The International Building Code (IBC) either is in use or adopted in all 50 states of the United States of America, as well as the District of Columbia, Guam, Northern Marianas Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. However, as it is the International Building Code, and part of a series of International Codes (“I-Codes”), it is used in multiple locations worldwide, including the 15 countries of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM), Jamaica, and Georgia. Furthermore, the IBC has served as the basis for legislative building codes in Mexico, Abu Dhabi, and Haiti, among other places.
The International Code Council (ICC) promulgates a new International Building Code every 3 years through the ICC Code Development Process. As such, the current version of the IBC is the 2018 edition, also known as ICC IBC-2018.
Developed through the review of proposed changes submitted by code enforcement officials, industry representatives, design professionals, and other interested parties, the 2018 International Building Code, just as its mass of predecessors, establishes minimum guidelines for building systems that make possible the use of new materials and new building designs. This is carried out in a manner that provides a reasonable level of safety, public health, and general welfare through prescriptive and performance related guidelines.
In general, the IBC is focused on means of egress facilities, stability, sanitation, adequate light and ventilation, energy conservation, and safety to life and property from fire, explosion, and other hazards. These topics are addressed throughout the 35 chapters of the expansive ICC IBC-2018 document, which each cover a separate topic like Types of Construction (Chapter 6) and Steel (Chapter 22), and Annexes A-N.
While the International Building Code (ICC IBC-2018) serves as the basis for laws and regulations in communities across the United States and in other countries, it is used in a variety of nonregulatory settings, including voluntary compliance programs, the insurance industry, certification of individuals and buildings, U.S. federal agencies, facilities management, best practices benchmarks, and reference works.
ICC IBC-2018 is a hefty document, containing a plenitude of sections that together comprise over 750 pages. It has undergone numerous changes, including but not limited to:
- Accessory storage spaces of any size are now permitted to be classified as part of the occupancy to which they are accessory.
- New code sections have been introduced addressing medical gas systems and higher education laboratories.
- Use of fire walls to create separate buildings is now limited to only the determination of permissible types of construction based on allowable building area and height.
- Where an elevator hoistway door opens into a fire-resistance-rated corridor, the opening should be protected in a manner to address smoke intrusion into the hoistway.
- The occupant load factor for business uses has been revised to one occupant per 150 square feet.
- Live loads on decks and balconies increase the deck live load to one and one-half times the live load of the area served.
- The minimum lateral load that fire walls are required to resist is five pounds per square foot.
- Wind speed maps updated, including maps for the state of Hawaii.
ICC IBC-2018 does not apply to the repair, alteration, change of occupancy, addition, and relocation of existing buildings, as this is instead the focus of ICC IEBC-2018: 2018 International Existing Building Code. In fact, there are numerous “I-Codes” published by the International Code Council, all of which are fully compatible with one another. These include: