Code compliance is without a doubt an important consideration when designing and installing roof systems. The requirements for most U.S. jurisdictions are based on the International Codes, or I-Codes, and the 2018 version is the most recent edition. Most low-slope roofing requirements are based on provisions in or referenced by Chapter 15 of the International Building Code® and Chapter 4[CE] of the International Energy Conservation Code.®

According to IBC,® the codes’ intent is to “establish the minimum requirements” of numerous criteria, which means code requirements are neither best practices nor the best level of performance as some may mistakenly assume. In my experience as a forensic architect, clients generally expect a level of performance beyond the minimum, especially when experienced contractors and roof system designers are involved.

The other important truths about code provisions are: Not all aspects of roof system design and installation that are important to achieve long-term performance are included in the codes, and not all provisions represent the same level of stringency.

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