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Building Officials and Code Administrators
The Building Officials and Code Administrators International is an association of professionals employed in the establishment and enforcement of building codes, which are the rules and regulations that govern the design and construction of buildings. BOCA encourages cities and states to adopt uniform building codes, and promotes competence and professionalism in the enforcement of those codes.
The organization was established in 1915 by building officials from nine states and Canada. Their purpose was to provide a forum for the exchange of knowledge and ideas about building safety and construction regulation. In 1950, BOCA published the BOCA Basic Building Code. This was the organization's first model code. Within one year, the BOCA code had been adopted by fifty cities.
BOCA currently publishes a series of books called the BOCA National Codes, which contain detailed standards for all aspects of building construction. The section on stairways, for example, precisely describes the acceptable height, depth, and width of steps, and the proper placement and configuration of handrails necessary to ensure safety and ease of use. Separate volumes cover general construction, mechanical systems, plumbing, fire prevention, energy conservation, and other areas.
The codes published by BOCA do not in themselves have the force of law. They can be enforced only when they have been adopted by cities, states, or other government bodies with the authority to issue or withhold building permits. A city or state is free to adopt the BOCA codes in whole or in part.
BOCA's codes have been adopted by many states and cities in the eastern and midwestern United States. Other professional associations perform a similar function in other parts of the country, and publish their own building codes: the International Conference of Building Officials serves western states and publishes the Uniform Building Code, and the Southern Building Code Congress serves southern states and publishes the Standard Building Code. The three regional organizations are working together toward creating a single model code for the United States.
The publication of the codes is BOCA's most important function. The organization also publishes manuals, textbooks, and periodicals for its members. In addition, BOCA continually develops its model code to keep it up-to-date. It conducts regular training and education programs for its members and provides consultation services for local governments. BOCA disseminates information on the quality and acceptability of building materials and systems as well as on new construction techniques.
BOCA's membership consists largely of cities, towns, and government agencies. These "government members" are represented by individual officials who administer rules and regulations on construction, fire safety, property maintenance, development, and land use. A typical official of this kind is a building inspector with duties to examine building plans and make on-site inspections during construction. Contractors, manufacturers, and people in the architectural and engineering professions may also be members of BOCA.
BOCA is funded by the annual dues of its members and through the sale of its publications. It is based in Country Club Hills, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago.