The local government uses the California building code as a set of standards to be imposed on construction. In order to obtain a "Certificate of Occupancy" (which pronounces a building fit to inhabit), the building department inspects the construction project in order to ensure that it complies with California building code.
When a building is found lacking or short of the code standards, the inspector will require that corrections be made prior to a certificate being issued.
Building Code Construction laws date all the way back to ancient Babylon, but in ancient times, the inspectors of the construction put a heavy emphasis on penalties when faulty construction was evident. Beginning in the 19th century, cities started to incorporate building codes that put in place a set of requirements for new construction and the hiring of inspectors with a different goal in mind. The goal was geared more towards making sure the codes' standards were met rather than handing out punishments for faulty work.
California's first state building code was the 1909 State Tenement Housing Act. Later guidelines laid out specifics regarding interior toilets, windows facing the outside rather than a hallway, etc. Today's building codes have become much more precise. They go into much greater detail. They cover construction materials, the size of windows, the placement of electrical outlets or receptacles, the height of buildings, and the space required between buildings.
Organizations such as the International Code Council assist local governments in passing uniform building codes. Instead of generating building codes from scratch, local officials will access resources provided by such organizations in order to generate building code uniformity. The International Code Council (and other, similar organizations) draw up "model" codes that include what experience and time has shown to be the best rules. State groups like California's Building Standards Commission can then utilize model codes as their state standard. This gives cities and counties a basis for their own building codes. This doesn't mean that building codes are the same everywhere.
For instance, in California, rules are imposed regarding earthquake resistant construction because it is an issue applicable to the region. Florida, on the other hand, has building codes in place regarding coastal building structures resisting hurricane-force winds.
If you need additional information on California's Building Standards Commission, California Building Code or have specific questions about your property, contact the southern California real estate attorneys at The Law Office of Retz & Aldover LLP.