Building Subcode

Building Subcode means the structural and finish materials, the means of egress (doors, stairs and corridors), fire rating of assemblies, light and ventilation, and methods of insulating the building. We share responsibility for the mechanical heating and cooling systems with the Fire and Plumbing subcode Official and Plumbing Subcode Official.


Examples of work which require a Building Subcode technical approval for permit are:

  • New construction, additions and alterations to existing spaces
  • Any work affecting structural integrity
  • Sheds, decks, finishing of basements or lofts
  • Roofing or siding (when replacing more than 25% of the existing), windows and doors (when opening sizes are changed or means or egress is changed) new porches, steps and fences

Projects That Do Not Need a Permit

You must have a permit before you start work. There are two exceptions:

  • Certain minor work requires a permit, however, work may proceed upon notice to the Building Department. Application must be made within 72 hours
  • Ordinary repairs

The permit must be displayed on the job site and a copy of the approved plans must be available on the job site.


Footings are required to support the girders upon which the joists and decking are constructed. Footings should be a minimum of 3-foot 0 inches deep below the finished grade and placed on firm bearing. Support of deck joists on an old sidewalk or patio slab is not adequate. Bearing of footings in the loose fill immediately adjacent to the house foundation is not sufficient.

A ledger is the board which sometimes is bolted to the side of the existing house to support the deck joists. The ledger should be bolted into a solid minimum two inch (2 inches) thick rim joist, not into a manufactured truss joist (which normally has a 3/8 inches plywood web).

Guardrails are required at decks higher than 30" and are always required at the open side of steps to protect from falling off. Handrails are required where the number of steps is three or more.


The code requires a minimum finished ceiling height of 7-foot 0 inches to the lowest projection (beam, girders, duct, etc.)

Fire stopping, which is the blocking off of the connection between concealed vertical spaces and concealed horizontal spaces (such a furred wall to a ceiling space), is required. This is a lot easier to put in before the walls and ceilings are constructed.

People have to breathe. Therefore, the code requires that provision should be made for ventilation. this can be by windows or by mechanical means.

Stairs need to have continuous handrails. The code requires handrail ends to be returned to walls or to posts.


Sheds more than 100 square feet require anchorage to grade.