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  #1  
Old 06/06/10, 05:06 PM
 
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states with no building codes ...

seems to be a common question, and just stumbled across the following info:

Quote:
http://earthbagbuilding.wordpress.co...r-not-to-code/

I scanned through a new e-book titled “No Building Codes: A Guide to States with No Building Codes”, written by Terry Herb, to see what he has to say. Most states do have mandatory building codes, but there are still 15 states where the existence of codes is a matter of local jurisdiction. Often it is the larger cities that opt for control of building practice, while the the more rural areas are freer. This is true in Alabama, Arkansas, Hawaii, Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

Some states have just a few counties that have yet to establish code requirements. In Arizona there is only one such county (Greenlee); in California there are three (Mendocino, Humbolt, and Nevada) that have adopted the liberal “Limited Density Rural Dwellings” program; Colorado has 15 open counties (including Saguache county where I live); Iowa has eight free counties; Mississippi is mostly free, except for coastal areas where wind and flood codes are enforced.

Special cases are Tennessee, which is now in transition from having no codes to having mandatory control, and Texas, which does have state codes, but enforcement seems to be very lax. Of course the situation is always changing, so it behooves anyone planning to move to a code-free region to find out specifically what the situation is there.

The book that provided this information contains a wealth of other related advise and data that is well worth the price of the book, and since it is an e-book it can easily be kept up to date.
following the links, looks like the ebook costs $20. haven't read the book, but the summary info above should give you a running start at which states to begin thinking about, if that is something you're interested in.

--sgl
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  #2  
Old 06/06/10, 05:39 PM
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Yes...When we moved here I asked about codes and they looked at my like "huh?" One more reason why we like it here

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  #3  
Old 06/06/10, 05:56 PM
 
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Location: south central KY 75 miles SSE of Louisville
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I believe they have building codes within the city limits here, but out in the county area, I'm pretty sure just about anything goes.

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  #4  
Old 06/06/10, 06:33 PM
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One thing that is pushing adoption of zoning and building codes even in very rural counties is that obnoxious buisnesses like giant corporate confinement hog lots and like try to take advantage of lax regulations and move into such an area creating all sorts of environmental messes. This forces local officials to adopt zoning in order to regulate these buisinesses.

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  #5  
Old 06/06/10, 06:57 PM
 
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I think W Va is pretty liberal in building codes

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  #6  
Old 06/06/10, 07:19 PM
 
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"Special cases are Tennessee, which is now in transition from having no codes to having mandatory control"

Hmmm.....seems to be a glaring inaccuracy.....and I keep a pretty close eye on such things.

Cities and towns in TN have codes, and have for as long as I've been here. (30 years)

Most of the counties have adopted zoning or the FEDS won't sell flood insurance.....so, for example, in our county, you have to get a zoning permit, which simply states that if you decide to build in a known flood zone, you agree to put the first floor above a certain year ( I believe it's the 20 year flood ) stage.....but they don't actually come out and check.

There has ALWAYS been electrical permitting, done by State inspector in the county ( State Dept of Insurance...my guess is the insurance companies demanded it years ago ) but you can buy your own permit and do your own wiring....inspections apply.

There has always been permitting for septic systems.....done by the State Dept of Health.....though this is kinda lax.....I've put several systems in and just "done it", including two at my current home. That may vary by area.

But as to a general building code, in the counties, there is none ( with the exception of a couple counties like Shelby....Memphis...that have gone 'metro'.....the whole county IS Memphis )
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  #7  
Old 06/06/10, 07:57 PM
White Mtns of AZ
 
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House not built to UBC? What about getting a loan? What about resale?

Here's the difference in a nut shell between zoning and building codes:

http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/contentdisplay.aspx?id=718

I wouldn't want many, if any, zoning codes, but I sure would want my house built to Uniform Building Codes especially if there was a chance I'd have to sell sometime.

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  #8  
Old 06/06/10, 08:22 PM
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You might want to consider not engaging your shelter in commerce. You might find that the wording used makes certain things exempt by their nature.

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  #9  
Old 06/06/10, 08:48 PM
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I think a person is wrong not to try to follow UBC as much as possible. I say "as much as possible" because I live in a 130 year old house and there are a few things where the only way to bring the house fully to code would have been to tear it down and start over.

What I love most about South Dakota is that I can do pretty much what I want without going through a long process to get permission to do so. There are some rules and regulations (most set at the county level) but they are easy to follow and unless you want to do something way out of the ordinary, it won't be a problem.

But I often hear of people in other states that need to pull multiple permits to do an indoor remodel project that does not change anything on the exterior, and it can take them months to get it all taken care of, and then there are tons of inspections but the inspector can't be held liable if they miss something.

I also believe the permits and all they entail make since in higher density population areas. I'm sure the City of Sioux Falls has tons of regulations a resident must follow.

Cathy

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Old 06/06/10, 09:02 PM
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I agree with the usefulness of building codes. Their purpose is to protect the occupants and give the builders something to hold themselves to. Modern zoning in most places, however, is very poor with the isolation of public and business buildings from residential, although it does serve a few purposes.

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  #11  
Old 06/06/10, 09:37 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TnAndy View Post
"Special cases are Tennessee, which is now in transition from having no codes to having mandatory control"

Hmmm.....seems to be a glaring inaccuracy.....and I keep a pretty close eye on such things.

Cities and towns in TN have codes, and have for as long as I've been here. (30 years)
as i read it, it was saying that TN had no STATE-level building codes, but that that was changing, and there was soon to be STATE-level codes. as the post stated, even in the states with no state level codes often had codes from smaller jurisdictions (ie, counties and cities).

re: comments about codes being useful
from the original blog entry i linked to:
Quote:
http://earthbagbuilding.wordpress.co...r-not-to-code/

Since I have lived in a code-free county for many years, I have witnessed the effect that this has had on the type of building being done. One might think that with this freedom would come much sloppy and irresponsible construction, and there is certainly some of this…but not much. Most people want to live in a safe, durable home that will hold its value over time, so most building is just as carefully researched and executed as in areas with codes. The main difference is that there is greater diversity in styles and materials choices, with many people opting for more sustainable and natural approaches to building.

Where I live you can easily find homes built with strawbales, earthbags, adobe, cordwood, rammed earth, and recycled materials. It actually seems that people here are being more responsible, since they are actively seeking to live more sustainably. This attitude is slowing moving more into the mainstream; California is the first state that has actually adopted new green building codes.

I lived in Mexico for many years, and building codes are virtually unknown there. They don’t really need them because building practice is so standardized that the same methods are in use from one end of the country to the other. That cultural uniformity assures that most buildings are actually built to high seismic standards, with reinforced concrete bond beams and columns and masonry infill. Nobody has fire insurance because their buildings will not burn. Obviously building codes do not necessary make for safer buildings.
also note that the original blog is about earthbag building. this is a technology that isn't part of the mainstream, so that it won't meet code in many places without some sort of waiver, or signoff from an architect. and that's one problem with codes, in that it's very expensive and time consuming, if not impossible, to try anything innovative, or out of the mainstream.

eg, code requires you to have a openable window in your bedrooms, in order to escape from a fire. but if you build an underground house, and build it out of concrete which doesn't burn, does it make sense to have to follow that rule?

so, were i to be building myself in the absence of code requirements, i'd certainly look at the codes, try to understand their purpose, and do what is safe and makes sense. but if something doesn't make sense for the technology i'm using, i would simply not follow it, and would not have to abandon everything because of bureaucrats without brains following a bunch of rules they don't understand.

from my perspective, i've heard of too many instances where the codes seem to be written to help the building industry, not the homeowners. and too many instances where the codes are used to extract permit fees, rather than protect homeowners from builders taking shortcuts. i'd prefer to decide for myself. that's why i visit a homesteading forum to begin with.

--sgl
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  #12  
Old 06/06/10, 09:44 PM
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State codes I dont think are that much to worry about.
Its the county and township thats the worry!

Wisconsin as a state isnt bad but some counties and townships can be terrible with over regulation.

The last township I lived in didnt even allow a small picket fence with out paid for permits and permission from the people of the town. If during your meeting at town hall, the people voted against your little white picket fence, you were out of luck.
The worse part is township includes the rural people. So it didnt matter if you lived out of town, as I did. You still had to follow the townships codes and ordinances. Even farms had to pay for applying and permits to put up field fencing!
I hated that township and that was one of the reasons why we moved out of the area.

So even if the state seems lax.....watch those counties and township ordinances and codes.

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Old 06/06/10, 10:04 PM
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I'm glad you posted this, I'm just about to start doing some research on this for the different areas on my wish list.

As a tradesmen, I'm not against building codes so much, it's all the red tape, the cost, and then the big-brother effect afterwards. Then some things, like non-structure remodeling is a joke. Last year I moved an interior door opening on a customer's master bedroom, and with all the permit, architecture, and inspection head-aches it made the job way more costly for the home owner.

Then there's times when I think there should be something in place. When my in-laws where buying their house in Mena, AR there was this running joke about "the house(s) Skip built" because this local guy would build one house pretty nice, then the next house if he wanted to save money he would use particle-board for exterior uses, etc. The houses looked and felt find for the first year or so, but it doesn't take long for that stuff to fall apart as some of his houses were doing when the in-laws were in the market.

Then there's the cases where someone comes out with a new product and the first people to use it have to jump through hoops and pay through the nose for the right to use those products. Well that maybe all find and dandy for Mr and Mrs Bigbucks, but if the person using it is doing so to save building costs or utility costs, then it doesn't make sense to pay that extra money if it out-weighs the savings. This is right in-line with the premium that "green" companies charge for their products or services. If you make something that going to save money, then why bang the customer in the front-end???

SirDude

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  #14  
Old 06/06/10, 10:37 PM
 
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Building codes

The ist post said Alabama had little or no codes. True a few years ago. Your book is a little out of date. All plumbing has to be done by a licensed plumber that is state code, septic tank work even a repair has to have a permit and inspection by the county. building codes are either here or coming on all aspects of building. I personally don't like it but the stupid things people are doing that are really dangerous is forcing them on us that do it right. We always over complied with the national building codes and never had a problem selling anything we built even with all kinds of inspections done. If I was buying and upon talking with the sellers or during inspection they had side stepped correct building procedures I would walk away. The codes are there to protect people. most home owners really need them. People who are looking for a place with no codes are not planning to build something I would let my cat stay in. And I don't even have a cat. David[/I]

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  #15  
Old 06/06/10, 11:50 PM
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In Nevada it's by county. Some have them and some don't.

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  #16  
Old 06/07/10, 05:23 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sgl42 View Post
as i read it, it was saying that TN had no STATE-level building codes, but that that was changing, and there was soon to be STATE-level codes.
--sgl
THAT was my point......there is NO talk of a State level building codes, hence, that statement is inaccurate.
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  #17  
Old 06/07/10, 06:48 AM
 
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Don't know where Terry Herb gets his information about Michigan, but it wasn't from this website: http://www.reedconstructiondata.com/...odes/michigan/

Michigan has lots of zoning ordinances and building codes. Well, septic, construction, mechanicals, plumbing, electrical, rehab, fire, and so forth. Most start at the Township level where you must apply for a building permit, or ask for a copy--or references to the codes involved.

Obviously, not much building going on right now in Michigan, nor is anyone thinking of moving TO Michigan, but, even so, one shouldn't be misled by thinking they will get a free hand to build anything, anywhere, they please here.

geo

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  #18  
Old 06/07/10, 07:10 AM
Brenda Groth
 
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Location: Michigan
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here in Michigan it depends on what you are building..a house or garage or barn you'll have to get an inspection and there are codes when you have an inspection..if it is smaller or just something simple like a fence or shed..nope..none

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Old 06/07/10, 08:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by geo in mi View Post
Don't know where Terry Herb gets his information about Michigan, but it wasn't from this website: http://www.reedconstructiondata.com/...odes/michigan/

Michigan has lots of zoning ordinances and building codes. Well, septic, construction, mechanicals, plumbing, electrical, rehab, fire, and so forth. Most start at the Township level where you must apply for a building permit, or ask for a copy--or references to the codes involved.

Obviously, not much building going on right now in Michigan, nor is anyone thinking of moving TO Michigan, but, even so, one shouldn't be misled by thinking they will get a free hand to build anything, anywhere, they please here.

geo
Yeah. It's been a few years, so my recollection's a bit hazy, but it seems when DH#2 and I built, where the county hadn't established a code, the state code applied.
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  #20  
Old 06/07/10, 08:29 AM
 
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I live in one of the poorest counties in Missouri (the county unincorporated about 10 years ago and the entire county is zoned agriculture) and there are literally no codes or enforcement beyond some EPA mandates.

Its good from the standpoint of no permit hassles or expenses but we are having to correct a multitude of sins as we remodel our old farmhouse. We found thinwalled pipe for our main waste line, no junction boxes for any of the electrical system, floor joists cut for various reasons over the years and inadequate headers over one of the garage doors. We knew that going into it and we got it for a great price but we have spent a lot of time and money correcting things as we remodel.

On balance I would rather be unregulated and it forces you to become much more involved in what you are doing to your place, even if you contract it out. But, even with all of the work we are doing, we would never pass a modern building inspection. Financing can also be an issue, we originally looked to take out a mortgage from our bank (USAA) but they wouldnt touch anything not zoned single family residential so we just bought it outright. What I have learned from the locals though is that local banks will finance based on "as is" specifications at a little higher interest rate than what is prevailing.

We contracted out the major electrical (weather head, new tri-plex, new service panels, some of the interior wiring) and specified that it had to comply with code prevailing in the nearest large community which follows national standards. Some of what we found was extremely dangerous and I am amazed this place didnt burn down before but we are pleased with the results and we like the uniqueness of all the houses here.

Just be aware of what your getting into and remember that though housing is extremely inexpensive in these areas, you have to have money put aside for the repairs you will need to make. The end product is very satisfying.

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