Local governments often make building codes available online, but the codes can always be accessed by going to the offices of the department, often called the Planning Department, in charge of building codes. Consult with a staff member about the building codes in person to avoid unnecessary fines or fees.
Many counties, cities, and towns offer free permit counter services to help professionals and individuals understand the zoning and building codes before beginning their projects. An individual may or may not need a permit for home improvement projects, but she should consult with permit counter staff first to know for certain.
Local governments write building codes in technical language and often publish hundreds of pages of codes. The permit counter staff can help a person interpret the building codes and understand the steps needed to legally and safely complete a home improvement project. Prepare for the meeting with permit counter staff by reading through the sections of the building codes relevant to the project. Create as detailed a plan as possible for the project based on the building codes and the goals of the project. Permit counter staff are able to give more valuable feedback if they are able to see plans for the project.