Jan 29, 2023 |
Ed Fryday, ACI, CMI® | TREC License: #6932

Earliest Known Building Codes

Deuteronomy 22:8 &The Code of Hammurabi

Unless you study the Bible, you may not recognize the name Hammurabi. However, most folks will recall the Bible's Old Testament book of Deuteronomy. Written by Moses in approximately 641 – 609 BC, chapter 22 verse 8 gives us some early guidance on residential construction.

In the King James Version it says, “When thou buildest a new house, then thou shall make a battlement for thy roof, that thy bring not blood upon thine house, if any man fall from thence.

The English Standard Version puts it in more modern language, “When you build a new house, you shall make a parapet for your roof, that you may not bring the guilt of blood upon your house, if anyone should fall from it.”

About 500 years before the Ten Commandments, King Hammurabi of Babylon established one of the first sets of written laws. Hammurabi ruled Babylon from 1792 BC to 1750 BC. The Code of Hammurabi contained 282 laws inscribed on a stone “stele” or tablet, which was put in public view.

Of these 282 laws, a half dozen of them pertained to residential construction. These might be considered precursors of today’s residential building codes. They are;

228. If a builder builds a house for someone and completes it, he shall give him a fee of two shekels in money for each sar of surface.

  • (According to an article at, a “sar” is equal to 23 square meters,)

229. If a builder builds a house for someone and does not construct it properly, and the house he built falls in and kills its owner, then that builder shall be put to death.

230. If it kills the son of the owner, the son of that builder shall be put to death.

231. If it kills a slave of the owner, then he shall pay slave for slave to the owner of the house.

232. If it ruins goods, he shall make compensation for all that has been ruined, and inasmuch as he did not construct properly this house which he built and it fell, he shall re-erect the house from his own means.

233. If a builder builds a house for someone, even though he has not yet completed it; if then the walls seem to be toppled, the builder must make the walls solid by his own means.


Posted: Jan 29, 2023
Posted by: Ed Fryday, ACI, CMI® | TREC# 6932
ASHI# 250764 | InterNACHI# NACHI07031703
Space City Inspections, LLC
(281) 636-9419


Ed Fryday, ACI, CPI, CMI®

Ed Fryday, ACI, CPI, CMI®

Email: Contact Ed Fryday
Phone: (281) 636-9419
TREC License: #6932

ASHI Member ID# 250764
InterNACHI ID: NACHI07031703

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