Composting Toilets - Do They Meet Building Code?
When installing a composting toilet system in your home, the issue of whether that system meets local building code is very important. In this article, we'll explain the U.S. building code system, how to find your local building department, and how to get your composting toilet approved.
As strange as it may seem, the system of building codes and their enforcement in the United States is fairly disorganized. For starters, there is no official building code of the United States, nor is there any federal mandate on how structures are built or inspected. This process is left entirely up to individual states to regulate, and each state does so a little differently. Some states adopt a statewide building code and then mandate that all construction within the state comply. Most states, however, kick the can even further down the road, allowing county or even city governments to adopt and enforce their own building codes, as they see fit. In some small towns and many rural areas of the U.S., there are actually no building codes whatsoever in force.
If you are unsure about the building codes in your area or what office has jurisdiction over your home, the best place to start is with your most local form of government. If you live in a city or town, call city hall and inquire if there is a building department. If you don't live in a town or if your town has no building department, then move on to the county level, and from there, the state level. Eventually, you will find someone knowledgeable about building codes in your area.
Ideally, all this legwork should be done before you purchase your composting toilet. However, many homeowners install composting toilet systems first, only to discover later that they are in violation of their local building codes, and then they are issued a correction notice. If you’ve discovered that composting toilets are not on the list of "approved" plumbing fixtures in your city, don't worry. It may be easier than you think to get your system approved.
Remember that the goal of all building codes is to protect citizen's safety by promoting responsible building techniques and use of good building materials. Therefore, you will need to demonstrate to your building officials that your composting toilet system is safe and non-polluting. The best way to do this is to provide them with copies of the product instruction and installation manual, as well as any testing reports and certifications or listings that the toilet model itself has earned through nationally recognized independent testing organizations. The National Sanitation Foundation, or NSF, is one such organization that independently tests and certifies composting toilet systems to comply with the American National Standards Institute's standard for compost toilets. Essentially this means that the NSF has tested the system to be odorless, non-polluting, and to produce an end-compost that is pathogen free to the extent that it won't make anyone ill. This certification will carry a lot of weight with your building department, so don't neglect to include such information, if it's available.
Doing your homework about local building code is important anytime you make a modification to your home, and particularly so if you're considering installing a composting toilet system. If your home is found to be in violation of building codes, it can spell trouble down the road, especially when it comes time to sell your house. By taking the time to investigate your building code now, you'll save yourself a lot of time and hassle later, and you'll also help to promote and raise awareness about eco-friendly forms of sustainable waste management.
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To find out more about whether a compost toilet will meet your local building code, visit the Composting Toilets Store at http://www.composting-toilet-store.com/Composting_Toilets_s/3.htm