Making the law available | Building Codes

By Paul Viau

How many of you (Architects, Engineers, Contractors and Attorneys) run into the situation where you need to do a code analysis for a code you don’t have? So then you have to go out and buy another $80 book to add to your shelf. If the building, plumbing or other code you’re using is law, and by law you need to design and build in accordance with the code/law referenced, shouldn’t the code be made available to you as a public document?

Some people think so, and there have been Judicial Rulings that support that position.

In furtherance of that position, a 501 (C) (3) nonprofit has made the codes available through their website. You might ask: Aren’t the codes copyrighted material? On their website at, the folks at take the position that “The courts have long held that the law is public domain and must be available to all for use without restriction. While numerous organizations have attempted to assert copyright over judicial branch opinions, legislative branch statutes, and executive branch regulations, the courts have not looked kindly on these efforts to place a private wrapper around a public package. If we are to be a nation of laws, those laws must be accessible to all.”

At the web link indicated above, you will find most of the 2007 California Codes related to construction. Here is the link to the 2010 California Codes and a further link to additional codes in many other states and cities

I’ve found this to be an extremely useful resource and you might too.