Michigan Residential Code

For more than 20 years, Michigan has required all residential builders to comply with a statewide building code. But because that code gets updated periodically, staying in-the-know hasn’t always been the easiest thing. 

And with an update to the code likely coming just around the corner, it’s important that Michigan contractors know what’s required of them now — and how to comply with updates as they get released. So here’s your quick-start guide to Michigan residential code, plus some tips for staying updated on code changes as they come. 

What residential building code is current in Michigan right now?

In February 2016, the state adopted the 2015 Michigan Residential Building Code. At the time of this writing, that code is still the most current version issued by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). 

In the last half-decade, LARA has acknowledged that the 2015 code contains some errors and conflicting information. There aren’t a ton of issues, but if you’ve been confused by part of the code, this document — which contains clarifications and corrections — might clear things up. 

How often does the Michigan residential code change?

Per state law, the Michigan residential code — along with mechanical code, plumbing code, electrical code, and more — needs to be updated every three to six years. Clearly, the state has decided to use the full six years this time around, but the clock is ticking for them. 

Michigan contractors should expect to hear about a new code update any day now. Based on past cycles, it’s likely that 2021 Michigan residential code will get adopted in early 2022. 

Is the International Residential Code (IRC) part of Michigan residential code?

Absolutely. In fact, state law specifically says that “the [Michigan residential building] code shall consist of the international residential code… with amendments, additions, or deletions as the director determines appropriate.”

Since a code update is right around the corner, you might want to review the 2021 IRC. This document will serve as the basis for the new Michigan residential building code.  

How can I easily stay updated on Michigan residential building code?

Good news. You don’t have to read through the entire Michigan residential building code to get in-the-know once the new code comes out. In fact, you don’t even have to use any of your free time to brush up. 

Because LARA requires all Michigan contractors to take continuing education every few years and the code could theoretically be updated every few years, your CE hours provide a perfect opportunity to keep yourself informed. 

If you’re in the first six years of having a contractor license, you need a pretty hefty 21 hours of CE during each three-year renewal cycle. That gives you ample time to learn about all the latest developments in the Michigan residential code. The easiest way to stay informed about code changes — and to get your CE hours in general — is to take a Michigan LARA-approved online course on the subject that you can work through at your own pace. 

After the six year mark, your CE needs drop off pretty drastically. At that point, you only need three hours of continuing education during each renewal cycle. And one of those hours needs to specifically focus on Michigan residential building code, so you might as well learn about the latest there. Here are some specific options for you: you can choose a one-hour online code course, or you could take a three-hour course package that includes an hour on code. Either way, you’ll use some of your required CE hours to stay in the know about Michigan residential code.