One of the important responsibilities of governments all over the world is the protection of lives and properties of its citizens. A major way of achieving this is through the maintenance of law and order in all spheres of human endeavors. This explains the reason why, the provision of any infrastructural facility like buildings, which entails conception, planning, design, construction and maintenance, is not carried out arbitrary. It is supposed to be guided by rules and regulations. Standards in buildings are probably as old as man. The design as well as construction of buildings, is conditioned, in part, by the legal requirements itemized in the building regulations that seek to provide minimum requirements to safeguard life, health and public welfare and the protection of properties by regulating and controlling the entire building production process
The role of government, professionals and the general public in building production are complimentary. Government must enact laws and impose regulatory control, on buildings so as to ensure that they are located, designed, constructed and maintained, in such a way that is conducive to good health, safety and welfare of the citizens of a country. While on the other hand, professionals make sure that the implementation of such laws achieves the desired objectives or result, by making sure that they follow, strictly, the relevant provision of the code in their professional practice, draw attention to any deficiency in the appropriate laws, with a view to making suggestions for essential improvement
Nations all over the world recognized this fact and that is why each country has a statutory instrument which sets out the minimum requirements for the design, construction and maintenance of buildings for the purpose of protecting the health, safety and general welfare of the building users. This is what some countries such as the United Kingdom called Building Regulations/Building Bye Laws, depending on area of coverage. However, in Nigeria and the United State of America, it is called Building Code.
A Building code is a collection of laws, regulations and ordinances or other statutory requirements adopted by government or legislative authority, involved with the physical structure and welfare of building occupants. Building Code establish consistent minimum standards for the quality and durability of construction materials and building systems.
Almost every building function of any complexity, importance or size comes within the ambit of the regulations/Code and the controlling definition of ‘building work’. Besides, Building code embrace all aspects of building construction including fire and life safety issues, structural design, security, mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems minimum air quality, energy conservation and accessibility. A code provides safeguards to ensure uniformity. Three keywords were used in describing Building Code. These are: minimal, parameter and insurance; it is viewed as a minimal regulation for the protection of public health, safety and welfare, which is the basic charge to every design and construction professional.
Also, it is parameters that merit (and require) as much attention and consideration as any other programme parameter set on the project such as budgetary constraints, basic owner needs, project scope, interrelationships, etc. On the other hand, it is regarded as insurance both for the protection of life and for the safeguard of owners, who may, in any number of ways, be required to justify his project in a court of law someday. In which the client, and the professionals charged with the responsibility of building production, will be assessed based on the way various provisions of regulation so as to determine whether or not, they strictly follow it. Such regulations are not static, they must respond to changes in science, socio – economic political and technology. The development of Building Regulations in Britain spanned a period of over a century with numerous amendments being made over the years.
Enforcement of the provisions of Building Code will ensure quality, health, safety and proficiency in the building industry. This will reduce deaths, injuries, and property damage; enhance level and predictable playing field for designers, professional builders and suppliers. It assists in the regulation of energy used in buildings, control of solid waste and waste water in a building. In addition, it allows economics of scale in the production of building materials and construction of buildings thus leading to high quality and durable buildings. Building Code is needed in every society to take care of the risks posed by lack of uniformity, the use of defective construction materials, victims of poor construction, lack of enforcement of other legislations, and billions of annual loses, which, according to experts, 24 – 40% could be avoided if and only if the relevant provisions of Building Code are strictly followed in the planning, design, construction, operation/management and maintenance of buildings. .
NATIONAL BUILDING CODE NBC 2006
It is widely believed that the enforcement of most Building Codes was the afterthought of a tragedy. According to the chairman of Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria, CORBON, Professor Kabir Bala, there are various developments that necessitated the NBC 2006.The National Building Code 2006 evolved out of increasing concern on the abysmal condition of the built environment.
First, the Built environment in Nigeria, has suffered greatly from massive distortions evidenced by such disasters as flood disasters, unplanned cities, the ever growing traffic jams of the urban areas, the highly intimidating and very embarrassing records of building collapse, the unplanned and unregulated hence unsustainable use of construction materials, application of construction materials that are not durable, and/or compatible with our environment, participation of quack professionals and contractors in building production, etc. As an attempt to sanitize the construction process in Nigeria, committee of construction professionals was formed by the Federal Government to examine the problems and develop a draft National Building Regulation.
The aim of the Code is to provide the minimum standards to safeguard life and property and to guarantee public health and welfare by effectively regulating the processes of design, approval, construction, use and occupancy, location and maintenance of all buildings and structures taking into consideration the traditions and culture of, as well as the technological and economic circumstances in Nigeria. After deliberations, the National Building code popularly known as The National Building code, NBC 2006 was drafted. The NBC 2006 set out minimum standards on building pre-design, design, construction and post construction stages in order to guarantee good building practice – through the attainment of quality construction, safety and expertise.
National Building Code has put in place very important measures that will promote professionalism in the Nigerian building industry and make sure that each and every professional is accountable for his own deeds or misdeeds. This is because the code has clearly explained the duties and responsibilities of each and every professional. Besides that the code has emphasized the need for teamwork at various phases of building production and other important activities like building survey and preparation of dilapidation schedules. In addition, it has set effective means of monitoring, regulating, and imposing of standard in building construction.
by Dauda Dahiru Danwata
Danwata wrote this piece from Abuja
To be continued…