Construction Codes have become an important issue for Georgia's local governments, building professionals and citizens alike. The following is a general overview of Georgia's Construction Code Program, including enforcement, local amendments, current codes, and whom to call if you have questions regarding construction codes and related issues in Georgia.
The Uniform Codes Act is codified at chapter 2 of title 8 of The Official Code of Georgia Annotated. O.C.G.A. Section 8-2-20(9)(B). Below is a list of the current mandatory and permissive state codes. Each of these separate codes typically consist of a base code (e.g. The International Building Code as published by the International Code Council) and a set of Georgia amendments to the base code. The mandatory codes are applicable to all construction whether or not they are locally enforced and the permissive codes are only applicable if a local government chooses to adopt and enforce one or more of these codes. These codes are as follows:
- International Building Code
- International Residential Code for One- and Two-Family Dwellings
- International Fire Code
- International Plumbing Code
- International Mechanical Code
- International Fuel Gas Code
- National Electrical Code
- International Energy Conservation Code
- International Swimming Pool and Spa Code
- Disaster Resilient Building Code IBC Appendix
- Disaster Resilient Building Code IRC Appendix
- International Property Maintenance Code
- International Existing Building Code
- National Green Building Standard
As noted above, the building, one and two family dwelling residential, fire, plumbing, mechanical, gas, electrical, energy, and swimming pool codes are mandatory codes, meaning that under Georgia law, any structure built in Georgia must comply with these codes, whether or not the local government chooses to locally enforce these codes.
In addition, since Georgia law gives the enumerated codes statewide applicability, it is not required that local governments have to adopt the mandatory codes. Local governments must, however, adopt administrative procedures in order to enforce them (O.C.G.A. Section 8-2-25(a)). However, the local government can choose which of the mandatory codes it wishes to locally enforce.
The remaining codes are referred to as permissive codes. Unlike the mandatory codes, in order for a local government to enforce one or more of these permissive codes, that code or codes must be adopted, either by ordinance or resolution, by the local jurisdiction. A copy of the ordinance or resolution adopted must be forwarded to DCA (O.C.G.A. Section 8-2-25 (b)).
Administration and Enforcement of the State Minimum Standard Codes
In order to properly administer and enforce the state minimum standard codes, local governments must adopt reasonable administrative provisions. The power to adopt these administrative procedures is set forth in O.C.G.A. Section 8-2-26(a)(1). These provisions should include procedural requirements for the enforcement of the codes, provisions for hearings, provisions for appeals from decisions of local inspectors, and any other procedures necessary for the proper local administration and enforcement of the state minimum standard codes. These powers include:
- Inspecting buildings and other structures to ensure compliance with the code;
- Employing inspectors and other personnel necessary for the proper enforcement of codes;
- Requiring permits and to establishment charges for said permits; and
- Contracting with other local governments for code enforcement.
DCA periodically reviews, amends and/or updates the state minimum standard codes. If a local government chooses to locally enforce any of these codes, it must enforce the latest editions and the amendments adopted by DCA.
DCA has developed a sample resolution/ordinance that may be used as a guide for local governments in the development of their administrative procedures. Please contact DCA for a copy of this sample resolution/ordinance and for any technical assistance needed in the development of a local code enforcement program.
It should be noted that The Uniform Codes Act states that the appendices of the codes are not enforceable unless referenced in the body of the code, adopted by DCA, or specifically adopted by a municipality or county. If any appendices have been adopted by DCA, they will be noted in the Georgia amendments as such.
The Uniform Codes Act provides that local governments may, under certain conditions, adopt local amendments to the state minimum standard codes. Please note that DCA does not approve or disapprove any local amendment. The department provides a recommendation only. However, in order to enforce any local amendment, the local government must submit the proposed amendment to DCA for review (O.C.G.A. Section 8-2-25(c)).
There are several requirements local governments must meet in order to enact a local code amendment. These requirements are as follows:
The requirements in the proposed local amendment cannot be less stringent than the requirements in the state minimum standard code.
The local requirements must be based on local climatic, geologic, topographic, or public safety factors;
The legislative findings of the local governing body must identify the need for the more stringent requirements; and
The local government must submit the proposed amendment to DCA 60 days prior to the proposed adoption of such an amendment.
After submittal of the proposed local amendment, DCA has 60 days in which to forward its recommendations to the local government. DCA may respond in three ways: recommend adoption of the amendment, recommend the amendment not be adopted, or have no comment on the proposal. If DCA recommends against the adoption of the proposed amendment, the local governing body must vote specifically to reject DCA's recommendation before the local amendment can be adopted and enforced. If DCA fails to respond within the 60-day time frame, the local government may adopt the proposed local amendment.
After adoption by the local governing authority, copies of local amendments must be filed with DCA.
The Current State Minimum Standard Codes
The following are the current state minimum standard codes for construction as adopted by the Board of Community Affairs.
Current Mandatory Codes as Adopted by DCA:
- International Building Code, 2018 Edition, with Georgia Amendments (2020), (2022), (2024)
- International Residential Code, 2018 Edition, with Georgia Amendments (2020), (2024)
- International Fire Code, 2018 Edition (Contact State Fire Marshal Below)
- International Plumbing Code, 2018 Edition, with Georgia Amendments (2020), (2022), (2023), (2024)
- International Mechanical Code, 2018 Edition, with Georgia Amendments (2020), (2024)
- International Fuel Gas Code, 2018 Edition, with Georgia Amendments (2020), (2022)
- National Electrical Code, 2020 Edition, with Georgia Amendments (2021)
- International Energy Conservation Code, 2015 Edition, with Georgia Supplements and Amendments (2020), (2022), (2023)
- International Swimming Pool and Spa Code, 2018 Edition, with Georgia Amendments (2020)
- For information and questions regarding the Life Safety Code (NFPA 101), IFC Georgia Amendments or the Georgia Accessibility Code please contact the State Fire Marshal's Office.
Current Permissive Codes as Adopted by DCA:
- Disaster Resilient Building Code IBC Appendix(2013)
- Disaster Resilient Building Code IRC Appendix (2013)
- International Property Maintenance Code, 2018 Edition, with Georgia Amendments (2021)
- International Existing Building Code, 2018 Edition, with Georgia Amendments (2021)
- National Green Building Standard, 2008 Edition, with Georgia Amendments (2011)
PLEASE NOTE: There are Georgia Amendments to the codes, above. Please contact the Construction Codes and Industrialized Buildings Section for more information concerning these amendments.