Building Bye-Laws In India: Everything You Need To Know

Building bye-laws : Everything to know

Before we get into the building bye-laws, let’s imagine a busy congested town where skyscrapers rise in the midst of single-storey houses. In such scenarios, the privacy, sunlight, and ventilation of the surrounding buildings can be severely affected by the skyscraper creating a cityscape that looks severely disordered.

Several factors can affect the method of construction of buildings, such as the purpose of the building, the motivation of the owners, the availability of materials, geographical conditions, etc.

However, In the absence of any regulatory bodies, the building owners may construct their buildings according to their fantasies and soon the town will be overcrowded, congested, and chaotic.

In need of order, the Town and Country Planning Organisation (TCPO) created a comprehensive set of regulations called “Model Building Bye-laws” to serve as a guide for state governments and urban local bodies, ensuring a sustainable and well-organized environment.

But what exactly are building bye-laws?

Let’s see it in detail.

What are Building Bye-Laws?

Building bye-laws are the set of legal tools that are used to regulate some aspects of building construction such as their coverage, architectural designs, construction aspects, maximum height, open spaces, and fire protection so as to achieve an orderly development of an area.

Building bye-laws contain minimum provisions that are taken from the National Building Code (NBC) of India. The National Building Code was first published in 1970 by the Bureau of Indian Standards to have uniform building regulations throughout the country.

Initially, NBC was a voluntary code. Later, the guidance from the NBC was made a part of local building bye-laws by municipalities and urban local bodies. As of now, the building bye-laws are mandatory in nature.

Building bye-laws
Image by Freepik

Origin of building bye-laws

It all started with the Gujarat earthquake in 2001, called the Bhuj earthquake. The earthquake was measured at 7.6 on the Moment Magnitude Scale and it had reached the extreme level on the Mercalli intensity scale. This earthquake killed nearly 13,000 people and destroyed almost 3,40,000 buildings.

In 2003, the Ministry of Urban Development desired to prepare a particular set of regulations called Model Building ByeLaws to emphasize more focus on the structural safety of buildings and for the guidance of the State Governments.

Accordingly, the first revision of model building bye-laws was drafted in 2004 and was circulated to all state governments and union territories. Subsequently, it was modified in 2015 and 2016.

Objectives of building bye-laws

The building bye-laws should be followed by proper authorities with the following objectives.

1) Building bye-laws prohibits and prevents irregular growth of buildings in a particular area and allows systematic growth.

2) It regulates the open space around the buildings for ventilation and fire safety.

3) It specifies the minimum dimensions of structural elements that are used in the building construction.

4) It had provisions for fire safety so that any damage caused due to fire would be localized and its impact on the neighborhood would be minimized.

5) It regulates the planning, design, and execution of building elements so that it creates safety and security for the inmates and the neighborhood.

6) It regulates the growth of the city by streamlining buildings of uniform heights so that the road ahead should be free from any blind corners or congestion.

Provisions mentioned in building bye-laws

The model building bye-laws of 2016 contains various provisions and requirements. Some of them are listed below.

1) It contains parking standards for various buildings such as residential buildings, commercial buildings, public facilities, Industrial facilities, etc. Some of the standards are mentioned below.

Land useParking standards
Residential Plot2 ECS for every 100 sq.m built-up area
Hotel3 ECS for every 100 sq.m built-up area
Community hall3 ECS for every 100 sq.m built-up area
District court1.8 ECS for every 100 sq.m built-up area

One Equivalent Car Space (ECS) is equivalent to the parking space required for one car.

2) It has provisions that indicate how many occupants should live on that type of building per 100 sq.m of the plinth area.

Type of occupancyOccupant Load per 100 sq m. of Plinth Area

3) ) It has provisions that indicate the minimum height of the room. Some of them are mentioned below. The height is measured from the surface of the floor to the bottom point of the ceiling.

  • The height of the room shall not be less than 2.75 m.
  • The height of the bathroom shall not be less than 2.1m.
  • The height of the store room shall not be less than 2.2m.
  • The height of the garage shall not be less than 2.4m.
  • In the case of air-conditioned rooms or rooms having false ceilings, the minimum height should be 2.4m measured from the surface of the floor to the lowest point of the air duct or false ceiling.

4) It has provisions that indicate the minimum requirement for the size of a room. Some of them are mentioned below.  

  • The minimum area of the habitable room should be 9.5m2.
  • The minimum area of the kitchen without dining should be 5m2 with a minimum width of 1.8m.
  • The size of the storeroom in residential buildings shall not be less than 3m2.
  • The minimum size of the private garage should be 3m x 6m.

5) The height of the parapet wall shall not be less than 1.0m and not greater than 1.2m from the finished floor level.

6) It also contains some standard provisions for the stairs.

  • The minimum width of tread (without nosing) shall be,
    • 250 mm for residential buildings
    • 300 mm for other buildings
  • The maximum height of the riser shall be,
    • 190 mm for residential buildings
    • 150 mm for other buildings
  • The minimum width of the staircase for,
    • Residential buildings – 1.0m
    • Assembly buildings – 2.0m
    • Educational buildings – 1.5m
    • Institutional buildings – 2.0m
    • Other buildings – 1.5m

These are some of the provisions mentioned in the model building bye-laws 2016. There are more than n number of provisions provided for ensuring the safety of the users. If you want to know more about the provisions, please refer to Model Building bye-laws 2016.

I hope that this article has provided you with valuable insight into the world of building bye-laws.

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