Have you ever heard of the ICC? It’s not an International Church Conference or the Ice Cream Convention. It’s the International Code Council and most of the building codes in the US and in other areas in the world are established by them. While you might not think that’s something you need to think about with your church design, the ICC building codes have been adopted by about 90% of state and local governments in this country and will likely govern the process of constructing your church building.

Overview of the ICC

The ICC building code (IBC) is over 700 pages and covers nine basic categories, including everything from exterior building height to interior finishes. In addition to the construction of your church building, it also codifies plumbing and mechanical elements used in a church design. There are even property maintenance codes (annual inspections) and codes that support energy conservation (iecc). The ICC is not the only code that affects these areas. There are other codes governing details of plumbing, electric, HVAC, fire suppressions, etc…

Basic Elements of the ICC that Affect Your Church Building

Here are some examples of how the ICC building codes affect your church building project. Take Construction Types, which refer to building materials. Are you constructing your church building out of wood, concrete, and/or steel? Each of those materials must meet different types and levels of fire separation or fire suppression requirements in order for your building to be approved for use.

Another ICC category is Use Groups. This code regulates how you’re going to use your building. If you’re constructing a worship facility, that falls under what ICC calls “assembly” use. The codes for assembly affect the size and types of construction in your church design. If you’re including a daycare in your church building plans, there are certain requirements that need to be met, such as the size of the room and how many and what types of exits you need to incorporate.

Building Accessibility into Your Church Design

Accessibility is also covered by ICC codes, although the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and American National Standard Institute (ANSI) governs this as well. For example, you could need to have multiple universally accessible egress areas for your church building. How this is enforced may differ from one state or municipality to another, so a lot depends on where you’re located.

Much of the building code is concerned with getting people safely out in case of a fire, emergency, or disaster. This means taking a careful look at each space in your church design and determining how people will move from one area to another.

As you can see, there are many areas of your church design that will be impacted by building codes. We know them well because we have worked with ICC and other codes since the ICC was adopted in the early 2000’s. If you have questions about how building codes might affect your church building design, give us a call at 800-625-6448. Also be sure to sign up for our next free i3 webinar to learn more about the church design and building process.