Back To Board Minutes Listing Building Code Chapter 2 | Monday, May 4, 2009






          The words or terms defined in this chapter are deemed to be of prime importance in either specifying the subject matter of code provisions or in giving meaning to certain terms used throughout This Code for administrative or enforcement purposes. 

          Section 201 addresses the practical concerns encountered when interpreting This Code in relation to the use of gender, tense and singular versus plural.  This section also provides the Code Official with guidance for finding definitions of those words or terms not defined herein. 

          Section 202 provides an alphabetical listing of those terms that are  commonly used throughout This Code and that are required for the effective application of code requirements. 

          Codes, by their very nature, are technical documents.  As such, literally every word, term and punctuation mark can add to or change the meaning of the intended result.  This is even more so with a performance code where the desired result often takes on more importance than the specific words. 

          Furthermore, This Code, with its broad scope of applicability, includes terms inherent in a variety of construction disciplines.  These terms can often have multiple meanings, depending on the context or discipline being used at the time. 

          For these reasons, it is necessary to maintain a consensus on the specific meaning of terms contained in This Code.  Chapter 2 performs this function by stating clearly what specific terms mean for the purpose of This Code.





201.1.  Scope.  In the application of This Code, the terms used have the meanings given in this chapter. 

201.2  Interchangeability.  While the definitions contained in this chapter are to be taken literally, gender and tense are to be considered interchangeable.  This is so that any grammatical inconsistencies within This Code text will not hinder the understanding or enforcement of the requirements. 

201.3  Terms Defined in Other Codes.  When a word or term appears in This Code and that word or term is not defined in this chapter, other references may be used to find its definition, such as the International Code Council Electrical Code Administration Provisions, International Building Code (IBC), International Fire Code (IFC), International Plumbing Code (IPC), International Mechanical Code (IMC), and International Zoning Code (IZC).  These codes contain additional definitions (some parallel and duplicative) that may be used in the enforcement of either This Code or other codes by reference. 

201.4  Terms Not Defined.  Another resource for defining words or terms not defined herein or in other codes is their "ordinarily accepted meanings."  The intent of this statement is that a dictionary definition may suffice, provided that the definition is in context. 

          Oftentimes, construction terms used throughout This Code may not be defined in this chapter or in a dictionary.  In such case, one would first turn to the definitions contained in the referenced standards (see Chapter 8) and then to published textbooks on the subject in question. 

201.5  Parts.  Each and every portion of a structure, whether the structure is used for only one type of occupancy or several, must comply with the appropriate regulations established by This Code.  It is understood that every portion or any part of a structure is to comply with This Code.  Instead of being wordy, "or any part thereof" is considered to be included after "dwelling," "building," "housekeeping unit," "rooming unit," etc. 

          Defining of Terms.  For the purpose of this ordinance, certain terms and words are hereby defined as follows:

          (a)  Words used in the present tense include the future.
          (b)  The singular number shall include the plural.
          (c.)  The word "shall" is mandatory and not directory.




          202.1  Approved.  As related to the process of acceptance of building installations, including materials, equipment and construction systems, this definition identifies where ultimate authority rests.  Whenever this term is used, it intends that only the enforcing authority can accept a specific installation or component as complying with This Code. 

          202.2  Alley.  A public thoroughfare which affords only a secondary means of access to abutting property. 

          202.3  Basement.  This definition defines that port of a building that is partly or completely below grade as being a basement.  In this case, "grade" refers to the finished ground level adjacent to the exterior walls at all points around the building perimeter. 

          A story having part, but not more than one-half (½), of its eight below grade.  A basement is counted as a story for the purpose of height regulations, if subdivided and used for business purposes other than by a janitor employee on the premises.

          202.4  Bathroom.  To be considered a bathroom, such a room need only contain one or more bathtubs or showers.  Traditionally, bathrooms are designed to afford privacy to an individual; however, such rooms may be designed to accommodate multiple users or bathers. 

          In everyday usage, the term is used interchangeably with toilet room (see the definition of "Toilet room") and in this context, people expect a bathroom to also contain plumbing fixtures used for the elimination of bodily wastes (water closets and urinals), and fixtures used for bodily cleansing, such as lavatories (sinks). 

          The typical bathroom in residential occupancies contains a water closed, a lavatory, a shower, a bathtub or both a shower and a bathtub.  A residential bathroom may also contain a bidet.


          202.5  Bedroom.  A bedroom, also referred to as a "sleeping room," is an area or room used for sleeping purposes.  A bedroom typically contains a bed and a piece of furniture to store clothing or a closet, although these are not required.  Bedrooms may also be temporarily used for other purposes when containing fold-up or dual-purpose furniture, such as daybeds or sleeper sofas.  In any case, bedrooms must have sufficient floor space per person in order to be used as such in addition to meeting all the requirements of Section 404.4.  The location and number of beds can be used to establish where people are sleeping and how many persons are occupying a dwelling at a given time.


          202.6  Boarding House.  A building, other than a hotel or restaurant, where meals are served for compensation, or which is equipped to serve such meals by prior arrangement for definite periods for more than two people.


          202.7  Building.  Any structure designed or intended for the support, enclosure, shelter, or protection of persons, animals, or property.  When a structure is divided into separate parts by not pierced walls extending from the ground up, each part is deemed a separate building.


          202.8  Building, Height Of.  The vertical distance from the grade to the highest point of the coping of a flat roof, or to the deck line of a mansard roof, or to the mean height level between eaves and ridge for gable, hip and gambrel roofs. 


          202.9           Building Area.  The building area is the maximum horizontal projected area of a building and its accessory building, excluding chimneys, open steps, balconies, buttresses, terraces, cornices, and other minor ornamental features projecting from the walls of the building.


          202.10  Business.  To engage in the purchase, sale, barter, or exchange of goods, wares, services, or merchandise; and the maintenance or operation of offices or recreational or amusement enterprises for profit.


          202.11  Cellar.  A story having more than one-half (½) of its height below grade.  A cellar is not included in computing the number of stories for the purpose of height measurement.


          202.12  Code Official.  The Official who is charged with the administration and enforcement of This Code, or any duly authorized representative.


          The statutory power to enforce This Code is normally vested in a building department (or the like ) of a state, county or municipality whose designated enforcement officer is termed the "Code Official" (see commentary, Section 104.)


          202.13 Condemn.  To condemn is to pronounce a structure as unfit for occupancy or use.  A condemnation is the result of the most serious of code violations in that it represents a condition, which in the opinion of the Code Official, poses a serious threat to the health and safety of the public or another structure or property.  A violation that results in condemnation is typically followed by citations requesting immediate action.  Depending on the severity of the situation, these actions may include vacating the premises, securing the structure or premises and, in some cases, demolition of the structure.  When condemnation is used, care must be taken to follow all of the provisions outlined in Sections 107 through 110 (see commentary, Section 108).


          202.14  Dwelling Unit.  A dwelling unit contains elements necessary for independent living, including provisions for living space (family rooms, dining rooms, living rooms, dens, etc.); sleeping quarters; food preparation and eating spaces and personal hygiene, cleanliness and sanitation facilities.  Section 404 establishes the minimum room sizes.  The minimum required levels of light and ventilation are included in Sections 402 and 403, respectively.


          A dwelling unit is typically occupied in one of two ways;  either through renting or ownership.  This Code requirements are applied consistently to all dwellings, regardless of the type of ownership.  Both owner-occupied and rented or leased dwellings must comply with the requirements of This Code.


          A dwelling unit can exist singularly as a one-family dwelling, or in combination with other dwelling units.  When two dwelling units are grouped together in the same structure, the structure is considered a two-family dwelling.  Apartment houses contain three or more dwelling units.


          202.15  Dwelling, Multiple.  A building, or portion thereof, designed for or occupied by more than two families.


          202.16  Dwelling, Single Family.  A building designed for or occupied by one family.


          202.17  Dwelling, Two Family.  A building designed for or occupied by two families.


          202.18  Easement.  Easements are important mechanisms that allow the local municipality workers access to buried utilities such as telephone and electric.  Easements also allow access to property that would have otherwise been rendered landlocked or inaccessible.  It is important to note and restrict permanent improvements that limit required access across these easements.  For example, a fence without a gate erected by a neighboring property owner that would deny entrance to an electrical transformer.


          202.19  Exterior Property.  The open space on the premises and on adjoining property under the control of owners or operators of such premises.  Exterior property generally consists of the open space or area outside a building or an accessory structure on the same premises or property.  It is often referred to as "the yard area," but can also include driveways, parking areas, portions of the public right-of-way, vacant lots or adjoining property under the control of the same owner.


          202.20  Extermination.  The control and elimination of insects, rats or other pests by elimination of insects, rats or other pests by eliminating their harborage places; by removing or making inaccessible materials that serve as their food; by poison spraying, fumigating, trapping or by any other approved pest elimination methods.


          This definition is needed since Section 308 requires that approved extermination methods that are not harmful to people be used to eliminate infestations.

          202.21  Family.  One or more individuals using common cooking facilities and living and eating together on the same premises as a single housekeeping unit.


          202.22  Garbage.  The animal or vegetable waste resulting from the handling, preparation, cooking and consumption of food.  Garbage is discarded food waste and differs from rubbish (see the definition of "Rubbish") in that it provides  a food source for rodents and other animals and insects.  Garbage that is not properly handled and disposed of regularly can cause unsanitary conditions and infestations of many types that could be the cause of illness in people and pets.  Durable garbage containers with tight-fitting lids offer the best protection against these conditions.


          202.23  Garage, Private.  A building designed or used to house not more than three self-propelled vehicles;  or, if located on the same lot as a swelling designed for two or more families, then not more than six self-propelled vehicles and for storage only; provided, that not more than three of such vehicles may be a commercial type vehicle.


          202.24  Garage, Public.  Any building, except private garages as defined, used for the storage or care of a self-propelled vehicle, or where any such vehicles are equipped for operation, are repaired, or kept for remuneration, hire, or sale.


          202.25  Grade.  The average level of the ground surface adjacent at the exterior walls of the building.


          202.26  Guard.  A building component or a system of building components located at or near an open sides of elevated walking surfaces that minimizes the possibility of a fall from the walking surface to a lower level.  This is a term common to the IBC and IRC.  This makes the enforcement of This Code criteria that much clearer to all parties involved.


          202.27  Habitable Space.  Habitable spaces are those spaces that are normally considered ‘inhabited" in the course of residential living and accommodate the four basic activities of living, sleeping, eating and cooking.  Other spaces, such as halls or utility rooms, are not considered habitable, but would, in many instances, be considered occupiable spaces.


          202.28 Hotel Or Motel.  A building or buildings in which lodging is provided and offered to the public for compensation and which is open to transient or permanent guests in contradistinction to a boarding house or a lodging house.


          202.29  Housekeeping Unit.  Housekeeping units differ from a traditional dwelling unit, as defined in the IRC, in that the sanitary facilities are not contained within the unit. 


          202.30  Imminent Danger.  A condition which could cause serious or life-threatening injury or death at any time.  As used in This Code, imminent danger refers to a condition that poses a threat or danger to the building occupants or persons in the proximity of a building or premises.  Section 109 empowers the Code Official to vacate an occupied premises, order the closing of streets or take other emergency measures to safeguard the public until the condition is no longer threatening.


          202.31  Improved Surface.  An improved surface shall consist of not less than four inches of compacted, commercially prepared road gravel or crushed rock, or the equivalent.


          202.32  Infestation.  This definition is needed for the application of Sections 302.5 and 306.1.  An infestation is the actual presence of live insects, rats, vermin or other pests.  If the actual presence of pests cannot be readily confirmed, the presence of fresh droppings, larvae, eggs, recent rodent holes or other such evidence can identify a current infestation.


          202.33  Inoperable Motor Vehicle.  Motor vehicles that are in some state of disrepair or disassembly are often the source of property maintenance complaints.  This definition clearly identifies that vehicles that are unlicensed, wrecked abandoned, in a state of disrepair or incapable of moving under their own power are inoperable.








           See Chapter 34 of the Village of Colfax, Municipal Code.  As used in this Section, "Inoperable Motor Vehicle" means any motor vehicle from which, for a period of at least 7 days, the engine, wheels, or other parts have been removed, or on which the engine wheels or other parts have been altered, damaged, or otherwise so treated that the vehicle is incapable of being driven under its own motor power.  "Inoperable Motor Vehicle" shall not include a motor vehicle which has been rendered temporarily incapable of being driven under its own motor power in order to perform ordinary service or repair operations.


          202.34  Labeled.  When a product is labeled, the label indicates, first, that the material has been tested for conformance to an applicable standard, and second, that the component is subject to third-party inspection to verify that the minimum level of quality required by the appropriate standard is maintained.  Labeling provides a readily available source of information that is useful for field inspection of installed products.  The label identified the product or material and provides other information that can be further investigated if there is any question as to its suitability for the specific installation.  The labeling agency performing the third-party inspection must be approved by the Code Official and the basis for this approval may include, but is not necessarily limited to, the capacity and capability of the agency to perform the specific testing and inspection.


          When This Code does not specifically state what information must be contained on the label, the applicable referenced standard often states the minimum identifying information required.  The data contained on a label typically includes, but is not necessarily limited to the name of the manufacturer; product name or serial number; installation specifications; applicable test and standards; the testing agency and the labeling agency (see commentary, Section 303.4)


          202.35  Lot.  Land, whether platted or not, occupied or to be occupied by one main building and its accessory buildings, together with such open spaces as are required under this ordinance and having frontage on a public street or a private street existing as of the date of this ordinance.


          202.36  Lot.  Corner.  A corner lot is situated at the junction of two or more streets.  For zoning purposes, the frontage of a lot shall be the shortest street frontage of the lot.

          202.37  Lot, Interior.  A lot other than a corner lot.


          202.38  Lot Lines.  The lines bounding a lot.


          202.39  Mobile Home.  A transportable structure, which is at least 40 feet in length, built on a chassis and designed to be used as a dwelling with or without a permanent foundation when connected to the required utilities.


          202.40  Mobile Home Lot.  A parcel of land for the placement of a single mobile home and the exclusive use of its occupants.


          202.41  Mobile Home Park.  A parcel of land which has been developed for the placement of four or more mobile homes and is owned by an individual, firm, trust, partnership, public or private association or corporation.


          202.42  Mobile Home Park Service Building.  A structure housing toilet, lavatory, park, manager's office, laundry facilities and other such facilities as may be permitted by this ordinance.


          202.43  Mobile Home Stand.  That part of a mobile home lot  which has been reserved for the placement of one mobile home with accessory structures or additions.


          202.44  Non-Conforming Use.  A building or land occupied for a use or a purpose which does not conform to the use regulation of the district in which it is situated.

          202.45  Nursing Home.  A home of  persons who are ill or aged, and which is licensed by the State of Illinois to accept patients for a fee.


          202.46  Occupancy.  The purpose for which a building or portion thereof is utilized or occupied.            By definition, a person need not have possession or control of a space in order to be an occupant.






          202.47  Openable Area.  The openable area is the actual area of a window or door (glazed or unglazed) through which outside air will flow into a structure.  The openable area should be measured when the window or door is in its full, open position.  When determining openable area, only the space between stops or between stops and sashes is to be measured.  The area of sashes, meeting rails, mullions and muntins is to be deducted (see Figure 403.1)


          202.48  Operator.  This definition is needed to distinguish the unique meaning of this term as it is intended to be used in This Code from the ordinarily accepted meaning of the term "operator".


          202.49  Owner.  Any person, agent, operator, firm or corporation having a legal or equitable interest in the property; or recorded in the official records of the state, county or municipality as holding title to the property; or otherwise having control of the property, including the guardian of the estate of any such person, and the executor or administrator of the estate of such person if ordered to take possession of real property by a court.  This term defines the person or other legal entity who is responsible for a building and its compliance with the code requirements.


          202.50  Person.  A person can be an individual or group of individuals who have formed one of several types of business organizations.  Corporations, partnerships and other types of business entities are treated as "persons" under the law.  They are just as responsible as any individual for complying with This Code and subject to the penalties established under local or state law (see Section 106.4)


          202.51  Premises.  A lot, plot or parcel of land, easement or public way, including any structures thereon.  When this term is used in This Code, it is intended that the entire lot and all of the structures thereon be included within the scope of This Code requirement.


          202.52  Public Way.  Any street, alley or similar parcel of land essentially unobstructed from the ground to the sky, which is deeded, dedicated or otherwise permanently appropriated to the public for public use.  This term describes the ground upon which the public will be allowed passage.


          202.53  Refuse.  Any ashes, tin cans, sewage, scrap metal, or waste material of any kind, discarded and which must be disposed of in the public interest.


          202.54  Rooming House.  A room house provides shelter and sleeping arrangements for individuals.  This differs from other living arrangements in that the occupant shares a dwelling unit rather than having his or her own complete and private dwelling unit.  Each person rents individually from the owner and does not occupy the structure as part of a family.  In most cases, the occupant shares a bathroom and cooking facilities.  Another term that could be used is "boarding house,' and it would be classified as an Occupancy Group R-1 or R-2, depending upon the permanent or transient nature of the occupants.


          202.55  Rooming House.  A building where lodging only is provided for compensation for three or more persons but not more than 20 persons.


          202.56  Rooming Unit.  Rooming units differ from dwelling units since no cooking facilities are located in any rooming unit.  Rooming units contain only sleeping and living facilities.


          202.57  Signs.  All signs or billboards displayed on a building or a separate structure, but not including the names of owners or business names and sign on the interior of windows.


          202.58  Sleeping Unit.  This definition is included to coordinate the Fair Housing Act Guidelines with This Code.  The definition for "Sleeping unit" is needed to clarify the differences between sleeping units and dwelling units.  Some examples would be a hotel guestroom, a dormitory, a boarding house, etc.  Another example would be an addition to a studio apartment with a kitchenette (I.e., microwave, sink, refrigerator).  Since the cooking arrangements are not permanent, this configuration would be considered a sleeping unit, not a dwelling unit.  As already defined in This Code, a dwelling unit must contain permanent facilities for living, sleeping, eating, cooking and sanitation.





          202.59  Story.  That part of building, other than a cellar, included between one surface of any floor and the surface of the floor next above it, or, if there be no floor above it, then the space between the floor and the ceiling next above it.


            202.60  Story, Half.  A space under a sloping roof which has the line of intersection of roof decking and wall face not more than three feet above the top floor level and in which space not more than two-thirds (2/3) of the floor area is finished off for use.  A half-story containing independent apartment or living quarters shall be counted as a full story.


          202.61  Street.  A public thoroughfare which affords the principal means of access to abutting property.


          202.62  Strict Liability Offense.  An offense in which the prosecution in a legal proceeding is not required to prove criminal intent as a part of its case.  It is enough to prove that the defendant either did an act which was prohibited, or failed to do an act which the defendant was legally required to do.


          This term, along with its usage in Section 106.3, brings This Code in line with current legal terminology in regards to the prosecution of violations.  With this term, a prosecutor is not required to prove that code violations were intended by a defendant or were even due to negligence.  It is difficult to prove such intention or negligence in a court of law.


          202.63  Structure.  That which is built or constructed or a portion there.  This definition is intentionally broad so as to include within its scope, and therefore the scope of This Code (see Section 101.2), everything that is built as an improvement to real property.  The phrase "or a portion thereof" is included so that those words do not have to be inserted at each location in This Code where a provision applies to only a portion of a structure.


           Anything constructed or erected , the use of which requires permanent location on the ground, or anything constructed or erected which is attached to something having a permanent location on the ground.



          202.64  Structural Alterations.  Any change in the supporting members of a building, such as bearing walls or partitions, columns, beams, or girders, or any substantial change in the roof or in the exterior walls.


          202.65  Tenant.  A person, corporation, partnership or group whether or not the legal owner of record, occupying a building or portion thereof as a unit.


          This definition parallels that of the term "occupant" and makes it clear that, as used in This Code, an owner-occupant is considered a tenant.


          202.66  Toilet Room.  In the context of This Code, a toilet room is a room that contains plumbing fixtures used for elimination of bodily wastes (water closets and urinals) and also includes fixtures used for hand washing (lavatories).  Toilet rooms are typically associated with public occupancies.  Although sometimes used interchangeably with the term "bathroom" (see the definition of "Bathroom"), a toilet room contains only those plumbing fixtures designed for waste elimination and hand washing.  A toilet room becomes a bathroom when it contains a bathtub or shower.


          202.67  Tourist Camp.  An area used for the accommodation of automobile transients, excluding motels.


          202.68  Trailer Camp.  An area containing facilities for and used to accommodate automobile trailer homes.


          202.69  Used.  The term "used" shall be deemed to include the words arranged, designed, or intended to be used.


          202.70  Ventilation.  Ventilation is the process of moving air to or from building spaces.  This definition is used in this chapter to establish minimum levels of air movement within a building for the purposes of providing healthful interior environment.  Ventilation would include both natural (openable exterior windows and doors for wind movement) and mechanical (forced air with mechanical equipment) methods, when permitted by This Code.




          202.71  Workmanlike.  To be workmanlike, maintenance or repair work must be performed in a manner consistent with work done by a skilled craftsman.  In general, floors should be level, walls plumb and square and windows installed so that they operate easily and fit within the rough opening to exclude the elements.  The use of proper tools, methods and materials is usually necessary for workmanlike repairs.


          202.72  Yard.  Yard is similar to "exterior property: but pertains only to the open area on a lot with a structure.  A vacant lot or property without a structure does not have a yard by this definition.


          202.73  Yard, Front.  An occupied space extending across the full front of the lost and measured between the front line of the lot and measured between the front line of the lot and the nearest line of any porch, paved terrace, or any building projected to the lot's side lines.


          202.74  Yard, Rear.  The open space on a lot having a main building and unoccupied, except for accessory buildings extending the full width of the lot, and lying between the rear lot line and the rear line of the main building projected to the lot's side lines.


          202.75  Yard, Side.  An open space on a lot with a main building unoccupied, except for accessory buildings situated between the rear lot line and the rear line of the main building projected  to the lot's side lines.

Map - Colfax IL
Quick Contact Links
  • (309) 723-3261 - (309) 723-3711(FAX)
  • "911"- (309) 723-6241 (NON-EMERGENCY)
  • (309) 723-3261