Codes are legally enforceable regulations for the design, fabrication, construction and installation of buildings and materials, adopted to ensure universal adherence to public health and safety requirements. When governmental bodies adopt a standard and make it legally enforceable, or when it has been incorporated into a business contract, the standard becomes a code. Codes also refer out to standards or specifications for the specific details on additional requirements that are not specified in the code.
Codes are primarily developed by the nonprofit International Code Council (ICC), a cooperative organization of experts and practitioners. The ICC writes and updates the International Codes (also known as I-Codes) on subjects including building design, fire safety, plumbing and zoning that are then adopted by countries, states, counties or municipalities. I-Codes are reviewed and updated on a three-year cycle, but new codes do not automatically become adopted as law unless the governing body then votes to do so.