The International Building Code (IBC) and International Residential Code (IRC) are written and administered by a group called the International Code Council (ICC). These codes cover commercial and residential building and remodeling.
Both are available from IRC online for about $100. The ICC version is the most up to date and reliable version available. If you work with structures in any capacity professionally, it is in your best interests to sign up for the ICC.
As a business expenditure, it will most likely be tax-deductible, too (contingent on your own situation, of course).
Portions of these codes are available for free (see list below). These codes are not officially posted. In fact, there are contentious matters of copyright concerning these codes. These codes are not maintained and there is no guarantee of their legitimacy. However, these versions are valuable in the sense that they can give you a general idea about code requirements. Also, they can point you in the right direction in order to seek out legitimate sources (code numbering does not change much from version to version).
- The most reliable source for IBC and IRC online is through the International Code Council (ICC).
- The code is updated every three years.
- Work done before a certain code was implemented might be grandfathered in (check with your local permitting office).
- There are several unofficial sources of the IBC and IRC (see below) and you should use them at your own risk.
- ICC itself offers partial IBC and IRC for free online.
- ICC is known for vigorously its copyrighted materials. As one example, in 2016 it brought a lawsuit against International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials for alleged copying of ICC intellectual property.
- Municipalities may adapt model IBC and IRC codes to fit local needs.
IBC vs. IRC vs. ICC: Sorting Out the Alphabet Soup
- ICC: The ICC is in charge of a wide range of codes that will not apply to your home remodel or build (or only slightly), such as codes for property maintenance, swimming pools and spas, fuel gas, sewage, and many more. But a number of codes do apply--the IBC and IRC.
- IBC: The International Building Code contains regulations about commercial construction
- IRC: The International Residential Code contains about residential construction (which also touches on home remodeling issues).
Model vs. Local Building Codes
The IBC are IRC are model codes for building structures that communities can adopt and adapt in-part as needed. They are not legal as-is.
If you want to lay a floor in Tallahassee or hang drywall in Poughkeepsie--whatever you are doing home remodeling-wise--chances are good that your local actions are dictated by these international codes.
Consulting the IBC or IRC may not necessarily apply to that floor in Tallahassee (but it might, since some municipalities adopt the code in-whole). Only after a community adopts a building code does it become legal.
IBC and IRC 2015 - Paid
The surest way to have the IBC on hand and up to date is to buy it from the ICC.
The International Residential Code costs $96.
IBC 2015 Online - Free
- The ICC has posted a limited IBC 2015 online.
IBC 2012 Online- Free
Though it has an official-sounding name, Public Resource is a volunteer operation run by Carl Malamud, out of San Francisco, CA. Malamud and a group of scanners believe that public information should be public. Archive.org is the host site for Public Resource activities.
However, since these codes are copyrighted, they (and other documents posted by Malamud) have been challenged by the organizations that own the copyrights. Before using any Archive.org codes, keep this in mind, as well as the fact that these codes only maintained by Archive volunteers.
- Direct link to free .pdf of IBC 2012 at Archive.org. This is the full 732 page document.
IBC 2006, 2010, and 2012: States and Cities
The IBC as adopted by sixteen U.S. states and four U.S. cities (Phoenix, Boulder, LA, New York, Seattle)
- IBC - States and Cities
- IBC has an older section, Historical Free Resources, that overlaps with the above link.