From Architect Wiki

Building development is controlled by two primary legal structures:

  1. Land use regulations: Consisting of zoning and planning ordinances
  2. Building Codes: These include national, state, regional, and local codes.

Land Use

Land use is governed by local, regional, and national zoning and land use regulations. On the local level, land use is typically regulated by the Zoning element of the jurisdictions General Plan. The process of verifying if a particular land use is allowed is called the Entitlement Process.

Common Land Use Issues

The following is a partial list of common land use issues and questions:

Building Codes

Which Code Should I Use?

The first step to determining which code to use is to determine who the governing agency is. For example, if you are doing a project within an incorporated city, that city will most likely have a building department and they will be the lead agency. If you are doing a project outside of a city, your governing agency may be the building department of the county, province, state, or federal government. Sometimes there are exceptions to this, such as with pre-fabricated or factery built structures. The structure may be reviewed by a state agency but the site work by the local agency.

Once you have determined the agency with jurisdiction you should contact them to determine which codes will apply to your project. This may frequently be an international code such as the International Building Code or the Universal Building Code. States, such as California and New York, may have their own codes which are based on one of the standard codes. Cities, or counties may also amend, or have additional code requirements. For example, the City of San Francisco has significant amendments to the model codes (

Common Building Code Issues

The following is a partial list of common code issues and questions: