Commentary on Words/Terms Used in the Building Code

Originally published by the following source: SBC MagazineApril 29, 2019
by SBCA Staff with contributions by SBCA Professional Engineers


Good communication requires a common understanding of the words that we are using. As everyone knows, communication can easily become miscommunication when the same word is being used but the intent behind the words is different. The building code addresses how we should use words in Section 201 as follows:

201.1 Scope

Unless otherwise expressly stated, the following words and terms shall, for the purposes of this code, have the meanings shown in this chapter. 

201.2 Interchangeability

Words used in the present tense include the future; words stated in the masculine gender include the feminine and neuter; the singular number includes the plural and the plural, the singular. 

201.3 Terms defined in other codes

Where terms are not defined in this code and are defined in the International Energy Conservation CodeInternational Fuel Gas CodeInternational Fire CodeInternational Mechanical Code or International Plumbing Code, such terms shall have the meanings ascribed to them as in those codes. 

201.4 Terms not defined 

Where terms are not defined through the methods authorized by this section, such terms shall have ordinarily accepted meanings such as the context implies.

Fortunately, the building code is clear on how we should be managing words. When a word is not defined in the building code, yet needs a contextual definition, SBC Magazine will link to to provide a definition.   

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For additional information and commentary on the building code, please read the following articles: