Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Shelter

13 Aug

Recently, here on RR we’ve been talking about building codes and touching on topics like “freedom” in general.

Here on RR, we frequently talk about how building codes (or the lack thereof) limit our ability to use ISBUs to build housing where we WANT to, and then define where we HAVE to. 

On a list I read, this topic is also raging.

Some feel that “building codes” protect all citizens, and as a result they feel that “Building codes” are lines drawn in sand, that must not be crossed.

Some feel that Building Codes are just limits, to keep the sheep in line, and protect profit margins.

I’m thinking that the truth is somewhere in the middle.

Do you watch Charlie Rose on PBS? Recently, a comment was made on his show that;

The Bill of Rights, and the Constitution were actually written to suppress rights, not enable them.


Rules limit freedom, right?

They seemingly provide protection for some, while limiting the rights of others.

Some might say that the problem with Building Codes in particular, is that they offtimes appear to be badly written, antiquated, and disproportionate in their “designs” on the public that they  alleged to serve.

We’ve talked about what you “need to be” to actually be a building inspector, here on RR before, so I’m not going to drag that out again. Suffice to say, a case could be made that if you’re 18 and you’ve graduated from High School, you have a shot at telling guys like architects and engineers that they can’t do what they were trained to do, because YOU have the ultimate authority.

Building codes are often written and acted on, fueled by the elite, the wealthiest of us, who seek to insure that needs are met that protect THEM, and not necessarily “ALL”.

It’s the lobbyist mentality that rules those days…

Many of these Codes disproportionally limit the freedom and even the rights of individuals who seek out a “different path”.

On the list I’m referring to, the following was said;

“So often, laws are being written by the lobbyist of the interests with the money to do the writing, present it to the law makers, and convince them that theirs are the only worthwhile concerns.

Meanwhile, groups such as owner-builders get no representation, and become the victims of the laws.”

Like many others, I’m not a huge fan of building codes and  zoning laws we use most commonly in the US. In my view, they provide segregation by design, and it moves us away from that “melting pot” that history teaches us is the backbone of this country. It’s the diversity that makes us unique, that makes us different than many other places on the rock.

Those laws create ghettos and isolation.

Further, building codes are designed to protect the trades, not your right to build a safe home. If you think otherwise, you’re naive.

Beyond being restrictive, the big push of late is to make them Universal.” I’m doing a lot of reading lately, about topics like a National Building Codes that would blanket ALL US states and territories.

It doesn’t look so bad, on it’s surface, does it? Well… think it through.

The adoption of their “Overwhelmingly smothering code” would serve to stop many kinds of alternative housing in their tracks. The common man simply couldn’t afford to get a UL rating, on every component and assembly configuration for example.

A guy I read, “Laren Corie” (Natural Solar Building Design and Solar Heating/Natural Cooling/Energy Efficiency Consultation Since 1975 – he’s a “Little House guru” and all around REALLY SMART guy), said it best:

“Building codes are purported to be only about insuring that structures are built to be safe for their occupants. So, where does prescribing a particular material, designed and built in exacting detail to the code, fit in with that?

Codes and other restraints on building should be only based on performance goals, not detailed compliance.

We need a new amendment to our constitution.

The next Bill of Rights should start with:

“Protection from the elements being necessary, the People shall not be restrained from building by their own labor on their own land, in any manner of housing or shelter that suits their needs, WITHOUT unduly endangering their neighbors, thus providing shelter for their immediate family.”

I think that where the difference falls is are the laws designed to protect you from other people or other people from you or are they designed to protect you from yourself.

Laws designed to protect you from others gives you freedom..

Laws designed to protect you from yourself takes away freedom..”

I’m thinking that maybe he has something there…

What do YOU think?

Image Credits:

Blueprint Image – StockPhotoSpecialties

Building Code Image – New York Magazine

Thermal Attic Image – Laren Corie


8 Responses to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Shelter”

  1. Michael Janzen August 13, 2010 at 4:30 pm #

    Two things…

    #1… it’s amazing to me that anyone in their right mind could think that the foundation of this country were put in place to limit people.

    #2… building codes are one of my favorite things to bash. Some of them are very useful guides for knowing how to build a safe and strong structure, but most of them as bullshit that make it harder for the owner-builder to empower themselves but constructing their own homes.

    In other words the complexity of the codes in many places prevent people from solving their own problems.

    The right level of governance is something in between. Our society should setup a certain level of governance that serves as a guide (yeah just like the function that Constitution and Bill of Rights serve) but we must avoid over regulation to the point of disempowerment.

    Lastly… not every place has ridiculous rules. Some places, some policy makers, do understand and agree with what I just said. If you live in a place with too much BS move or build a tiny house and skirt them 🙂 hahahaha!

    • Renaissance Ronin August 13, 2010 at 5:28 pm #

      Tell me, Michael, what do you REALLY think! 🙂

      For those of you who don’t know;

      Michael is the “King of the Pallet-Heads…” a crown I bestowed on him for using “True Renaissance Ronin Spirit” and turning stuff that people thought was just junk, into functional, affordable shelter.

      This dude’s a “Shelter Samurai” if ever there was one…

      While there are those who believe that the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were crafted as “limits,” many of us believe that they were just “foundations” to be expanded upon like a “turned down slab’ or pilings that supports a home.

      The problem I see with “rules” is that they are generally crafted by design, to protect the people who fund them.

      Those in control expect us to remain sheep grazing in their subsidized and protected fields, while they sit up on the porch in the shade, drinking Mint Juleps and raking in the cash from the land leases…

      Most of my building families aren’t led by sheep, they’re directed by “wolves.” Protecting their clans is “tribal and instinctively ingrained.”

      Thus, building codes implemented by others without the same “drive” usually sets poorly with them. In fact it’s why so many alternative homes are actually built rurally. We don’t have to deal with idiot neighbors who want us to “do like they do, or disappear.”

      Maybe someday that will change. In the meantime, we’ll keep pushing the boundaries. Sooner or later they’ll have to take us seriously.

      Thanks Michael!

      • ted yrizarry August 14, 2010 at 2:12 am #

        *quoteThe right level of governance is something in between. Our society should setup a certain level of governance that serves as a guide (yeah just like the function that Constitution and Bill of Rights serve) but we must avoid over regulation to the point of disempowerment.*end quote*
        Holy Crap! What?? We gotta take responsability for ourselves?? Do things Without Govt. ASSistance!?! OMG!!! Can that be done! haha…you are correct. We (as in “We the people”) need to rely less on the big brother and more on self motivation.
        *quote*Maybe someday that will change. In the meantime, we’ll keep pushing the boundaries. Sooner or later they’ll have to take us seriously.*end quote*
        Maybe…but only if the economy fully crashes and they discover that the trendy structure they have vainly tried to impress their neighbors with while living under the yolk of debt has little value should dollars have less usefulness than food or bullets…I’ll take an efficent “ugly, non code conforming” house that will allow me to thrive in the worst of times over a code compliant Barbie house that collapses at the first strong wind and leaves my great grandchildren to pay off the loan!

        • Madrigorne August 16, 2010 at 6:16 am #

          I just wish I didn’t have to literally work 4 jobs to keep a roof over our collective heads.

          • Renaissance Ronin August 17, 2010 at 11:50 pm #

            Dear One,

            I wish that you didn’t have to, as well…

            Someday, some way, we’re gonna get some steel up over your head, I promise…


  2. ted yrizarry August 15, 2010 at 11:22 pm #

    Is that you JW?
    So, I wanted to ask if you were somehow involved with this build in AZ?
    Sorry for the link to another site…But I am kinda to blame for the thread in the first place. See! Your infecting all of us RONIN! Ha!
    What struck me (other than a bat or truck) was the signs posted on the jobsite. Someone has managed to get approval…Maybe AZ has less restrictive regulations than most states? Ronin…Mr Expert? hello? heehee…
    I now wonder if there is an off hand list of the most or least restrictive states to build in? hint-hint…

    • Renaissance Ronin August 17, 2010 at 11:49 pm #

      Hi Ted,

      Nope, not one of mine. You can tell, because I’d have never stacked them up in that array.

      Cross stacking like that gets too expensive and causes problems that have to be solved… Usually by throwing money at them.

      There are states that have “no building code” zones. And there are books out there that tell you how to find them.

      I even ran an ad for one here on the blog for a while. Google “No Building Codes” and Terry Herb. Tell him I sent you. (If you do, he makes a donation to the blog, with each book sale.)

      I read your exploits on that other forum. It sounds like you’re gathering some sheep! Need any shears? 🙂


  3. ted yrizarry August 19, 2010 at 7:55 am #

    So was I being Baaaaaaaadddd?
    It is a little amazing how some things have such amazing potential yet recieve so little fanfare.?. Here are metal rectangles of hope for millions of people around the world and yet so few have heard of the Gospel of Corten. Figured I would go forth and spread some seeds to see if any sprout. And while I am easily among the ranks of novice, at least I can see the extent of applications for these and will be chomping at the bit until free time and greenbacks align to allow my own efforts and skills to blossom.
    As a side, semi-funny note. I have been reading a historical fiction book dealing with the fall of Rome and the imaginary arrival of Authur and the Round table. Why does this have anything to do with ISBUs? Well, I had a dream about a litteral Camalot built with containers…heehee. That may be a bad sign or not…but I found it funny. Especially when you can visualize the moat constructed from topless containers and the pallisade of ones on end, filled with dirt. A large wall of steel!
    Yup…its time to play with the plasma cutter…

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