I am about to close on the purchase of a small (1000sqft) cottage which, although it is habitable, is in desperate need of some tender love & care.
I am an avid DIY nut and have have already done some significant renovations to my previous house - in many cases fixing previous sub-standard work.

This time, although I am reasonably confident that I am capable of recognizing & performing good work which is safe & does the job, I want to to things 'by the book'.

So my question comes down to: do I really need to read & familiarize myself with all of the official 'code' documentation like the NFPA 70 Electrical Code and the ICC Building codes (with local/state amendments), or is there a more user-friendly, but still comprehensive source of information.
To be clear, I'm not so much looking for 'how-to-do' info as I am looking for 'what are the required standards' info.

My location is Georgia, USA.

  • 1
    There may be exceptions to the code for your state so finding those out can save hundreds of dollars. In Oregon I think there are close to 100 exceptions to the 2014 NEC. I remember someone on this site saying their state was using the 2008 NEC within the last month.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 19:24

4 Answers 4


I like the Code-Check line of documents if you want the cliff-notes version of the codes. Like this one here.

You should still get a copy of the International Residential Code if that is what your state or municipality uses. Just for a more in depth reference. You don't have to read it cover to cover but you may want the full version since Code-Check makes references to articles and sections.

Good luck with your project!

  • FYI the IRC and NEC codes are available for free online, so nobody needs to go without them. Local amendments are also easy to find online.
    – Hank
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 15:58

There are guide books out there that help familiarize yourself with the codes, in easy forms. I know that the NEC (Electrical code) sells a handbook that breaks down and pulls out the important bits with pictures and additional information. It can be useful. Then there are also the Mike Holt books on understanding the NEC.

I'll just include this picture here as an example from a Mike Holt book:

Preview picture

To answer your question more clearly; yes, there are ways to learn the code without reading over every little bit of it and trying to cram it in. Then, like Ben said, an inspector would check everything. It's best to know how to do it right the first time though.

  • 1
    Pictures can help, but that particular picture seem to unnecessarily complicate a relatively simple bit of code. Why do I care that you store toilet paper on the bottom shelf? :)
    – DA01
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 16:35
  • @DA01 Haha. The point is to read what's at the top (the code being referenced) and what's directly being called out (a receptacle not GFCI protected). The rest is just to add surrounding like you'd see in the real world and have to figure out.
    – TFK
    Commented Mar 23, 2016 at 12:13

The Use & Occupancy Certificate is what you'll ultimately be after. But, the bigger benefit in dealing with the Local Building Dept. is to get their cheat-sheets or guidelines. These layout what they're expecting to find.

Their Guidelines should be something like this list or formatted similar to a document like this. Also, you may find it easier to consolidate & organize The Codes to specific rooms or areas by adding edits to images like below.

You'd following this same organization & quick reference model for Roofing, Plumbing, Framing, Stairs, Concrete & Pavements, Insulation, Attic Venting, Retaining Walls or whatever the place gets you into.

Kitchen wiring


Generally, you need a building permit and an inspection... although in some (rural) areas the rules can be bent or broken. There are plenty of discussions on this site about building permits and consequences; use the search box in the top-right corner.

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