Internationally, code officials and design professionals recognize the need for a modern, up-todate
building code addressing the design and installation of building systems through
requirements emphasizing performance. The International Building Code® (IBC®) meets this
need by providing model code regulations that safeguard the public health and safety in all
communities, large and small. The 2021 IBC Illustrated Handbook is a valuable resource for
those who design, plan, review, inspect, or construct buildings or other structures regulated by
the 2021 IBC.
The IBC is one of a family of codes published by the International Code Council® (ICC®) that
establishes comprehensive minimum regulations for building systems using prescriptive and
performance-related provisions. It is founded on broad-based principles that use new materials
and new building designs. Additionally, the IBC is compatible with the entire family of
International Codes® published by the ICC.
There are three major subdivisions to the IBC:
The text of the IBC
The referenced standards listed in Chapter 35
The first 34 chapters of the IBC contain both prescriptive and performance provisions that are
to be applied. Chapter 35 contains those referenced standards that, although promulgated and
published by separate organizations, are considered part of the IBC as applicable. The provisions
of the appendices do not apply unless specifically included in the adoption ordinance of the
jurisdiction enforcing the code.
The 2021 IBC Illustrated Handbook is designed to present commentary only for those
portions of the code for which commentary is helpful in furthering the understanding of the
provision and its intent. This handbook uses many drawings and figures to help clarify the
application and intent of many code provisions.
The handbook examines the intent and application of many provisions for both the
nonstructural- and structural-related aspects of the IBC. It addresses in detail many requirements
that are considered as “fire- and life-safety” provisions of the code. Found in IBC Chapters 3
through 10, these provisions focus on the important considerations of occupancy and type of
construction classification, allowable building size, fire and smoke protection features, fire
protection systems, interior finishes, and means of egress.
The discussion of the structural provisions in this handbook is intended to help code users
understand and properly apply the requirements in Chapters 16 through 23 of the 2021 IBC.
Although useful to a broad range of individuals, the discussion of the structural provisions was
written primarily so that building officials, plans reviewers, architects, and engineers can get a
general understanding of the IBC’s structural requirements and gain some insight into their
underlying basis and intent.