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Following the code: what this means when building your dream home

When it comes to building your dream home, the sky's the limit and to you, anything goes. But what many people in Michigan don't realize is that there are certain building codes that must be adhered to in the process.

The general public is largely unaware of these building codes that can actually vary from state to state. Michigan has its own set of building codes that are based on the most recent version of the International Code Council but has accommodations for local laws and regulations.

For some projects, building permits may be needed that can dictate where things can be placed on a property, how large it can be and what safety standards need to be followed. There are a majority of projects that don't require permits though, such as repairs and maintenance, certain swings and playground equipment, and even shade cloth structures for agricultural purposes.

It is important to point out that even if a permit is not needed for renovation and construction projects, certain city building codes may limit the types of changes that are made. In some states, cities may have, for example, a maximum amount of glass allowed in a certain structure, which can cause problems for builders who want to give homeowner's complete access to particularly beautiful landscapes.

Not adhering to these strict building codes can sometimes lead to serious legal consequences down the road. Violators can be served with stop-work orders that can cease construction on any building or structure that is in direct conflict with current codes. Because building codes are constantly changing from year to year and from state to state, it is important for builders to make sure that they are up to date on current procedures to ensure that their structure is safe and in accordance with the law.

Anyone that has questions regarding building codes is encouraged to speak with someone well-versed in construction codes such as someone from the state department. Even someone knowledgeable in real estate litigation can be a helpful resource in situations such as this.

Source: The Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth, "Construction Code," Nov. 8, 2010

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