Relevant Codes

Overview: Codes Affecting Your Project

All of these Codes are available for purchase at the Customer Service Counter in the Business Development and Permit Center, 3300 Central Parkway, Cincinnati, Ohio 45225. Call 513-352-3271.

For assistance while using these Codes, call the number listed with the Code titles.

Residential Code Of Ohio 2006 (RCO) | 513-352-3313

This code has been adopted by the City of Cincinnati for one-, two- and three- family dwellings including their accessory structures and up to three attached townhouses less than four stories in height.

It skips the many provisions that apply to non-residential buildings, making it easy to read. The chapters are arranged in a logical construction sequence, starting with the building planning. Along with the usual building restrictions, it contains the applicable parts of the Mechanical Code.

Ohio Building Code 2011 (OBC) | 513-352-3313

This code applies to construction and/or alterations of non-residential buildings and residences not governed by the Residential Code of Ohio.

Ohio Mechanical Code 2011 (OMC) | 513-352-3313

This code applies to all commercial heating, ventilation, air conditioning, refrigeration, incineration, air pollution control and similar work not governed by the Residential Code of Ohio.

Ohio Plumbing Code 2011 (Including Cincinnati Amendments) | 513-352-3280

This code applies to all plumbing work.

Electric Code | 513-381-6080 (Inspection Bureau, Inc.)

Call with questions about electrical work.

Cincinnati Building Code (CBC) | 513-352-3313

This Code is a collection of 19 local regulations, laws and ordinances that supplements the Residential Code of Ohio, the Ohio Building Code, the Ohio Mechanical Code and the Ohio Plumbing Code.

It also includes local regulations regarding construction in the flood plain (Chapter 1109) and excavation and fill requirements (Chapter 1113).

  • Chapter 1115 adopts the RCO One-, Two-, and Three Family Dwelling Code.
  • Chapter 1117 (Housing Code) regulates all existing residential buildings.
  • Chapter 1107 provides local enforcement of the ASME Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators and related regulations.
  • Chapter 1121 provides Historic Rehabilitation Standards.

Housing Code, Chapter 1117 | 513-352-3275

This Code section relates to the use and maintenance of existing residential buildings, portions thereof or premises used or intended to be used for human habitation. All provisions of the Housing Code are retroactive and apply to all existing dwellings.

The purpose of this Code section is to establish minimum housing standards necessary for the preservation of the public safety, health and general welfare in all existing residential buildings, rooming houses, hotels and motels, except to the extent that it may be in conflict with the laws of this State or with the lawful regulations of any State Board Agency.

Historic Rehabilitation Standards, Chapter 1121 | 513-352-2375

This standard applies to historically designated buildings containing residential business and retail uses that are five stories in height or less, 4,000 square feet in area, of Type IIIB construction, or better, with each floor having two means of egress. This standard allows most sound existing walls and ceilings to remain in lieu of upgrading the fire resistive ratings to new Code Standards. This is especially applicable to changes of use and occupancy situations.

Cincinnati Zoning Code | 513-352-3313

The Cincinnati Zoning Code regulates the use and development of land and is designed to protect property values by preventing the location of incompatible uses in close proximity to one another. Zoning regulations also help to maintain the character of established neighborhoods and prevent inappropriate activities such as auto repair in residential neighborhoods.

The Zoning Code governs land use in historic districts, hillsides and certain urban business areas. It regulates development to avoid parking congestion and promotes effective signage compatible with its surroundings. This Code is generally arranged in a sequence of more restrictive Zoning districts to less restrictive Zoning districts.


Example No. 1: John Q. and Susan J. Public purchase a three-story building in Over-the-Rhine. The last use of this building was business on the first floor and storage in the basement and the upper floors.

They wish to turn the building into a 12-unit building (four units on each floor) with a Laundromat and storage in the basement.

Because this work will involve a change of use, many sections of the OBC will apply, as well as applicable provisions of the Housing Code. Note: OBC Chapter 34 has alternative compliance provisions for building constructed prior to July 1, 1979. If the building is designated historic, then CBC Chapter 1121 would apply thereby mitigating the fire resistance upgrades required by the OBC.

Example No. 2: Mr. Smith wishes to convert his three-story, two-family on Liberty Hill into condominiums. He wishes to make them more desirable by adding a room and deck to each floor to better market the view of the city. He must comply with the RCO Code as well as the Housing Code since he has only two dwelling units.

Example No. 3: Ms. Jones owns a four-story, two-family building in the West End. She wishes to renovate the building and turn it into a four-family. Because of the number of units and floors, the provisions of the OBC and pertinent sections of the Housing Code must be met. If the building is designated historic, then CBC Chapter 1121 would apply thereby mitigating the fire resistance upgrades required by the OBC.

Example No. 4: An organization wants to renovate a problem, vacant four-story, 12-unit apartment building. As part of the renovation, a number of units would be converted into efficiency units and a number of units combined into three- and four-bedroom units.

The OBC would govern any new construction such as unit separation walls, which are typically required to be rated for one-hour fire resistance. Any new room arrangements are required to comply with new code standards with respect to size, access and privacy and light and ventilation. Even though no changes are anticipated outside of the units, the exits and fire rating of the common stair hall need to comply with the Housing Code.

Other typical existing conditions that need to be evaluated for compliance with the Housing Code and shown on the construction plans are the existing room sizes, natural light and ventilation for existing habitable rooms, access to toilet rooms and requirements for habitable rooms below grade.

Other areas that need to be addressed are indicated on any orders that have been written on the building.

If the building is designated historic, then CBC Chapter 1121 would apply thereby mitigating the fire resistance upgrades required by the OBC.