Uniform Building Code Explained

The Uniform Building Code is a systematic body of rules that have been enacted to ensure that all buildings within a certain area maintain the safety and health standards to safeguard the lives of users and their neighbors from hazardous building.

Who Develops a Building Code?

A model code may be developed by the following authorities and organizations within an area or by a committee involving several of them:



Professional societies

Trade associations

Regional organizations ( i.e. BOCA -Building Officials and Code Administrators)

Types of Building Codes

Owing to the fact that building codes can be developed by different entities as detailed above, and that a specific area may enact varying building codes, we used to have many codes in operation. Then, the Uniform Building Code was developed. Such codes included:

City building codes

State building code

National building code

Standard building code

Owing to differences in such codes, it became difficult for the country to administrate the standards of buildings uniformly. It was particularly hard to ensure that all states followed safe principles in their construction in the United States. Prior to 1927, a single state could have up to 4 different codes in operation simultaneously.

The problem got even worse when it came to international building standards, since each nation has several codes in operation. It was consequent to these variances that the Uniform Building Code was developed.

What is the Uniform Building Code?

Commonly referred to as UBC, this code was inaugurated in 1927 as an initiative of the International Council of Building Officials. The main intent of establishing the code was to promote public safety through the enactment of a singular standardized set of requirements for all safe construction works in all states of the USA.

Up to 1997, updated editions of UBC were published after every 3 years. The 1997 edition became the final version of UBC.

What is in the Uniform Building Code?

The Uniform Building Code contains precise requirements which every building has to follow. Such regulations are usually referred to as minimum structural requirements. The specifications are sectored to feature:

Foundation requirements for all types of buildings

Roofing requirements

Plumbing requirements

Electrical fittings requirements

Sanitation requirements

Exit provisions

Who Uses the Uniform Building Code?

The following professionals and entities use the UBC in their daily operations.

Safety inspectors from local governments

Environmental scientists

Real estate developers

Building contractors and subcontractors

Manufacturers of building products

Insurance companies

Facility managers


History of Code

After 73 years in operation the UBC was then replaced by a new version of rules called the International Building Code (IBC). The IBC was published in 2000 by the International Code Council (ICC). Currently North American countries have adopted the IBC as the standard benchmark of administrating consistent standards in all safe constructions. It is however important to note that the new IBC was formed on the template of the UBC. Now, the UBC became the guiding principle not only for the IBC but also for many standardized building codes adopted by many nations of the world.