Building Regulations: A Self-Help Guide For The Owner Builder

Ed Vitale tells you what you need to know about building regulations. Definitions, history and clear explanation of legal requirements for building.

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    Building codes are confusing, but Ed Vitale explains them for you.

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"Shucks. Puttin up your own house ain't hard at all. What's hard is figuring out and conforming to all those @#$¢&* building codes and regulations. " 

Take heart, all you would-be and actual fabricators of do-it-yourself shelter. At last someone (good old MOTHER) has commissioned a series of articles designed to help you meet—and beat!—those most troublesome of all obstacles in the construction of your own home:

The series of informative pieces (the first of which appears below) was written by Ed Vitale, an attorney who specialized in real estate and building construction during most of his ten years of private practice. So read on as Ed [1] investigates in detail the four major model building codes used in this country, especially as they apply to the activities of the owner-builder, [2] gives you concrete explanations and examples of "how to read the code", [3] reviews the statutory and administrative framework of the construction and sanitary codes of four representative states, and [4] generally lays down criticism, comments, and plain good help for anyone contemplating the construction of his or her own shelter. 

Part One: Problem and Background

Building regulations (those amorphous, contradictory, dictatorial, and highly technical governmental edicts) and the building inspector (the physical embodiment of the construction establishment) are part of the harsh realities that the "new pioneer" of American society (the homesteader, back and/or owner-builder) must face.

The individual self-builder generally feels that he or she should have the right to do what he or she wants with his or her land ... to build the shelter he or she desires ... and to use entirely different materials from those used in the fabrication of his or her neighbor's house. But building regulations—in solidifying the status quo of construction technology and housing aesthetics—often do not permit this basic freedom'.

The right to build your own dwelling according to your own desires, then, is the major area in which alternate, ecological, and simpler lifestyles run head-on into the energy-consuming, resource-wasting, creature-comforted majority of our society and hit construction contractors, labor unions, and building material producers right in the breadbasket.



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