Development Code and Design Standards
The rules of the municipality for the regulation of development and construction are spelled out in the development code. Within this code, rules about allowable size, location, construction type, function, access and aesthetics of new structures are typically included. Design standards provides further detail on the form and aesthetics of the structure, including such things as position and size of garages, location of entry, inclusion of architectural features and certain minimum sizes of spaces and features like yards and porches. Visit your planning department or its website to locate and review the development code and design standards before you begin your project, so that you can make sure the design you have chosen will meet all requirements; otherwise, your project will be delayed and require revisions before it will be permitted.
Energy Code & Building Envelope
The IRC model code includes energy code and building envelope specifications for climate zones across the US. In this section, information such as insulation R-values, window U-values and envelope sealing are covered. This section of the model code is commonly modified or replaced by states, counties and municipalities. In some localities, additional paperwork, calculations and/or building heating/cooling modeling may be required. Check with the building department to verify the requirements where you intend to build. In some cases, it may be necessary to hire a qualified consultant to complete the compliance requirements. It may be necessary to modify the design to meet requirements, once the design has been analyzed with respect to the local energy code requirements.
Many subdivisions include Home Owner Associations (HOA), which impose additional requirements and reviews that you will need to satisfy, even if you have obtained your building permits. Depending on the scope of the HOA rules, it is possible that you can be required to alter the house design that you propose to build. For this reason, it is important to check with your HOA before you complete your house design work, and before you submit for your building permits. Even if you are not regulated by an HOA, there may be other design covenants and restrictions that apply to your project.