New provisions in the 2024 edition of the IRC allow for sleeping lofts of less than 70 square feet, with access from a ship’s ladder or alternating-tread staircase, as shown here. Roe Osborn

While the International Residential Code is in use or adopted by reference in 49 out of the 50 U.S. states (hello, Wisconsin?), the edition and amendments that apply to you are up to your state or local government. That’s because while the International Code Council cyclically updates the IRC and other model codes every three years, state and local governments don’t often adopt new codes as regularly as the model codes are created. As a result, there are a variety of editions of the IRC that have been adopted across the U.S.

Because state- and local-government-adopted codes are the ones that ultimately affect builders the most, I am often asked, “Why should I care about a future edition of the model IRC?” The answer is simple—the present used to be the future, so the future will become the present. How can I encourage your American civic duty to participate in your governments’ future code adoption choices if you aren’t aware of what they are choosing from?

As of this writing, the final version of the 2024 IRC is awaiting committee certification. The information presented in this article isn’t going to be entirely useful to you until tomorrow becomes today, or until you decide to help guide your government toward what tomorrow will become. Building codes follow the will of society, and society always has trends. Code proposals are created by people, and those people often address current social trends in the codes.

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