Regulations stall construction tech

Part 3: Living by the building code

Last time, we looked at some building code requirements that routinely trip up do-it-yourselfers. As arcane as some of the code’s provisions might seem, practically every one of them exists to ensure health and safety, and many were gleaned from over a century of knowledge hard won from real-life incidents, many of them both tragic and unnecessary.

Because building codes — and this includes plumbing, mechanical, electrical and fire codes — are primarily concerned with health and safety, they’re by nature conservative and slow to change. There’s little incentive for the councils who collectively author the various codes to adopt new technologies that make construction cheaper, faster or more efficient, since these things aren’t directly related to safety. Hence, the code generally ignores technical innovations until there’s overwhelming pressure from the trades, the design professions or manufacturers to incorporate them.