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Flood Building Codes

The following documents provide information concerning the flood resistant provisions of the 2018, 2015, 2012, and 2009 International Codes® (I-Codes), the referenced standard American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) 24, Flood Resistant Design and Construction, and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) requirements.

The I-Codes can be purchased or viewed in read-only format at the International Code Council. ASCE 24 can be purchased from the ASCE Store.

Flood Resistant Provisions of the International Codes

These documents are compilations of flood resistant provisions, prepared by FEMA of the I-Codes. These include:

  • International Building Code
  • International Residential Code
  • International Exiting Building Code
  • International Mechanical Code
  • International Plumbing Code
  • International Fuel Gas Code
  • International Fire Code
  • International Swimming Pool and Spa Code
  • International Private Sewage Disposal Code and
  • International Code Council Performance Code.

Also included, as separate documents, are summaries of changes from the previous editions. The 2018, 2015, 2012, and 2009 editions of the I-Codes contain provisions that meet or exceed the minimum flood-resistant design and construction requirements of the National Flood Insurance Program for buildings and structures. FEMA and states use a standard checklist when reviewing local floodplain management regulations/ordinances to determine whether such regulations and ordinances are complete for the purpose of participating in the National Flood Insurance Program. The checklists for the I-Codes may also be used to guide floodplain managers, building officials and designers as they compare the flood provisions of the 2015 I-Codes and ASCE 24-14 to the minimum requirements of the National Flood Insurance Program. See link below for Highlights of ASCE 24 (ASCE 24 is a referenced standard in the 2015 IBC and IRC). 

American Society of Civil Engineers - Flood Resistant Design and Construction

The American Society of Civil Engineers maintains ASCE 24, a referenced standard in the I-Codes.  ASCE 24-14 is referenced in the 2015 International Building Code® (IBC) and the 2015 International Residential Code® (IRC). ASCE 24-05 is referenced in the 2012, 2009, and 2006 IBC and IRC. Buildings and structures within the scope of the IBC proposed to be constructed in flood hazard areas must be designed in accordance with ASCE 24. The IRC requires dwellings in floodways to be designed in accordance with ASCE 24 and permits use of ASCE 24. The 2015 IRC permits use of ASCE 24 for dwellings in any flood zone, while earlier editions permit its use in Zone V and Coastal A Zones. The requirements of ASCE 24 meet or exceed the NFIP requirements for buildings and structures in special flood hazard areas. Separate documents summarizing ASCE 24-05 and ASCE 24-14 include the following topics: Building Performance; Flood-Damage Resistant Materials; Utilities and Service Equipment; and Siting Considerations.

Reducing Flood Losses Through the International Codes

Developed by the International Code Council and FEMA, this guide helps state and local officials integrate the International Codes® (I-Codes) into their current floodplain management regulatory processes related to coordinate with structures, buildings, and other development in special flood hazard areas in order to meet the requirements to participate in the National Flood Insurance Program. 

  • Chapter 2 describes three approaches for coordinating the I-Codes and local floodplain management regulations and identifies a number of advantages and considerations when relying on the flood provisions of the codes.
  • Chapter 3 explains several differences between the National Flood Insurance Program regulations and the I-Code requirements related to specific terminology and provisions. Many requirements in the codes exceed National Flood Insurance Program’s minimum requirements.  In some references, there are provisions which are more specific than the National Flood Insurance Program, especially in the International Building Code®, which references ASCE 24, Flood Resistant Design and Construction. 
  • Chapter 4 contains questions for States and communities to answer to know whether and how to modify existing floodplain management regulations the I-Codes.
  • Chapter 5 describes modifications that can be adopted to incorporate higher standards in the I-Codes to further increase resistance to flood damage.
  • Chapter 6 introduces model code-coordinated ordinances prepared by FEMA.

Comparing NFIP and “Higher Standards” in Building Codes

These fact sheets summarize the flood-resistant provisions of the 2021 International Codes (I-Codes) and American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) 24-14, Flood Resistant Design and Construction, that are “higher standards” and that are more specific than National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) requirements.

The first fact sheet provides a detailed comparison of NFIP and the I-Code “higher standards.” The second fact sheet provides a summary comparison of the NFIP and more significant I-Code “higher standards.”

Comparison of Select NFIP & Building Code Requirements for Special Flood Hazard Areas

This guide illustrates the similarities and highlights the differences between the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) minimum requirements and the requirements of the International Codes® (I-Codes®) and ASCE 24, Flood Resistant Design and Construction, a standard referenced by the I-Codes. Separate documents for the 2018 I-Codes (ASCE 24-14) and the 2012 I-Codes (ASCE 24-05) use illustrations to highlight some of the key similarities and differences between foundation types, lowest floor elevations, enclosures below elevated buildings and utilities requirements contained within the NFIP and I-Codes for most residential and commercial buildings.

Uniform Codes by IAPMO

These documents contain Flood Resistant Provisions of the 2018, 2015 and 2012 editions of codes published by the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officers (IAPMO): the Uniform Mechanical Code; Uniform Plumbing Code; Uniform Swimming Pool, Spa and Hot Tub Code; and Uniform Solar, Hydronics and Geothermal Code (Uniform Solar Energy Code prior to 2018).

CodeMaster for Flood Resistant Design (2011, 2015)

The CodeMaster provides designers with an easy-to-use desk reference that identifies the flood provisions in the International Building Code® (IBC®) and International Residential Code® (IRC®), as well as the flood requirements of American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) standards ASCE 7 and ASCE 24. There are two versions of the Flood CodeMaster – one for the 2015 IBC and IRC, ASCE 7-10 and 24-14, the other for the 2009/2012 IBC and IRC, ASCE 7-05/7-10 and 24-05. The CodeMaster is a unique and useful tool for designers to make sure that they incorporate the flood-resistant provisions of these codes and standards. The guide provides sections on preliminary considerations and design process, key flood terminology, a 12-step process to incorporate flood resistance in the design of a building, an example showing the 12-step process being executed and information on additional FEMA mitigation resources related to flood-resistant design. The document also uses illustrations to ensure a clear understanding for users in the professional community. These guides can be purchased from the International Code Council.

National Flood Insurance Program’s Building Standards

This sub-study evaluates the NFIP building standards, including a review of flood loss and damage data for structures and communities and calculation of costs and benefits of modifying NFIP building standards across defined ranges of flood conditions and building configurations, differentiated by flood hazard zone.

This document provides a supplement analysis to the 2006 Evaluation of the National Flood Insurance Program’s Building Standards. The purpose of this document is to determine the cost-effectiveness of including freeboard within the foundation height of new residential buildings constructed in floodplains and to establish which factors should be considered when determining how many feet above the minimum NFIP-required elevation a house should be constructed in order to maximize cost-effectiveness.

Code Compatibility Report and Appendices

FEMA 296, 297, and 298 comprise the Code Compatibility Report and its appendices. This report provides a comparison between the NFIP technical guidelines and standards and the model code and standards in place in 1992. The report's recommendations provide a basis for coordinating NFIP documents with model code and standards. This report is a resource document.

Last updated June 7, 2021