Building Codes and Standards

National Model Building Codes and Standards

The national model building codes and standards establish minimum requirements for the design, construction, alteration and maintenance of structures. They provide uniformity and relieve state and local jurisdictions from the burden of creating individual building codes.

Model codes and standards are developed and published by independent organizations, based on the participation of a diverse group of stakeholders, including code officials, product manufacturers, health and safety advocates and industry representatives. The international model codes are produced by the International Code Council (ICC). Several other organizations, including the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) publish additional building codes and standards.

These codes and standards routinely serve as the basis for state and local building codes and federal regulations. However, they are not in effect or enforceable until they are adopted by a state or local jurisdiction. Accordingly, state and local governments may adopt model codes and standards in whole, in part or amend the model provisions to accommodate specific regional conditions.

Model codes and standards are generally not retroactive; rather, they apply to new buildings constructed from the time of adoption forward. However, some model provisions are specifically intended to apply to existing structures. Such provisions are found in Chapter 34 of the International Building Code, the International Fire Code and the International Property Maintenance Code.


NMHC/NAA advocate for codes and standards that are technologically feasible, cost-effective and reflect the unique needs of the multifamily industry. As active participants in the code development process, NMHC/NAA and or our consultants regularly serve as members of code and standard development committees as well as organizational governance committees. In other cases, we collaborate with the development committees, craft code proposals, represent the multifamily sector at code hearings, develop code commentary, collaborate with local code officials and serve as a resource for the code- and standard-making organizations.

Throughout the development process, we monitor proposals for the practical impacts to apartment properties and the costs of implementing new codes. Unnecessarily and prohibitively increasing the construction costs of apartment communities limits the affordability of rental units and aggravates the shortage of affordable housing that already exists in the U.S.

Issue Fact Sheet

NMHC Building Codes Issue Fact Sheet

NMHC Building Codes Resources

These printable PDFs provide an overview of the model building codes and the timeline for updating the current codes and standards.

ICC Model Building Codes

The International Code Council (ICC) publishes 15 International Codes, or I-Codes, as well as two key standards of importance to the apartment industry.  More information on the ICC code development process as well as resources for practitioners is available here.