Building Codes & Principles

Hazard Mitigation Building Codes, Laws, Regulations & Policies

Building codes specify the minimum design and construction requirements to safeguard the health, safety, and welfare of both building occupants and the general public. 

The following documents provide guidance on the hazard-resistant provisions in the building codes for property owners, engineers and design professionals, building codes officials, and the general public.

These resources are divided by natural hazard and address earthquake, flood, and wind.

  • FEMA’s Building Code Resources page contains documents summarizing the International Codes’ hazard-resistant provisions in the building codes for property owners, engineers and design professionals, building codes officials, and the general public.  These resources are divided by natural hazard and address earthquake, flood, and wind (including information on hurricane and tornado shelters).
  • The FEMA Building Codes Toolkit provides guidance to help property owners understand building codes. The Building Codes Toolkit provides basic guidance and easy-to-use tools to help property owners understand building codes and the basic processes and standards associated with proper design, permitting, construction, and mitigation.Historically, details of the building codes, how they are implemented, and its value to overall community planning and disaster resilience have only been understood by the technical community (i.e., engineers, architects, building codes officials, etc.).  FEMA recognizes that it is also equally important for the property owners to learn building codes and how their investment to proper construction ultimately protects their property and their occupants.

Cover photo for the document: FEMA P-798, Natural Hazards and Sustainability for Residential Buildings (2010)

  • The Natural Hazards and Sustainability for Residential Building publication outlines using green building practices to retain or improve natural hazard resistance. This document discusses how to retain or improve natural hazard resistance while incorporating these green building practices.  While most common green building practices provide sustainability advantages with little or no effect on structural performance or durability, others require reevaluation of the building’s structural design or detailing to retain its integrity during natural hazard events.  Often, only minimal design modifications are required to maintain natural hazard resistance.

FLOOD GUIDANCE

Quick Reference Guide –

Comparison of Select NFIP and 2018 I-Code Requirements for Special Flood Hazard Areas

October 30, 2018

The updated Quick Reference Guide illustrates the similarities and highlights the differences between the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) minimum requirements and the requirements of the 2018 International Codes® (I-Codes®) and ASCE 24-14, Flood Resistant Design and Construction (ASCE 24), a standard referenced by the I-Codes.

The illustrations highlight some of the key similarities and differences between foundation types, lowest floor elevations, enclosures below elevated buildings, and utilities requirements of the NFIP and I-Codes for most residential, commercial and industrial buildings (classified as “Flood Design Class 2”).


Reducing Flood Losses Through the International Codes –

Coordinating Building Codes and Floodplain Management Regulations, 5th Edition

 
October 18, 2019

Developed by the International Code Council and FEMA, this guide helps state and local officials integrate the

International Codes® (I-Codes®) into their current floodplain management regulatory processes related to structures, buildings, and other development to satisfy the requirements to participate in the NFIP. 

FEMA considers the latest editions of the I-Codes to be the minimum standards for hazard resistance, including flood hazards, high winds, and earthquake hazards. Cover photo for the document: Reducing Flood Losses Through the International Codes: Coordinating Building Codes and Floodplain Management Regulations, 5th Edition (2019)

  • Chapter 2 describes three approaches for coordinating the I-Codes and local floodplain management regulations and identifies several advantages and considerations when relying on the flood provisions of the codes.
  • Chapter 3 explains several differences between the NFIP regulations and the I-Code requirements related to specific terminology and provisions. Many requirements in the codes exceed NFIP minimum requirements, and some provisions are more specific than the NFIP, especially in the International Building Code®, which references ASCE 24, Flood Resistant Design and Construction.
  • Chapter 4 contains questions that states and communities should answer to know whether and how to modify existing floodplain management regulations to coordinate with building codes.
  • Chapter 5 describes modifications that can be adopted to incorporate higher standards in State and local building codes that are based on the I-Codes to further increase building and community resilience to flood damage.
  • Chapter 6 introduces the model code-coordinated ordinances prepared by FEMA. The model ordinances are listed below.
  • Appendix A lists cited references and other resources that are useful for understanding and interpreting the requirements of the NFIP.
  • Appendix B provides sample checklists for a plan review and inspection.
 


Chapter 6 introduces the model code-coordinated ordinances prepared by FEMA in the Reducing Flood Losses Through the International Codes. 

Three versions of a model ordinance are coordinated – written as a companion – with the flood provisions of the International Codes® (I-Codes).  See links in the table below.

Version 3: Model Code-Coordinated Ordinance Checklist

0.34M

September 5, 2019

Version 3: Model Code-Coordinated Ordinance

0.38M

September 5, 2019

Version 2: Model Code-Coordinated Ordinance

0.31M

September 5, 2019

Version 1: Model Code-Coordinated Ordinance

0.08M

September 5, 2019


Highlights of ASCE 24 Flood Resistant Design and Construction

ASCE 24-14:  The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) 24-14 is a referenced standard in the 2015 International Building Code® (IBC) and the 2015 International Residential Code® (IRC). Building and structures within the scope of the IBC proposed to be constructed in flood hazard areas must be designed in accordance with ASCE 24-14. The IRC requires dwellings in floodways to be designed in accordance with ASCE 24-14 and includes an alternative that allows communities to require homes in any flood zone to be designed in accordance with ASCE 24-15. Highlights of ASCE 24-14 that complement the NFIP minimum requirements include: Building Performance; Flood-Damage Resistant Materials; Utilities and Service Equipment and Siting Considerations.

ASCE 24-05:  The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) 24-05 is a referenced standard in the International Building Code® and International Residential Code® (editions published 2012, 2009 and 2006).  Building and structures within the scope of the IBC proposed to be constructed in a flood hazard area must designed in accordance with ASCE 24. The IRC requires that dwellings in floodways to be designed in accordance with ASCE 24, and the 2012 and 2009 editions include an alternative that allows communities to require homes in Zones V to be designed in accordance with ASCE 24. Highlights of ASCE 24 that complement the NFIP minimum requirements include: Building Performance; Flood-Damage Resistant Materials; Utilities and Service Equipment; and Siting Considerations.

Link to the highlights on FEMA’s webpage.


HMA AND ASCE GUIDANCE

Building Codes for Mitigation: Using ASCE 24 – Webinar

January 25, 2018

The Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) Program provides assistance for mitigation activities that reduce damage and protect life and property from future damages.  HMA Addendum (dated 2/27/2015) states: “FEMA will use ASCE 24-14, or latest edition, or its equivalent as the minimum design criteria for all HMA-funded structure elevation, dry flood proofing, and mitigation reconstruction projects in flood hazard areas.”

FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) Division delivered a webinar to share information on the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) 24 Building Codes for Mitigation.  Presenters provided information on ASCE 24 flood-specific building code requirements as they relate to HMA, including information about mitigation projects such as elevations, floodproofing, and mitigation reconstruction. Participants who would find value in this webinar include floodplain administrators, city and building code officials, insurance adjusters, and others who have an interest in understanding and applying ASCE 24 requirements.

Participants who would find value in this webinar include floodplain administrators, city and building code officials, insurance adjusters, and others who have an interest in understanding and applying ASCE 24 requirements. Link to the Webinar:

Link to Q&A Sheet: FEMA HMA Webinar – Using ASCE 24 for Hazard Mitigation Assistance

Link to https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/158814 for more information.


Guidance for Applying ASCE 24 Engineering Standards to HMA Flood Retrofitting and Reconstruction Projects

November 2013

This ASCE 24 HMA Guidance was prepared by the FEMA to assist local governments, designers, and property owners.  It identifies key design and construction requirements in the ASCE Structural Engineering Institute’s ASCE/SEI 24-05, Flood-Resistant Design, and Construction (ASCE 24) that apply to HMA flood mitigation grant projects.  

This document is in no way intended to be used in place of ASCE 24 but rather as a companion to the standard.  Designers, local officials, and others who want to apply the standard still need to refer to the standard for complete requirements.

The guidance does not advocate construction in the floodplain; rather, it is intended to reduce hazard risk for situations in which there is no practicable alternative.  The emphasis of this document is on mitigation if construction in the floodplain is not avoidable, although the best way to greatly reduce (if not eliminate) flood risk is to relocate a structure out of the floodplain.  The term “must” is used in the context of the ASCE 24 design standard to indicate compliance to applicable criteria within ASCE 24.



 

Link to the ASCE library website for the latest policy and guidance: https://ascelibrary.org/doi/book/10.1061/asce24