By Alex Michael Asiedu.
On Wednesday 31 October 2018 the Ghana Building Codes 2018 document GS 1207:2018 was launched under the auspices of the Ministry of Works and Housing, the Building and Road Research Institute (BRRI) the Centre for Scientiﬁc and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Ghana Standards Authority.
It is a 38 part 1,700 page document which deﬁnes building parameters such as occupancy classiﬁcation and use, site development and land use, building heights and areas, types of construction, ﬁre and smoke protection, interior furnishing, energy efﬁciency, and sustainability, soils and foundations, electrical, lifts, plumbing and green building requirements.
Apparently in November 2017, the Government had taken the initiative to empower a 22 member committee composed of a broad range of relevant professionals to ﬁnalise the document which had been under preparation on and off by the Building Road and Research Institute(BRRI) for over 30 years.
The members of the Committee were drawn from the Ghana Institute of Architects, Ghana Institution of Surveyors, Ghana Institute of Planners,Ghana National Fire Service and the ranks of other relevant stake holders.
Building codes set the standards for buildings in terms of their material content and mode of construction.
They focus on public health, safety and welfare.
The Ghana Building codes is modified from existing international standards with a slant to suit local conditions.
The Building codes document will for the ﬁrst time in our history, set out relevant guide lines within our Building landscape to promote efﬁcient locally developed building practices and construction methods using some of our local materials i.e bamboo and rattan .
The needs of disabled Ghanaians have also been taken into account in these codes. The vice president declared at the launch that the building codes are expected to end the current haphazard and free for all construction practices in the Country and render the built environment safe and consistent with international standards.
Other areas in the Document relate to earthquake, ﬁre and ﬂood protection, soils, building foundations and superstructure including roofs. Among other beneﬁts, it is expected that the Codes will help streamline construction costs especially with Public Building Projects since only approved materials will be permitted for use.
The codes are also expected to promote efﬁcient public procurement procedures. All this will will lead to value for money as well as improvements in health and safety in our communities.
The building codes will also encourage practices which will provide protection from ﬁre, earthquakes, ﬂooding, shoddy and sub standard buildings, and promote energy efﬁciency and environmental friendliness.
A critical next step is to quickly pass the codes into enforceable law and ensure that they are understood and made available to every Ghanaian at an affordable price, as well as on a dedicated internet site.
If this is not done we would not have made any progress!
After becoming law they must be implemented faithfully and strict sanctions imposed where they are ﬂouted.
We must however not forget the role our Government has to play in the housing sector, by sanitising the land title and acquisition process to enhance security of land tenure as well as providing the necessary infra structure in communities which shall in turn encourage the orderly development of Communities within the country.
Well done to all those who helped to bring the Ghana building codes to fruition.