By Andrew Morrison
There has been so much talk over the years around the “straw bale building table” about building codes and how they get in the way of our ability to build with natural materials. I have heard people talk about how building officials have ruined their dreams time and again, and stories about building officials requiring so many “over the top” details in a home that building it became impossible. You can imagine, therefore, that I tend to shock people when I tell them that I actually like building officials and that I prefer job sites that have an inspection process over those where no building officials visit the site. Let me explain.
If you have ever been to a job site where no building inspections take place and no plan review is required, you may have seen what I have seen: a house that is built below code with several omissions and/or mistakes which put the occupants at risk. For example, deciding to save a little money by not installing collar-ties between your rafters could lead to the roof’s collapse and your death or injury. That’s certainly not worth the money saved. Just because you are not required to build to code doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. A lot of thought has gone in to developing the building codes we use both here in the States and abroad. You may find that some are overkill and some are unnecessary based on the scope of your project; however, I strongly recommend that you adopt as many of the code provisions as you can in order to provide a safe home for you and your family.