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Why Building Regulations Are Important For Your Roof Replacement

Why Building Regulations Are Important For Your Roof Replacement

Congratulations! Your Birmingham-area home needs a complete roof replacement! That may not strike everyone as good news, but needing a new roof is a great opportunity. You have many choices in replacement roofing materials. You also can ensure your home stays current with building regulations. 


Every legal municipality is entitled to enact its own regulations, but most Alabama jurisdictions do what the City of Birmingham, Alabama does: they use the International Residential Code (IRC). This universally-accepted set of regulations (the Code) is constantly improved and updated. 

Each municipality revises its applicable laws to consider the suitable edition of the Code. For example, the City of Birmingham uses the 2015 Code

Knowing the edition of the Code in force in your municipality is essential. Any remodeling or extensive renovations you have done to your home must use the most recent Code your jurisdiction requires. 

While some things — land use, property lines, sewage access — may allow “grandfathering,” for everyone’s safety, building codes almost never allow old methods to prevail and remain in place. If you are having your Birmingham-area home’s roof redone from sheathing up, you need to follow the correct building regulations. 


The 2021 Code has an entire chapter — Chapter 9, Roof Assemblies — devoted to residential roofs. If you want to understand why roofing is not for amateurs, scroll through the dozens and dozens of sections of this rigid code. Most of us will not be able to understand most of the sections. 

Roofs are dangerous places to work and walk, so no homeowner should climb out on a roof. Even if you ignored our advice, you still would be out of your depth with the details. 

Here, for instance, is a brief excerpt regarding complete roof replacement, Section R908: 

R908.3 Roof replacement. 

Roof replacement shall include the removal of existing roof layers down to the roof deck. 

Exception: When the existing roof assembly includes an ice barrier membrane that is adhered to the roof deck, the existing ice barrier membrane shall be permitted to remain in place and covered with an additional layer of ice barrier membrane in accordance with Section R905. 


You may think your municipality is being mighty persnickety to go to all the fuss and bother of making roofers follow the Code. Such regulations are important to you, the homeowner, though. Consider if no regulations existed. Your roofer could sell you sheathing that was too thin or flashing that corroded after a rainy summer. 

The Code gives you the assurance that your Alabama home’s roof will hold up to harsh weather, last many years, and keep water out of your living space. The Code is a plan for your roofer, a basic requirement on using all the right things:

  • The Code spells out fire safety requirements for roofing materials, such as shingles
  • The Code dictates the size and types of fasteners used on your new roof
  • The Code specifies the various layers required, from sheathing and underlayment to drip edge and flashing

You would not feel safe driving a car thrown together without regard to safety. You would not put your infant baby in a crib that failed to meet basic safety requirements. So why risk a full roof replacement done without respect for the International Residential Code? 

Contractors and the Code

Responsible, conscientious residential roofers will be happy to follow the Code, because it guides them on the proper way to prepare your full roof replacement. Many of the costs of that new roof are driven by the Code’s requirements, so your contractor can present you with an accurate and honest Scope of Work in the estimate. 

Storm-chasers, fix-it and handyman services, or amateurs may be completely unfamiliar with the ins and outs of the Code. They may skip vital steps, neglect to use Code-approved materials, or install the right materials in the wrong way. 

Those unscrupulous roofers will not pay the price for their ignorance and negligence. 

Your family will. 

A roof not installed according to the International Residential Code’s roofing requirements is a roof at risk. It is a roof that is likely to fail sooner rather than later. Such a replacement roof is an expensive mistake. 

When searching for a qualified, professional roofing contractor, ask them questions about the IRC. Do they even know what it is? How do they implement its requirements? How will they adhere to the Code’s requirements on your full roof replacement? Contact us today at Yellowhammer Roofing in Birmingham, Alabama. We serve the fine folks throughout Alabama and Tennessee. Let us help you make heads or tails of local building codes, plan for proper full roof replacement, or keep your existing roof in great condition.

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