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Construction programmes are interwoven in a large measure in all sectors of development, be it housing, transport, industry, irrigation, power, agriculture, education or health. Construction, both public and private, accounts for about fifty percent of the total outlay in any Plan. Half of the total money spent on construction activities is spent on buildings for residential, industrial, commercial, administrative, educational, medical, municipal and entertainment uses. It is estimated that about half of the total outlay on buildings would be on housing. In a Five-Year Plan of, say, Rs 1,560 billion, about Rs 780 billion would be spent on construction generally, of which about Rs 390 billion would be on buildings of various types and occupancies. It is imperative that for such a large national investment, optimum returns are assured and wastage in construction is avoided.

Soon after the Third Plan, the Planning Commission decided that the whole gamut of operations involved in construction, such as administrative, organizational, financial and technical aspects, be studied in depth. For this study, a Panel of Experts was appointed in 1965 by the Planning Commission and its recommendations are found in the 'Report on Economies in Construction Costs' published in 1968.

One of the facets of building construction, namely, controlling and regulating buildings through municipal byelaws and departmental handbooks received the attention of the Panel and a study of these regulatory practices revealed that some of the prevailing methods of construction are outmoded; some designs are overburdened with safety factors and there are other design criteria which, in the light of newer techniques and methodologies, could be rationalized; and building byelaws and regulations of municipal bodies which largely regulate the building activity in the country wherever they exit, were outdated. They did not cater to the use of new building materials and the latest developments in building designs and construction techniques. It also became clear that these codes and byelaws lacked uniformity and they were more often than not 'specification oriented' and not 'performance oriented'.

These studies resulted in a recommendation that a National Building Code be prepared to unify the building regulations throughout the country for use by government departments, municipal bodies and other construction agencies. The Indian Standards Institution was entrusted by the Planning Commission with the preparation of the National Building Code. For fulfilling this task a Guiding Committee for the preparation of the Code was set up by the Civil Engineering Division Council in 1967. This Committee, in turn, set up 18 specialist panels to prepare the various parts of the Code. The Guiding Committee and its panels were constituted with architects, town planners, materials experts, structural, construction, electrical illumination, air conditioning, acoustics and public health engineers. These experts were drawn from the Central and State Governments, local bodies, professional institutions and private agencies. The first version of the Code was published in 1970.

After the National Building Code was published in 1970, a vigorous implementation drive was launched by the ISI to propagate the contents and use of the Code among all concerned in the field of planning, designing and construction activities. For this, State-wise implementation conferences were organized with the participation of the leading engineers, architects, town planners, administrators, building material manufacturers, building and plumbing services installation agencies, contractors, etc.

These conferences have been useful in getting across the contents of the Code to the interests concerned. These conferences have also helped in the establishment of Action Committees to look into the actual implementation work carried out by the construction departments, local bodies and other agencies in different States. The Action Committees representing all interests in individual States met regularly to review and consider the action required leading to the actual adoption of the Code. The main actions taken by the Action Committees were to revise and modernize their existing regulatory media, such as specifications, hand books, manuals, etc, as well as building byelaws of local bodies like municipalities at city and town levels, zilla parishads, panchayats and development authorities, so as to bring them in line with the provisions contained in the National Building Code. Arising out of this, considerable progress has been made by most of the states in revising their building byelaws with the assistance of ISI.

Some of the byelaws of corporations, municipalities and other local bodies in the States of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, West Bengal, Union Territory of Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana were redrafted to bring them in line with National Building Code and submitted to the respective Governments. These are under various stages of consideration.

Some of the State Construction Departments like Public Works Departments have set up Cells to look into the revision of PWD Specifications and Codes to align them with the National Building Code and other related Indian Standards.

In spite of the best efforts by all concerned to implement the Code, the revised building byelaws finalized in many states have not yet been adopted by the concerned implementing/enforcing agencies due to procedural bottlenecks. Efforts are necessary at Government level to overcome the difficulties in revising building byelaws and PWD specifications and adopting them in practice, reflecting the present state of knowledge on various aspects of building construction.

Since the publication in 1970 of the National Building Code, a large number of comments and useful suggestions for modifications and additions to different parts and sections of the Code were received as a result of use of the Code by all concerned, and revision work of building byelaws of some states. In addition, a number of Indian Standards have been prepared over the past 13 years and a large number of Indian Standards on which some parts/sections of the Code were based have undergone substantial modifications, particular mention may be made of revisions to Concrete Code, Earthquake Code and Masonry Code. The revised version of the National Building Code has been prepared taking into consideration all the aspects mentioned above.

The National Building Code is a single document in which, like a network, the information contained in various Indian Standards is woven into a pattern of continuity and congency with the interdependent requirement of sections carefully analyzed and fitted in to make the whole document a cogent continuous volume. A continuous thread of 'preplanning' is woven which, in itself, contributes considerably to the economies in construction particularly in building and plumbing services.

The Code contains regulations, which can be immediately adopted or enacted for use by various departments, municipal administrations and public bodies. It lays down a set of minimum provisions designed to protect the safety of the public with regard to structural sufficiency, fire hazards and health aspects of buildings; so long as these basic requirements are met, the choice of materials and methods of design and construction is left to the ingenuity of the architect and the engineer. The Code also covers aspects of administrative regulations, development control rules and general building requirements; fire protection requirements; stipulations regarding materials and structural design; rules for design of electrical installations, lighting, air-conditioning and lifts; regulation for ventilation, acoustics and plumbing services, such as water supply, drainage, sanitation and gas supply; measures to ensure safety of workers and public during construction; and rules for erection of signs and outdoor display structures.

Some other important points covered by the Code include 'industrialized system of building' and 'architectural control'. The increase in population in the years to come will have a serious impact on the housing problem. It has been estimated that the urban population of India will double itself in the next two decades and consequently at least as much additional accommodation as is now available has to be provided during this period. Speed of construction is thus of an utmost importance and special consideration has to be given to industrialized systems of building. With increased building activity, it is also essential that there should be some architectural control in the development of our cities and towns if creation of ugliness and slum-like conditions in our urban areas is to be avoided.

The changes incorporated in the present Code have been specified in the Foreword to each part/section of the Code. Some of the important changes are: addition of development control rules, requirements for greenbelts and landscaping including norms for plantation of shrubs and trees, special requirements for low income housing; fire safety regulations for high rise buildings; revision of structural design section based on new and revised codes, such as concrete codes (plain and reinforced concrete and prestressed concrete), Earthquake Code, Masonry Code; addition of outside design conditions for important cities in the country, requirements relating to noise and vibration, air filter, automatic control, energy conservation for air-conditioning; and guidance on the design of water supply system for multi-storeyed buildings.

The Code as now published is the second version representing the present state of knowledge on various aspects of building construction. The process of preparation of the Code has thrown up a number of problems; some of them have been answered fully and some partially. Therefore, a continuous programme is envisaged by which additional knowledge that is gained through technological evolution, users' views over a period of time pinpointing areas of clarification and coverage and results of research in the field, would be incorporated in to the Code from time to time to make it a living document. It is proposed to bring out changes to the Code periodically.

Provision of the Code will serve as a model for adoption by PWDs and other government construction departments, local bodies and other construction agencies. Existing PWD codes, municipal byelaws and other regulatory media could either be replaced by the National Building Code or suitably modified to cater to local requirements in accordance with the provisions of the Code. Any difficulties encountered in adoption of the Code could be brought to the notice of the Guiding Committee for Corrective Action.


(Clause 12.21)



    1. For the purpose of this Appendix, the following definitions shall apply.

    1. AGING- Those manifestations of the aging processes that significantly reduce mobility, flexibility, co-ordination, and perceptiveness but are not accounted for in the categories mentioned in E-0.1.2.


      1. DISABILITIES OF INCO-ORDINATION - Faulty co-ordination or palsy from brain spinal, or peripheral nerve injury.
      2. HEARING DISABILITIES- Deafness or hearing handicaps that might make an individual insecure in public areas because he is unable to communicate or hear warning signals.
      3. NON-AMBULATORY DISABILTIES- Impairments that, regardless of cause of manifestation, for all practical purposes, confine individuals to wheelchairs.
      4. SEMI-AMBULATORY DISABILTIES- Impairments that cause individuals to walk with difficulty or insecurity. Individuals using braces or crutches, amputees, arthritics, spastics, and those with pulmonary and cardiac ills may be semi-ambulatory.
      5. SIGHT DISABILTIES- Total blindness or impairments affecting sight to the extent that the individual functioning in public areas is insecure or exposed to danger.

    3. RAMPS, RAMPS WITH GRADIENTS- Because the term 'ramp' has a multitude of meanings and uses, its use in this text is clearly defined as ramps with gradients (or ramps with slopes) that deviate from what would otherwise be considered the normal level. An exterior ramp, as distinguished from a 'walk', would be considered an appendage to a building leading to a level above or below the existing ground level. As such, a ramp shall meet certain requirements similar to those imposed upon stairs.

    4. WALK, WALKS- Because the terms 'walks' 'walks' have a multitude of meanings and uses their use in this standard is clearly defined as a predetermined, prepared-surface, exterior path-way leading to or from a building or facility, or from one exterior area to another, placed on the existing ground level and not deviating from the level of the existing ground immediately adjacent.


    1. Almost any building can be made accessible to handicapped persons by so planning the site that the terraces, retaining walls and winding walks are used effectively.

      1. Site development is the most effective means to resolve the problems created by topography, definitive architectural designs or concepts, water table, existing streets, and typical problems singularly or collectively, so that ingress and egress to buildings by physically disabled may be facilitated while preserving the desired design and effect of the architecture.

    2. Waiks

      1. Public walks shall be at least 120 cm wide and shall have a gradient not greater than 5 percent.

        1. It is essential that the gradient of walks and driveways be less than that prescribed for ramps, since walks would be devoid of handrails and kerbs and would be considerably longer and more vulnerable to the elements. Walks of near maximum grade and considerable length should have level areas at intervals for purposes of rest and safety. Walks or driveways should have a non-slip surface.

      2. Such walks shall be of a continuing common surface not interrupted by steps of abrupt changes in level.

      3. Wherever walks cross other walks, driveways, or parking lots they should blend to a common level.

        • This requirements, does not require the elimination of kerbs, which, particularly if they occur at regular intersections, are a distinct safety feature for all of the handicapped, particularly the blind. The preferred method of meeting the requirement is to have the walk incline to the level of the street. However, at principal intersections, it is vitality important that the kerbs run parallel to the street, up to the point where the walk is inclined, at which point where the walk is inclined, at which the point the kerb would turn in and gradually meet the level of the walk at its highest point. A less preferred method would be to gradually bring the surface of the driveway or street to the level of the walk. The disadvantage of this method is that a blind person would not know when he has left the protection of a walk has entered the hazards of a street or driveway.

        Method of blending pavement and roadway surface

        Suitable Method of Blending Pavement and Roadway Surfaces

      4. A walk shall have a level platform at the top which is at least 130 X 150 cm, if a door swings out onto the platform or toward the walk. This platform shall extend at least 30 cm beyond each side of the doorway.

      5. A walk shall have a level platform at least 90 cm deep and 150 cm wide, if the door does not swing onto the platform or towards the walk. This platform shall extend at least 30 cm beyond each side of the doorway.

    3. Parking Lots

    1. Spaces that are accessible and approximate to the facility should be set aside and identified for use by individuals with physical disabilities.
    2. A parking space open on one side, allowing room for individuals in wheelchairs or individuals on braces and crutches to get in and out of an automobile onto a level surface, suitable for wheeling and walking, is adequate.
    3. Parking spaces for individuals with physical disabilities when placed between two conventional diagonal or head-on parking spaces should be 3.6 m wide.
    4. Care in planning should be exercised, so that individuals in wheelchairs and individuals using braces and crutches are not compelled to wheel or walk behind parked cars.
    5. Consideration should be given to the distribution of spaces for use by the disabled in accordance with the frequency and persistence of parking needs.
    6. Walks shall be in conformity with E-1.2.


    1. Ramps with Gradients - Where ramps with gradients are necessary or desired, they shall conform to the following requirements:
    2. Detailed example of a ramped approach

      Example of Ramped Approach

      1. A ramp when provided shall not have a slope greater than 1 in 12.
      2. A ramp shall have handrails on at least one side, and preferably two sides, that are 80 cm beyond the top and bottom of the ramp, that are smooth, and that extend 30 cm beyond the top and bottom of the ramp.

        NOTE1 - Where handrails are specified to be of heights other than 80 cm, it is recommended that two sets of handrails be installed to serve all people. Where major traffic is predominantly children, particularly physically disabled children, extra care should be exercised in the placement of handrails, in accordance with the nature of the facility and the age group or groups being serviced (see also E-3).

        NOTE2 - Care should be taken that the extension of the handrails is not in itself a hazard. The extension may be made on the side of a continuing wall.

      3. A ramp shall have a non-slip surface.

        • The provision of non-slip surfaces on ramps greatly assists the handicapped persons with semi-ambulatory and ambulatory disabilities. Non-slip surfaces are provided by many standard finishes and materials. The surfaces of the concrete ramps can be made non-skid by brooming the surface or by finishing with an indenting roller.

      4. A ramp shall have a level platform at the top which is at least 180 X 180 cm, if a door swings out onto the platform or toward the ramp. This platform shall extend at least 30 cm beyond each side of the doorway

        Details about the levels at ramp end

        Level Areas Required at End of Ramps Leading to Doorways

      5. Each ramp shall have at least 180 cm of straight clearance at the bottom.
      6. Ramps shall have level platforms at 9.5m intervals for purposes of rest and safety and shall have platforms wherever they turn.

    3. Entrances

      1. At least one primary entrance to each building shall be usable by individuals in wheelchairs (see fig 5A) and shall be indicated by a sign (see fig 5B)

        Doors plans for making them suitable for wheelchairs

        Plan of Doors Suitable for the Wheelchair Bound

        Color signs used at the entrance

        Sign for use at the Entrances

        NOTE - Because entrances also serve as exits, some being particularly important in case of an emergency, and because the proximity of such exits to all parts of buildings and facilities, in accordance with their design and function, is essential, it is preferable that all or most entrances (exits) should be accessible to, and usable by, individuals in wheelchairs and individuals with other forms of physical disability herein applicable.

      2. At least one entrance usable by individuals in wheelchairs shall be on a level that would make the elevators accessible.

    4. Doors and Doorways

      1. Doors shall have a clear opening of not less than 80 cm when open and shall be operable by a single effort.
        • Two-leaf doors are not usable by those with disabilities defined in E- and E- unless they operate by a single effort, or unless one of the two leaves meets the requirements of E-2.3.1.
        • It is recommended that all doors have kick plates extending from the bottom of the door to at least 40 cm from the floor, or be made of a material and finish that would safely withstand the abuse they might receive from canes, crutches, wheelchair foot platforms, or wheelchair wheels.

      2. The floor on the inside and outside of each doorway shall be level for a distance of 150 cm from the door in the direction the door swings and shall extend 30 cm beyond each side of the door.
      3. Sharp inclines and abrupt changes in level shall be avoided at doorsills. As much as possible, thresholds shall be flush with the floor.
        • Care should be taken in the selection, placement and setting of door closers so that they do not prevent the use of doors by the physically disabled. Time-delay doors closers are recommended.
        • Automatic doors that otherwise conform to E-2.3.1, E-2.3.2 and E-2.3.3 are very satisfactory.

        NOTE - These specifications apply both to exterior and interior doors and doorways.

    5. Stairs - Stairs when made in wood shall conform to accepted standards [111(4)], with the following additional considerations.

      1. Steps in stairs that might require use by those with disabilities defined in E-0.1.24 and E- or by the aged shall not have abrupt (square) nosing .

        Guidelines for an accessible staircase for adults and children


        • Individuals with restrictions in the knee, ankle, or hip, with artificial legs, long leg braces, or comparable conditions cannot, without great difficulty and hazard, use steps with nosing as illustrated in Fig. 6A, but may safely and with minimum difficulty use steps with nosing as illustrated in Fig. 6B. Open risers should not be recommended.

      2. Stairs shall have handrails 80 cm high as measured from the tread at the face of the riser. A desirable shape of the handrail is given in Fig.7.

        Suggested details for handrails

        Suggested Details for Handrails

        NOTE - Where handrails are specified to be of heights other than 80 cm, it is recommended that two sets of handrails be installed to serve all people. Where traffic is predominantly children, particularly physically disabled children, extra care should be exercised in the placement of handrails in accordance with the nature of the facility and the age groups being serviced. Dual handrails may be necessary as illustrated in Fig 6C.

      3. Stairs shall have at least one handrail that extends at least beyond the top step and beyond the bottom step.
        • Care should be taken that the extension of the handrails is not in itself a hazard. The extension may be made on the side of a continuing wall. At right angle junction of walls and at landing levels, the handrails should be rounded off to minimize the hazards due to sharp projecting corners (see fig 8).

        Stairecase plan for ambulant disabled

        Example of Staircase Plan for Ambulant Disabled

        NOTE - Where codes specify handrails to be at heights other than 80 cm, it is recommended that two sets of handrails be installed to serve all people. Where traffic is predominantly children, particularly physically disabled children, extra care should be exercised in the placement of handrails in accordance with the nature of the facility and the age group or groups being serviced. Dual handrails may be necessary as illustrated in Fig. 6C. Insert figure

      4. The common formula for calculation of treads and risers shall be 1 tread + 2 risers=60 cm. Steps should, wherever possible, and in conformity with existing step formulae, have risers that do not exceed 17 cm. The treads may have non-slip surface.

    6. Floors

      1. Floors shall have a non-slip surface
      2. Floors on a given storey shall be of a common level throughout or be connected by a ramp in accordance with E-2.1.1 to E-2.1.6.
      • There shall not be a difference between the level of the floor of a corridor and the level of the floor of the toilet rooms.
      • There shall not be a difference between the level of the floor of a corridor and the level of a meeting room, dining room, or any other room, unless proper ramps are provided.

    7. Toilet Rooms - It is essential that an appropriate number of toilet rooms, in accordance with the nature and use of a specific building or facility, be made accessible to, and usable by the physically handicapped.

    1. Toilet rooms shall have space to allow traffic of individuals in wheelchairs .

      Floor plan for WC comparment wheelchair accessible

      Suggested Plan WC Compartment for the Wheelchair Bound

      Section Plan of WC compartment

      Section Through WC Compartment for the Wheelchair Bound

    2. Toilet rooms shall have at least one toilet stall for the ambulant disabled , that:
      1. is 90 cm wide;
      2. is at least 140 cm, preferably 150 cm deep;
      3. has a door (where doors are used), that is, 80 cm wide and swings out;
      4. has handrails on each side, 78 cm high and parallel to the floor, 3.8 cm clearance between rail and wall, and fastened securely at ends and centre; and
      5. has a water closet with the seat 50 cm from the floor.

      WC compartment plan for ambulant disabled

      Suggested Plan WC Compartment for the Ambulant Disabled

      WC compartment section plan for ambulant disabled

      Section Through WC Compartment for the Ambulant Disabled

      NOTE - The design and mounting of the water closet is of considerable importance. A wall-mounted water closet with a narrow understructure that recedes sharply is most desirable. If a floor mounted water closet must be used, it should not have a front that is wide and perpendicular to the floor at the front of the seat. The bowl should be shallow at the front of the seat and turn backwards more than downwards to allow the individual in a wheelchair to get close to the water closet with the seat of the wheelchair.

    3. Toilet rooms shall have wash basins with narrow aprons, which when mounted at standard height are usable by individuals in wheelchairs, or they shall have wash basins mounted higher, when particular designs demand, so that they are usable by individuals in wheelchairs. Insert Images
      • The drainpipes and hot-water pipes under a lavatory shall be covered or insulated so that a wheelchair individual without sensation will not burn himself.

    4. Some mirrors and shelves shall be provided above the washbasins at a height as low as possible and not more than 1 m above the floor, measured from the top of the shelf and the bottom of the mirror.
    5. Toilet rooms for men shall have wall mounted urinals with the opening of the basin 48 cm from the floor, or shall have floor mounted urinals that are on level with the main floor of the toilet room.
    6. Toilet rooms shall have an appropriate number of towel racks, towel dispensers, and other dispensers and disposal units mounted not higher than 1 m from the floor.

    1. The dimensions given in this Appendix are for adults of average stature. In designing buildings for use by children, it may be necessary to alter some dimensions, such as height of handrails, in accordance with accepted standards [III (5)].

  5. For additional information regarding other facilities and conveniences required in buildings meant for use of physically handicapped, reference may be made to accepted standards [III (6)].

    The following list records those standards which are acceptable as 'good practice' and 'accepted standards' in the fulfillment of the requirements of the Code. The latest version of a standard shall be adopted at the time of enforcement of the Code. The standards listed may be used by the Authority as a guide in conformance with the requirements of the referred clauses in the Code.

    In the following list the number appearing in the first column within parentheses indicates the number of the reference in this Part.

    1. IS: 8888-1978 Guide for requirements of low income housing
    2. IS: 6313 Code of practice for anti-termite measures in buildings: IS: 6313 (Part I)-1971 Part I Constructional measures IS: 6313 (Part II)-1971 Part II Pre-constructional chemical treatment measures IS: 6313 (Part III)-1971 Part III Treatment for existing buildings
    3. IS: 3792-1978 Guide for heat insulation of non-industrial buildings (first revision)
    4. IS: 1634-1973 Code of practice for design and construction of wood stairs in houses (first version)
    5. IS: 4838 Anthropometric dimensions for school children: IS: 4838 (Part I) - 1969 Part I Age group 5 to 11 years IS: 4838 (Part II) - 1969 Part II Age group 12 to 16 years
    6. IS: 4963-1968 Recommendations for buildings and facilities for the physically handicapped

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