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In the 18th century B.C., the Babylonian King Hammurabi adopted a building code that was direct and easy to understand: If a house fell down and killed its occupant, the builder would be put to death. Modern codes are less severe, but they are also more difficult to decipher. In most states and localities, codes are lengthy documents, covering in minute detail materials and practices for construction, mechanical systems, plumbing, fire safety, and in some cases energy conservation. Despite many efforts over the years to consolidate them, the codes throughout the country's states, counties, and municipalities are still far from uniform. A product or practice that is "code approved" in one jurisdiction is not necessarily acceptable somewhere else. Who Writes the Codes? The