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Lee Wallender

International Building Code 2012 (IBC) Free Download

By September 22, 2009

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Information is, apparently, not meant to be free.

Because just try finding building codes online for free.  The problem is that the International Building Code (IBC) is administered by a group called the International Code Council.  I really don't know if the ICC is a for-profit organization, but I grudgingly accept that they have costs to cover.

But over $100 for a book?  Can't you people deliver a cheap, electronic version of the IBC online?  Contractors and DIY homeowners are just trying to read the thing so they can save lives, is all.

Rant over.

A site called Scribd has always been a good source for free online building codes, voluntarily scanned by certain individuals who don't pay a lot of attention to issues of copyrights.  I'm not even going to link directly to the IBC because I'm sure the link will be taken down before long.  But you can find it.  The IBC is adopted by states and changed accordingly, but it can give you the basics of things like bathroom code.

Finally, Archive.org is a great resource for all kinds of great stuff--movies, pictures, etc.--as well as many free state and local building codes.



Important Update:

Here is a free download of the International Building Code (IBC) 2012.


July 30, 2010 at 9:49 am
(1) badair says:
September 20, 2010 at 1:01 pm
(2) Mike says:

It is not reasonable to expect the publishers to provide their product for free. Hard-hats, scaffolding, and safety harnesses protect lives, too, but their manufactures can’t afford to give them away, either. The ICC is a real organization, with real expenses and numerous professional contributors including testing agencies.

BUT (and, this will be more to your liking)… there is some legitimate controversy regarding the copyright of building code: The IBC is rightfully copyrighted, but when adopted by a public authority, it effectively becomes the public law of that jurisdiction, which in some cases may make their code available online. For example, New York City once had it’s own unique code, but subsequently published a code that was modeled directly from the IBC – and they published it online. They may not be the only municipality that publishes its’ adopted IBC code online. Happy Hunting.

September 20, 2010 at 4:14 pm
(3) Mike says:

The 2009 IBC is available online (free) at the following link:


This is NOT an amended version as adopted by a permitting authority.

September 30, 2010 at 5:50 am
(4) NRF says:

The IBC is a code book, and doesn’t provide information in a simplified manner. Expecting to turn to the chapter for “Bathroom codes” is not always that simple. There are some areas that describe the number of plumbing fixtures and requirements for venting, but there are also requirements for accessibility which are covered in detail under the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards. The book was designed for the building official, professional designer or engineer, not the average homeowner.

January 31, 2011 at 11:13 am
(5) Pam says:

I had to chuckle when I read this. I was on the internet looking for the same thing just to clarify a question and was very frustrated when all I could find were books costing anywhere from $100-$250. I do believe that codes adopted by our government put in place to help protect the public and are law, need to be acceptable through our government sites for free. We are forced to conform to a law we can not see/read until we pay…how does that make any sense. We can read the ADA codes for free, this should be the same thing.

February 21, 2011 at 12:15 pm
(6) ted says:

I agree with Pam . We cannot conform to the rules if we are not given the rules first . Vital information should be made available for free .

June 11, 2011 at 10:13 am
(7) Retlaw says:

The courts have ruled that when these documents get used in law and regulations then they go into the public domain. You can scan them, publish them, read them, etc. Rules, regulations and laws must be freely accessible to the public. It’s that simple.

October 7, 2011 at 9:43 am
(8) charles vaden says:

how about this, the ADA is a disability law with standards that are mandatory to all buildings. It is not a code,it is a civil rights law, so does the local town inspector have any say so about ADA conforming to the standards of an old existing building that does not conform!!?? NO! complaints must be filed with the DOJ, and you will never get a reply or answer, so how is the problem resolved!!??LAW SUIT.

December 1, 2011 at 2:38 am
(9) Joe says:

$100 is not expensive for a code book if you actually think that YOU need it. Don’t want to pay that? Feel free to hire a professional that already decided it was a worthwhile investment.

December 1, 2011 at 12:40 pm
(10) Ikki says:

“how about this, the ADA is a disability law with standards that are mandatory to all buildings. It is not a code,it is a civil rights law, so does the local town inspector have any say so about ADA conforming to the standards of an old existing building that does not conform!!?? …..
the Misunderstanding of this attitude is the belief that when Laws are brought into effect they have the power to “BACK DATE”, they only take effect for new construction…

Building Codes are changed but only the code that was in effect at the time of construction/Building permit are in effect for said building, if and when renovations happen, then newer Building Codes take effect for areas covered in the renovations…

eg. a Building built in 1912 without an Elevator is covered in 1912, if a Elevator is added in 1936, then all related changes to accomodate the elevator is covered under the code of the time. If a wheel chair ramp is added in 1974, that code covers the area effected, BUT not the Elevator…

Imagine being told your vintage car built in 1920 must be updated to ALL 2012 safety standards before being able to drive it. and This is after you spent large amounts of Money to Restore to factory condition (the Code at the time) …

Or Imagine that you must update your Great-Great-Great Great Grandmothers Wedding ring to 2012 metalugical standards before being able to use it for your dream wedding….

February 25, 2012 at 1:56 am
(11) Mel Johnson says:

Thank you so much for the info. You have no idea how much that helped.

April 26, 2012 at 3:07 am
(12) Ivan Fireman says:

Yes, you are rirgt (Mel Johnson)… (Moscow, Russia)

June 6, 2012 at 9:24 pm
(13) mike says:

Each state is required to make the amended versions of the code available to the public for FREE. It’s not that difficult to track down. I live in Portland an work in Oregon and Washington. Find the code at




respectively. However, the application of the codes are troublesome for laypersons – no disrespect – but your contractor/architect/building official/fire marshall team all have experience and expertise that bear on the correct interpretation of the code. Finally, ICC has to pay the bills somehow, get over it!!

Either pay up for a hard copy or find your state code online or, better yet, hire a pro.

August 13, 2012 at 6:17 pm
(14) John says:

It isn’t for the Citizen to pay for access to the law. The code, like any other law has to be free. The fact that one didn’t have free access to the law is a perfect defense in court if the government comes against you. Always make the government employee show you the law. He won’t charge you for it. He can’t!

August 16, 2012 at 11:10 am
(15) Jason Wagner says:

Try the following link. You can click “States” or “International” for IBC


its got multiple years all for free right on the ICC website.


September 14, 2012 at 1:58 pm
(16) Dan says:

This is a great discussion. As an architect, I pay several hundred dollars each year for books and other resources required for me to do my job. We use them everyday. People pay me to design buildings that comply with ALL the codes and regulaitons.
As a major DIYer, I seek out advice and resources to allow me to complete a project. I pay for some, i seek freebies as often as possible. I offer advice to others. i try to get paid for as much as possible but respect the DIY attitude and provide some for free. People that ‘barrow’ my books and seek their own answers are always rewarded with a free over view or a head start in where to look. The books are complicated and the answers are spread out over several sections, even multiple books.
IBC is a very large machine, way too big in my opinion. They now have a monoloy on the code world and have now taken over testing and certification as well. They require a certification, get paid to have the test run, then require bi-annual inspections and retesting to maintain compliance. They are a self-fulfilling proficy and make a lot of money in the process.
For DIYers, contact a local architect in a small office. Tell them what you want to do. He/She may help for free or a nominal fee; times are very tough – all around. Don’t expect something for nothing, enless they only let you ‘barrow’ a book. After you spend 3 or 4 hours and still not find what you are looking for, $100 for a couple of hours of their time will be cheap. The second and third questions will be free, however.

September 20, 2012 at 4:58 pm
(17) charles vaden says:

the ADA is a civil rights law with standards, it went into affect in 1990 however Federal Govt. realy does not inforce it unless they get a complaint from some one who has a disability, new buildings automaticall are supposed to have all the ADA accomodations included in the construction but sometimes they come up short,
so how does some one enforce the ADA, file a law suit seems to be the only way anything can get done, and yes buildings older than 1990 must comply, no excuses.

October 2, 2012 at 3:37 pm
(18) goober says:

In the IBC 2009, Appendix A, does the building official/inspector have to have individual trades’ certifications, or would hiring a PE supercede all of that? Inquiring HR minds want to know! ;-) Thanks!

November 5, 2012 at 11:03 am
(19) Robert says:

I followed the link provided by Mike to the 2009 IBC. It was indeed the IBC, but to find the specific answer to my question seems to be a formidable task. I have a building with 2×6 floor joists in an attic 16″ o.c. Is it acceptable (codewise) to sister up to these with additional 2×6 glued & screwed so that the floor construction will pass an inspection. The space in question is going to become a master bedroom/bath. The max span of any existing joist is under 14′.

November 5, 2012 at 4:59 pm
(20) Atomahutna says:

@ robert – Forget the IBC. You might find the some span tables in the IRC (international residential code), but it really needs to be designed by a professional. With the rafters at 16″ on center, a rough calculation indicates that you couldn’t meet code with double joists, but triple would work. Deflection is the problem, so it might be better to sister on a deeper joist like a 2×8.

November 21, 2012 at 2:01 pm
(21) Robert says:

@ Atomahutna, thanks for that suggestion. I have reached the same conclusion by checking the deflection tables at AWC.
As for the link to the IBC 2009, chapter 27 which is titled “Electrical” contains nothing more than a few pages about standby electrical. Where is all the other information regarding electrical found? Is this a watered down version of IBC 2009?

December 12, 2012 at 5:01 pm
(22) Keith says:

The complete set of building and international codes are available on the icc website here http://publicecodes.cyberregs.com/icod/index.htm

December 13, 2012 at 8:59 am
(23) Al Pollard says:

If the code is the law, how can the law be copyrighted. Maybe charging people to find out the law could be a new way to balance the budget.

May 2, 2013 at 7:26 am
(24) intrigued says:
June 17, 2013 at 2:12 pm
(25) Randy says:

There seems to be a little confusion here. A building code is not a law. ADA legislation is a law and as such is not reviewed for compliance by local or state building officials, but enforced through the court system. States adopted accessibility codes that are based on the ADA legislation and all “new” construction are subject to those codes and reviewed for compliance by local and state building departments along with local and state fire marshals.

July 29, 2013 at 4:17 pm
(26) Olivia says:

I actually found a free version of the 2009 icc ibc


August 6, 2013 at 2:06 pm
(27) Edmond J. says:

Hey, I found a link to a place where you can read the !BC 2009 for free, and it is in a format where you can search for content or flip page to page:


September 12, 2013 at 11:41 pm
(28) Rick says:

The code books should be ava to everyone. A homeowner should not be expected to hire a professional to tell him what codes his city wants him to adhere to. Another thing when you buy the new book your buying the same information you bought last time with a few changes. That’s like taxing a car every time it gets sold. I’ll bet the state has collected sales tax three times on my 1996 caravan. Same thing with these code books.

October 9, 2013 at 3:16 pm
(29) Peter Strauhal says:


Building Codes are law. For the Oregon Codes, Page 1 in the OSSC states “The scope of this code is as provided in ORS 455.010(1).” By Law, the OSSC is the regulatory reference standard that local and state jurisdictions must enforce. It is the law of how a building, perscriptively, or through performance, must structurally and otherwise function at a minimum.

I am an architect and I think they should be free, just sayin’. ICC be damned, the code costs money to develop, etc. It should be free. It just should be. Any argument by default loses ’cause I said so, and ’cause it’s just a stupid argument. Make the text available online (like it is in the link of the very first comment, thanks badair) ’cause people need to know what’s required. Just because you need a doctor for your body or your building or your lawsuit doesn’t mean the science of medicine, construction, or laws are only available to said doctor. They’re available to everyone. Duh…

That said, they ARE available in a restricted manner on local and national organization websites, but personally I think the restrictions aren’t necessary. They’re just annoying.

Anyway, check out Scribd.com or Bulk.Resource.Org for the free unrestricted codes or go to iccsafe.org for the free restricted ones.

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