advantage of the latest technological advances accommodated in these coded with resultant savings to the consumer.
For codes to be effective, an understanding and cooperative relationship must exist between building officials and the groups that they serve: homeowners, developers, urban planners and designers, as well as other echelons of the construction industry. Codes must therefore be responsive to Government's need to protect the public. They must provide due process for all affected and they must keep pace with rapidly changing technology which gives birth to innovative ideas. The inability of communities individually to provide such a code process is understandable, but collectively these communities can work together to develop and maintain codes. This approach has given birth to the model code system.
During the early 1900's, model building codes were authored by the code enforcement officials of various communities with key assistance from all segments of the building industry. Model codes have now become the central regulatory basis for the administration of building regulatory programs in cities, counties and states throughout the United States. They simply represent a collective undertaking which shares the cost of code development and maintenance while ensuring uniformity of regulations so that the advantages of technology can be optimized.
Building safety code enforcement has historically been accomplished by defraying the costs of administration through a system of fees relating to a specific project- a system that is self supporting. These fees are generally less than one percent of the overall cost of the building project. Public protection is this obtained in a cost effective manner with the entire process, form plan review to field inspection, carried out in a professional manner. The system is so well developed that the true complexity of the process is obscure to many.