April 16, 2024

Understanding Roofing Codes and Regulations

roofing code

Roofing codes and regulations ensure roofing structures’ safety, durability, and quality. They establish minimum requirements for roof materials, design, and construction.

Local authorities typically establish these codes, which are then enforced by building inspectors. Amendments are also made to the codes to address specific concerns and improve performance, such as in hurricane-prone areas.

Materials

The materials used in roofing projects can impact how well a roof can withstand the elements. Roofing contractors must be familiar with the latest building codes and regulations; current code requirements are available on the websites of professional organizations and are also discussed at industry events. For instance, NRCA participates in the International Roofing Expo, which includes educational sessions on code requirements.

The International Building Code (IBC) includes provisions related to roofing materials. For example, Section 1507 covers slope requirements for various types of roofs. For instance, new coal-tar built-up and thermoset roofs require a slope of 1/4:12 (2%), while asphalt shingle roofs should have at least a 3:12 slope. In addition, the IBC also includes provisions relating to fire resistance testing of roofs and how well they are secured to the structure.

Design

Roof building codes and standards must be followed for new construction or renovation. These guidelines provide a common-language script for architects, engineers, and builders/contractors and are enforced by local governing bodies or authorities.

Building codes establish minimum requirements for weather protection, structural performance, and roofing materials. They also set fire-resistance classification requirements based on the type and use of a building.

Many building and residential codes have been updated to reflect advancements in materials, technologies, and testing procedures. For example, the latest edition of the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) Roofing Manual contains revised recommendations for attic ventilation based on new research and data, and the IECC includes more accurate R-value requirements in its chapter concerning commercial energy efficiency.

Inspectors have a crucial responsibility in ensuring that work is completed under the regulations set by the authorities. They can issue stop-work orders, impose fines, and even demand that certain repairs be redone if they do not meet code requirements. Compliance with codes and regulations can save time, money, and potential legal action.

Installation

Building codes and regulations cover everything from the initial construction of a roof to its maintenance, repair, and roofing replacement. The compliance landscape is highly complex, and roofing contractors must understand it thoroughly. It is important to remember that not complying with specific regulations or laws can result in penalties, legal issues, and damage to one’s reputation.

Among the most important aspects of roofing code compliance is compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations about workplace safety. ASHRAE regulations are the absolute authority on energy efficiency requirements for windows, doors, insulation, and roofing. In particular, ASHRAE’s roofing standards are considered the most stringent and comprehensive in the industry.

Compliance also means navigating the relationships between roofing businesses and local building inspectors or code enforcement officers. Developing these relationships with professionalism and a solid commitment to compliance can help ensure that inspections go smoothly and help establish a roofing business’s reputation within the community of regulatory authorities. The complex nature of roofing code compliance requires a multifaceted approach that includes ongoing education, vigilance, and, occasionally, professional legal consultation.

Maintenance

As building codes change, all roofing projects must meet current requirements. Non-compliance with current standards may endanger structures and occupants, resulting in costly repairs or legal implications.

It is also essential to understand that local governing bodies determine these standards and vary by location. For example, while the International Code Council provides model codes that are standardized templates authorities in actual jurisdictions can adopt and amend as they see fit, these amendments can make it necessary to know which version of a specific code is in effect where you are working.

For example, while most states use the model code for asphalt shingles that require them to be fastened with four nails per shingle (except in designated high-wind areas), Rhode Island requires six nails per shingle. Additionally, some jurisdictions require a higher R-value for insulation in cold climates, and others have requirements related to the wildland-urban interface.