Iowa Building Codes

Iowa building codes serve as a set of standards and regulations aimed at ensuring the safety, durability, and efficiency of construction projects within the state. These codes cover various aspects, including structural integrity, electrical systems, and fire safety, to create secure and compliant buildings. Adherence to Iowa’s building codes is essential for architects, contractors, and property owners to maintain high construction standards.


Current Commercial Code of Iowa

Iowa State Building Code

  • Base Code: 2015 International Building Code (IBC)
  • Amendments: Iowa has made specific amendments to the 2015 IBC to address local needs and conditions.
  • Effective Date: This adoption has been in effect since the code was officially updated, which typically involves a process of public notice and comment before final implementation.

Other Relevant Codes

  • Iowa Fire Code: Based on the 2015 International Fire Code (IFC), with amendments.
  • Iowa Mechanical Code: Utilizes the 2015 International Mechanical Code (IMC).
  • Iowa Plumbing Code: Adopts the 2015 International Plumbing Code (IPC).
  • Iowa Electrical Code: Generally follows the National Electrical Code (NEC), with the most recent adoption likely being one of the later editions, such as the 2017 NEC.

Energy Regulations

  • Iowa Energy Code: For commercial buildings, Iowa follows the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), amended to suit local climatic and energy use conditions.

Current Residential Code of IOWA

Iowa State Energy Code, based on the 2012 IECC with state-specific amendments
passed 3/12/2014, effective 6/1/2014

The Iowa State Energy Code (661 Iowa Administrative Code, Chapter 303) applies to all commercial construction, whether new construction or construction work on existing buildings. These requirements also apply to all new construction of one and two family residences in the state, but not to renovation or remodeling of one and two family residences.

Iowa Code Chapter 103A affords local jurisdictions discretion to adopt other building codes or no building code at all. However, it also establishes that certain portions of the State of Iowa Building Code, including energy conservation requirements, apply to construction statewide (local jurisdictions are allowed to adopt the latest edition of a nationally-recognized energy code in lieu of the requirements in the State Building Code).

Climate Zones: 5A, 6A

Code Adoption and Change Process

Code Change Process

Code updates are initiated by the Iowa Building Code Commission within the Building Code Bureau of the Fire Marshal’s Division of the Department of Public Safety.

Iowa Code section 103A.14 created the Building Code Advisory Council, a seven-member body appointed by the governor.

Code Change Cycle

Iowa’s code update process is concurrent with the three-year ICC model code update cycle.

Next Code Update


December 2016 Publication of Iowa’s State Energy Plan Iowa publishes its state energy plan, which includes objectives and strategies relating to energy efficiency in buildings. This plan sets the direction for future updates to the energy codes and other energy-related policies.
May 18, 2016 New State Building Code and State Historic Building Code Become Effective The new State Building Code and State Historic Building Code become effective. Although both generally reference the 2015 suite of I-codes, the Iowa State Energy Code still references the 2012 IECC for both commercial and residential construction. (See Chapter 303.) This reflects a transitional phase aiming for a gradual upgrade in energy efficiency standards.
January 7, 2014 Amendments to the State Building Code Approved The Iowa Building Code Advisory Council, after previously issuing a notice of intended action (NIA), approves the adoption of several amendments to the State Building Code, including the adoption of the 2009 IECC effective April 4, 2014, with a grace period until June 1, 2014. There are four amendments to the residential code, primarily put in place to make it easier to use in both climate zones.
October 21, 2009 Adoption of Amendments to the State Building Code The Iowa Building Code Advisory Council, after previously issuing a notice of intended action, approves the adoption of several amendments to the State Building Code, including the adoption of the 2009 IECC effective January 1, 2010 (with a three-month transition period during which the previous code, the 2006 IECC, may still be used). Residential sprinkler requirements are pushed back until January 1, 2013.
April 27, 2007 Establishment of the Iowa Climate Change Advisory Council Governor Culver signed Senate File 485 into law, creating the Iowa Climate Change Advisory Council (ICCAC). The ICCAC was charged with creating a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The state worked closely with the Center for Climate Strategies (CCS) and completed the plan in December 2008 which included recommendations to improve the building energy code. Additionally, Iowa signed on to be a member of the Midwest Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord in 2007, recognizing the impacts that the Midwest has on climate change.
1978 Establishment of the First Energy Code The first energy code is established, based on the National Conference of States on Building Codes and Standards Model Code for Energy Conservation. Since that time, the Iowa building code has been updated based on the latest edition of the MEC and its successor code, the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).
1972 Enactment of Iowa Code Chapter 103A The General Assembly of the state of Iowa passes House File 6, an Act to institute an Iowa building code to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of its citizens. House File 6 became known as Iowa Code Chapter 103A, marking the formal establishment of building codes in Iowa.


David Ruffcorn, AIA
Design/Energy Engineer
Iowa Department of Public Safety
Building Code Bureau

Brian Bishop
Construction/Design Engineer
Iowa Department of Public Safety

Isaac Elnecave
Senior Policy Manager
Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA)

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