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Most developed nations have a national building code in place. In fact, thousands of lives have been saved in tsunami-struck cities of Japan owing to strong and resistant building structures that didn’t give in to the impact. In Japan, where earthquakes are common, building codes are very stringent on specific matters, such as how much a building may sway during a quake and fire safety measures.

What is national building code

It is a set of guidelines meant to regulate construction activities in commercial as well as residential space across the country. The code presents a framework for all agencies involved in construction works, including public works departments, other government departments, private construction agencies and real estate developers.

The code contains administrative regulations, development control rules and general building requirements; fire safety requirements; structural design and construction (including safety); and building and plumbing services.

The Indian scenario

India has this code, the National Building Code of India (NBCI) was first published in 1970 by the Planning Commission and was later revised in 1983. Thereafter, it was amended in 1987 and 1997. It was last revised in 2005.

Salient provisions

If the guidelines in the revised code are followed, buildings will be able to stand challenges posed by natural calamities such as earthquakes and tsunami-like disasters.

The code requires that a certification for safety of building against natural disaster is obtained by a structural engineer. There is a provision for periodic renewal certificate of occupied buildings from structural, fire and electrical safety points of view.

The code includes detailed town planning norms for various amenities such as educational facilities, medical facilities, distribution services, police, civil defence and home guards and fire services. Provision for parking requirements for metro and mega cities have also been included in the revised code.

What it means for you

Initially, NBCI was a voluntary code. Later, it was made a part of the local building by-laws in most states, which have made it mandatory and enforceable. However, it’s still not applicable in some states.

If the code is applicable in your region, you can ask your developer to produce the fire safety certificate issued by the structural engineer at the time of possession. If you think that any of the safety norms have been violated, you can ask the developer to correct the problem. Barring a few states, most of the provisions stated in NBCI are mandatory for developers and construction agencies. When the construction of an apartment complex is over, the developer needs to obtain a completion certificate from the development authority and that happens only if the complex complies with the code.

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