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Historical Philadelphia Building Code Research

Have a case where you need to find an older version of the Building Code for Philadelphia?  We can help.

The Philadelphia Code (hereafter referred to as the Code) was first published in 1956. The Building Code was codified at Title 4. At this time, a researcher only needed to consult Title 4 to see subject codified ordinances related to the Building Code for the city of Philadelphia. With a 1983 ordinance (Ordinances of the City of Philadelphia 1983, Bill #1956, p. 1679), Philadelphia adopted the Building Officials Code Administrators International (BOCA) Basic Building Code, Eigth Edition, 1981.  After this ordinance became effective, both the 1981 BOCA Code and Title 4 of the Code (for additions, deletions and amendments) had to be consulted. 

In our collection, Jenkins has versions of the Building Code prior to the adoption of 1983 Bill #1956, the ordinance itself, and the 1981 BOCA Basic Building Code. This gives researchers a view of the Building Code prior to and after the adoption of BOCA.

Although a new BOCA Code was published every three years, Philadelphia didn't necessarily adopt each BOCA.  If you are interested in a particular period of time, you will always need to check the appropriate edition of the Code to determine which edition of BOCA had been adopted during your time period. You would then look at Title 4 in the relevant edition of the Code for additions, deletions and amendments, as well as the relevant edition of BOCA.

In 2003 City Council adopted the 2003 International Building Code (Ordinances of the City of Philadelphia 2003, Bill #030779, p. 1689), which, once effective, was then used instead of BOCA.  Since then, several other editions of the International Building Code and The Philadelphia Code have been published. As with BOCA, not every edition of the International Building Code was adopted. You would consult the relevant edition of the Code (Title 4), as well as the relevant edition of the International Building Code for whatever time period is of interest.

In our Rare Book Room, Jenkins has kept all prior editions of the Code.  We also have every edition of BOCA and the International Building Code that the city has adopted since 1983. Even with all of these resources, Building Code research can sometimes be complicated. For example, during certain periods, the Code was published as a looseleaf.  Any of the looseleaf editions could have filings beyond the time period of interest to you.  The third edition, for example, was published in 1973, but includes updated filings through the 1980's. Between the editions of the Code and the Philadelphia Ordinances in our collection, though, we should still be able to help you pinpoint the Building Code to a particular period in time.

Need help?  Ask us.

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