Arizona Building Codes

How to Find Arizona Building Codes

Arizona essentially has a decentralized system of building codes. City or county governments in Arizona select and adopt from a number of available construction and building codes. They then have the option of amending those codes. Professionals in the construction and engineering industries need to find out which codes are used in municipalities or counties where they intend to work. They also need to find sources of these codes for ready access if encountering compliance questions or problems.

Step 1:

The first thing you will need to do is find your local building department. The name of this agency varies based on local rule, but each city or county has an office dedicated to building codes, construction permits and other matters related to regulation of the construction and engineering industries.

The easiest way to do this is to enter the city name and “building codes” or “building department” in Yahoo! or another search engine.

Example:

Let’s say I am looking to run a plumbing contractor business or participate in a construction project in Tucson. When entering “Tucson building codes” into Yahoo!, I come up with the Planning and Development Services Department “Building Codes” web page on the official Tucson City website. By looking at that page, you can see that Tucson adopts multiple international building codes. The city has also adopted some other uniform and national building codes and offers a copy of these codes online.

Step 2:

Ask the local building department which building codes are in effect in that jurisdiction. Now, it may be helpful to know how the process of adopting building codes in Arizona and other places work. Organizations like the International Code Council create model building codes. In fact, you can see the latest versions of the main international building codes online at the ICC website (see Resources below). But the problem is that local cities and counties in Arizona can amend these model codes.

To avoid using incorrect code provisions, it is vital that you access the local version of any model codes. This is why you must ask your local building department where to find the building codes as locally amended. The original codes can be used for reasearch and construction planning only if a code is not amended by the local building authority.

Additional Sources of Information on Arizona Building Codes:

  1. The National Electrical Contractors Association lists various local Arizona building departments, their contact information and which codes are used in that city or county. This will not be the end of your research for local Arizona building codes because you still need to contact the local agency to find the amended versions of the codes used in that jurisdiction.
  2. The Structural Engineers Association of America also has a similar list. Use that list to find contact information for local building agencies. Contact the agencies to find the proper Arizona building codes.
Building a Deck

Tips for Planning and Building a Deck

One of the most obvious and visually impressive additions we can make to our homes is an outdoor deck. Decks can also serve a variety of practical functions for us. They can ease the transition between our houses and gardens, soften grade changes if our houses lie on slopes, and divide our yards into smaller plots that can then be given their own unique styles and treatments.

When sketching out our initial concepts for a deck, we’ll want to consider its main function. Will we be entertaining large numbers of people on a regular basis? If so, a series of small decks connected by wide steps (which can double as seats in party situations) might suit our purposes. If we simply want a place where we can step out with our spouse in the evening, a single deck connected to the house might be more appropriate. We also want to consider our privacy – i.e., whether our proposed location(s) would put us in open view of our neighbors.

Wood is generally the most reliable material to use because of its overall sturdiness. Some of the best varieties include Southern pine, Hem-fir, and naturally rot resistant redwood and cedar. For the ecologically conscious, plastic composite decking, which is made from recycled plastics mixed with materials like sawdust to give it a wood-like appearance, can serve as a viable alternative. Either way, we will still want to use wood for the posts and joists.

Treated wood can last for decades longer than untreated varieties. However, because of the chemicals that are used in it as preservatives, we should take caution when handling it and use gloves, a dust mask, and goggles. We should also throw away treated wood debris and never burn it.

For fasteners, screws provide a more tenacious hold than nails, and stainless steel won’t leave rust marks on the wood like galvanized steel is apt to. Both are worth the added expense. Regardless of the width of the decking, two fasteners should be used at each joist.

It is required that we build a railing for our deck if it sits more than 30 inches above the ground. Railings need to be between 36 and 42 inches high. If we have small children, we might consider using steel for this detail, as it will be much stronger. Steel (as opposed to wood) can also be bent and shaped, allowing us to be more creative with our railing designs.

If we doubt our skills, or foresee the task taking up more than a couple of weekends, we might consider hiring a professional. But the actual construction of a simple deck (with boards running parallel to each other and the house) lies within the abilities of the average layman. To make our deck feel more like an integral part of our home, we can repeat architectural elements of the house in its design, or use built-in planter boxes or a gazebo to soften the transition between the two. Our goal will be to create a deck that is a natural extension of our house, one that serves as a bridge between the indoor and out.