Utah Building Codes

Utah Building Codes

  • In Utah, earthquake building codes were enacted around 1975, but, it took a few years for them to be widely enforced. Also, in some cases designs were approved and permits issued before codes were enacted; in other cases it took designers and builders a few years to understand and implement code requirements.  Therefore, you may want to treat with extra caution any building constructed before about 1980.
  • Building codes have been improved several times since 1975. While exceptions exist, as a general rule, the newer the building the stricter the earthquake codes that it should have conformed to.
  • Utah now follows the International Building Code (IBC).
  • Earthquake building codes are designed primarily to save lives. In general, it is prohibitively expensive to construct a building that will not sustain any damage in severe shaking.  Earthquakes around the world of the last few decades have shown that even many buildings constructed to modern earthquake building codes experience some damage in a strong earthquake.  Nevertheless, compared to older buildings, fewer have to be condemned, repair costs are generally lower, they can usually be reoccupied sooner, and in general, many fewer deaths and serious injuries occur in newer buildings.

Important note: Most “standard” building inspectors commonly hired to inspect a building before a purchase are not trained in recognizing how well a building meets earthquake building codes.  For this service you may want to hire a properly trained structural engineer or builder.

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