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Home > Acts and Regulations > National Building Code
National Building Code

What is a building code?
National Building CodeA building code is a document containing standardized requirement for the design & construction of most types of building. Codes regulate building construction & building use in order to protect the health, safety & welfare of the occupant. Codes express all aspects of construction including structural integrity, fire resistance, safe exists, lighting, electrical, energy conservation, plumbing, sanitary facilities, ventilation, seismic design & correct use of construction materials.

Building codes classify standard by use & apply different standards to each classification. For example, schools & office buildings are in separate occupancy category with different performance requirement.

What is national building code?
The National Building Code is a single document in which, like a network, the information contained in various Indian Standards is woven into a pattern of continuity and cogency with the interdependent requirement of sections carefully analyzed and fitted in to make the whole document a cogent continuous volume. A continuous thread of preplanning is woven which, in itself, contributes considerably to the economies in construction particularly in building and plumbing services.

Glimpse in the history
Construction programmes are interwoven in a large measure in all sectors of development, be it housing, transport, industry, irrigation, power, agriculture, education or health. Construction, both public and private, accounts for about fifty percent of the total outlay in any Plan. Half of the total money spent on construction activities is spent on buildings for residential, industrial, commercial, administrative, educational, medical, and municipal and entertainment uses. It is estimated that about half of the total outlay on buildings would be on housing. In a five-year Plan of, say Rs. 1,560 billion, about Rs. 780 billion would be spent on construction generally, of which about Rs. 390 billion would be on buildings of various types and occupancies. It is imperative that for such a large national investment, optimum returns are assured and wastage in construction is avoided.

Soon after the Third Plan, the Planning Commission decided that the whole gamut of operations involved in construction, such as administrative, organizational, financial and technical aspects, be studied in depth. For this study, the Planning Commission appointed a Panel of Experts in 1965 and its recommendations be found in the `Report on Economies in Construction Costs` published in 1968.

One of the facets of building construction, namely, controlling and regulating buildings through municipal byelaws and departmental handbooks received the attention of the Panel and a study of these regulatory practices revealed that some of the prevailing methods of construction are outmoded; some designs are overburdened with safety factors and there are other design criteria which, in the light of newer techniques and methodologies, could be rationalized; and building byelaws and regulations of municipal bodies which largely regulate the building activity in the country wherever they exit, were outdated. They did not cater to the use of new building materials and the latest developments in building designs and construction techniques. It also became clear that these codes and byelaws lacked uniformity and they were more often than not `specification oriented` and not `performance oriented`.

These studies resulted in a recommendation that a National Building Code be prepared to unify the building regulations throughout the country for use by government departments, municipal bodies and other construction agencies.

Establishment & Nature
The Planning Commission with the preparation of the National Building Code entrusted the Indian Standards Institution. For fulfilling this task a Guiding Committee for the preparation of the Code was set up by the Civil Engineering Division Council in 1967. This Committee, in turn, set up 18 specialist panels to prepare the various parts of the Code. The Guiding Committee and its panels were constituted with architects, town planners, materials experts, structural, construction, and electrical illumination, air conditioning, acoustics and public health engineers. These experts were drawn from the Central and State Governments, local bodies, professional institutions and private agencies. The first version of the Code was published in 1970.

After the National Building Code was published in 1970, a vigorous implementation drive was launched by the ISI to propagate the contents and use of the Code among all concerned in the field of planning, designing and construction activities. For this, State-wise implementation conferences were organized with the participation of the leading engineers, architects, town planners, administrators, building material manufacturers, building and plumbing services installation agencies, contractors, etc.

These conferences have been useful in getting across the contents of the Code to the interests concerned. These conferences have also helped in the establishment of Action Committees to look into the actual implementation work carried out by the construction departments, local bodies and other agencies in different States. The Action Committees representing all interests in individual States met regularly to review and consider the action required leading to the actual adoption of the Code. The main actions taken by the Action Committees were to revise and modernize their existing regulatory media, such as specifications, hand books, manuals, etc, as well as building byelaws of local bodies like municipalities at city and town levels, zilla parishads, panchayats and development authorities, so as to bring them in line with the provisions contained in the National Building Code. Arising out of this, considerable progress has been made by most of the states in revising their building byelaws with the assistance of ISI.

Some of the byelaws of corporations, municipalities and other local bodies in the States of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, West Bengal, Union Territory of Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana were redrafted to bring them in line with National Building Code and submitted to the respective Governments. These are under various stages of consideration.

Some of the State Construction Departments like Public Works Departments have set up Cells to look into the revision of PWD Specifications and Codes to align them with the National Building Code and other related Indian Standards.

In spite of the best efforts by all concerned to implement the Code, the revised building byelaws finalized in many states have not yet been adopted by the concerned implementing/enforcing agencies due to procedural bottlenecks. Efforts are necessary at Government level to overcome the difficulties in revising building byelaws and PWD specifications and adopting them in practice, reflecting the present state of knowledge on various aspects of building construction.

Since the publication in 1970 of the National Building Code, a large number of comments and useful suggestions for modifications and additions to different parts and sections of the Code were received as a result of use of the Code by all concerned, and revision work of building byelaws of some states. In addition, a number of Indian Standards have been prepared over the past 13 years and a large number of Indian Standards on which some parts/sections of the Code were based have undergone substantial modifications, particular mention may be made of revisions to Concrete Code, Earthquake Code and Masonry Code. The revised version of the National Building Code has been prepared taking into consideration all the aspects mentioned above.

The Code contains regulations, which can be immediately adopted or enacted for use by various departments, municipal administrations and public bodies. It lays down a set of minimum provisions designed to protect the safety of the public with regard to structural sufficiency, fire hazards and health aspects of buildings; so long as these basic requirements are met, the choice of materials and methods of design and construction is left to the ingenuity of the architect and the engineer. The Code also covers aspects of administrative regulations, development control rules and general building requirements; fire protection requirements; stipulations regarding materials and structural design; rules for design of electrical installations, lighting, air-conditioning and lifts; regulation for ventilation, acoustics and plumbing services, such as water supply, drainage, sanitation and gas supply; measures to ensure safety of workers and public during construction; and rules for erection of signs and outdoor display structures.

Some other important points covered by the Code include `industrialized system of building` and `architectural control`. The increase in population in the years to come will have a serious impact on the housing problem. It has been estimated that the urban population of India will double itself in the next two decades and consequently at least as much additional accommodation as is now available has to be provided during this period. Speed of construction is thus of an utmost importance and special consideration has to be given to industrialized systems of building. With increased building activity, it is also essential that there should be some architectural control in the development of our cities and towns if creation of ugliness and slum-like conditions in our urban areas is to be avoided.

The changes incorporated in the present Code have been specified in the Foreword to each part/section of the Code. Some of the important changes are: addition of development control rules, requirements for greenbelts and landscaping including norms for plantation of shrubs and trees, special requirements for low income housing; fire safety regulations for high rise buildings; revision of structural design section based on new and revised codes, such as concrete codes (plain and reinforced concrete and pre-stressed concrete), Earthquake Code, Masonry Code; addition of outside design conditions for important cities in the country, requirements relating to noise and vibration, air filter, automatic control, energy conservation for air-conditioning; and guidance on the design of water supply system for multi-storeyed buildings.

The Code as now published is the second version representing the present state of knowledge on various aspects of building construction. The process of preparation of the Code has thrown up a number of problems; some of them have been answered fully and some partially. Therefore, a continuous programme is envisaged by which additional knowledge that is gained through technological evolution, users views over a period of time pinpointing areas of clarification and coverage and results of research in the field, would be incorporated in to the Code from time to time to make it a living document. It is proposed to bring out changes to the Code periodically.

Provision of the Code will serve as a model for adoption by PWDs and other government construction departments, local bodies and other construction agencies. Existing PWD codes, municipal byelaws and other regulatory media could either be replaced by the National Building Code or suitably modified to cater to local requirements in accordance with the provisions of the Code. Any difficulties encountered in adoption of the Code could be brought to the notice of the Guiding Committee for Corrective Action.

List Of Standards
The following list records those standards, which are acceptable as `good practice`, and `accepted standards` in the fulfillment of the requirements of the Code. The latest version of a standard shall be adopted at the time of enforcement of the Code. The standards listed may be used by the Authority as a guide in conformance with the requirements of the referred clauses in the Code.

In the following list the number appearing in the first column within parentheses indicates the number of the reference in this Part.

  1. IS: 8888-1978 Guide for requirements of low income housing 

  2. IS: 6313 Code of practice for anti-termite measures in buildings: IS: 6313 (Part I)-1971 Part I Constructional measures IS: 6313 (Part II)-1971 Part II Pre-constructional chemical treatment measures IS: 6313 (Part III)-1971 Part III Treatment for existing buildings 

  3. IS: 3792-1978 Guide for heat insulation of non-industrial buildings (first revision) 

  4. IS: 1634-1973 Code of practice for design and construction of wood stairs in houses (first version) 

  5. IS: 4838 Anthropometrics dimensions for school children: IS: 4838 (Part I) - 1969 Part I Age group 5 to 11 years IS: 4838 (Part II) - 1969 Part II Age group 12 to 16 years 

  6. IS: 4963-1968 Recommendations for buildings and facilities for the physically handicapped.

Pls note: the above-mentioned information is listed as per the second addition of the national building code.

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