Henry W. Yankowski, leader of Pikes Peak Regional Building, is a building code expert and historian. During his career as a builder and in 20 years as a government building regulator, Yankowski has collected old codes from around the country.
He scanned and shared a copy of the oldest codes in his collection – 1788 Salem, N.C.
Here is a copy of the cover of the 11-page code book.
You can read the code book, which is written by hand, by following this link: salem_building_code1788.pdf.
Of course, some codes from 1788 no longer apply, such as those regulating placement of “Necessaries” — toilets of the day. And it wasn’t good enough to build them away from other homes “so that they do not molest the neighbors.” The code went further into outhouse design issues, mandating: “For the necessaries, a deep hole must be made because the ill odors derive mainly from exposure to the sun.”
It does not specify one-holers or two-holers. Nor does it require stars and moons to be cut into the door.
Also, the Salem codes regulated wages paid for construction. Consider the following passage taken, grammar and spelling mistakes and all, from page 8:
“Brothers who want to build must hold to the wage rates fixed in the community if they employee outsdie workers. The shall not pay higher rates except in an emergency.”