Alternate Methods, Code Interpretations, or Modifications

Plan Review
Not Required
Not Required
$51.46 to $643.30
Admin fee
Processing Time
10 to 14 business days
Houston Public Works

1002 Washington Ave., 4th Floor
Houston, TX 77002

8 am to 4:30 pm


The Building Official has authority under the International Building Code to make interpretations, approve alternate methods requests, and to allow modifications of the building code based on practical difficulties, where the intent of the code is met.

After Approval

Alternate Methods letter, including attachments, will need to be kept with plans when submitted to plan review, and with the approved copy of plans for inspections.

Conditions & Exceptions

The Building Official cannot grant waivers to or variances from the code.


  • Standard Request: $51.46
  • Moderate Request (2 to 4 hours of research): $128.66
  • Extensive Requests:
    • Base charge (Up to 4 hours of research): $643.30
    • Each additional hour: $160.82
Statutory Authority
What You Need

General requirements for all request types

  • Nature of the request (alternate method, interpretation, modification) 
  • Project address and suite number
  • City permit project number
  • Use or occupancy group
  • Type of construction
  • Building square footage
  • Pertinent dimensions
  • Applicable code section
  • Description of the problem
  • Details of the proposed solution
  • Specific code requirement(s)

Requirements for Code Interpretations

Code interpretations are based on the intent of the code

  • Describe how the interpretation would apply to the particular set of circumstances
  • Describe the alternative interpretations and their consequences

Requirements for Alternate Methods

A request to use an alternate method of construction or design to substitute for code requirements must include details that show the proposed method is equivalent to that prescribed in terms of quality, strength, effectiveness, fire resistance, durability and safety.

  • Describe the proposed alternate method to be substituted
  • Demonstrate how it is equivalent to the prescribed code requirement specified in the Houston adopted code

Requirements for Modification to Existing Buildings

Provided the building official first finds that an existing site condition or special individual reason makes the strict letter of the code impractical, a request for a code modification based on practical difficulties in existing buildings may be submitted for consideration.

  • Describe why the code requirement creates a practical difficulty
  • Demonstrate that the proposed modification is compliant with the intent and purpose of the code and that such modification does not lessen health, accessibility, life and fire safety, or structural requirements of that specified in the current Houston adopted code.

Apply Online

Submit all Alternate Methods and Code Interpretation requests via email to [email protected]


Apply in Person

Bring a written request letter to:
Building Code Enforcement: Code Development
1002 Washington Ave., 4th Floor
Houston, TX 77002

Apply by Mail

Mail a request letter to:

Attn: Customer Assistant and Code Development (CACD) Section
City of Houston
PO Box 2688
Houston, TX 77252-2688


Conditions & Exceptions

All requests must be made in writing.

What You Need

Plans and plan details required for alternate method requests shall be submitted as scalable documents, minimum size of 11 inches x 17 inches.

Electronic copies shall be submitted in PDF format.