Our Building Codes - Good, Bad, Or Ugly? - General Discussion - Contractor Talk
View Poll Results: Our Building Codes - Good, Bad, or Ugly?
Good. I like our building codes. 11 84.62%
Bad. I don't like our building codes. 1 7.69%
Ugly. They're beyond bad. 1 7.69%
Voters: 13. You may not vote on this poll

Our Building Codes - Good, Bad, Or Ugly?

 
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Old 04-01-2013, 01:09 PM   #1
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Our Building Codes - Good, Bad, Or Ugly?


What do YOU think of our building codes, the IBC and IRC?

I've been publicly critical of the International Codes over the years. Well, someone at the ICC finally saw one of my articles and lashed back with this letter to the editor:



This letter is in response to a two-part piece I wrote concerning minimum rebar requirements in foundations. Here are the two articles:

Part 1, Minimum Rebar In Footings, from Structural Engineer Magazine, January, 2013:

Part 2, Minimum Rebar In Concrete Foundatin Walls, from Structural Engineer Magazine, March, 2013:

Of course the ICC would disagree with my opinion that their publications are convoluted and confusing. But to suggest that I be banned from voicing that opinion in the future is downright un-American.

How do you feel about the IBC and IRC?

* Are they user-friendly?
* Do they produce consistent results from user to user?
* Can you find what you're looking for easily and quickly?

Thanks for you time.
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Old 04-01-2013, 04:54 PM   #2
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Re: Our Building Codes - Good, Bad, Or Ugly?


I suppose that if I were able to take intense and rather lengthy courses in reading and interpreting the building codes, IBC and IRC from those who are steeped in it's complexities, I might, at some time, find it to not so difficult.
I simply do not have the time nor the money for such courses even if thay were offered somewhere close and at a convenient time.

But then, all of the Building officials that I have to work with would need to attend the classes also so that we would all be 'working on the same page' as it were.

My two cents anyway.

Andy.

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Old 04-02-2013, 08:12 PM   #3
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Re: Our Building Codes - Good, Bad, Or Ugly?


Tim,

First off, I thought your articles were excellent. The contradictory nature of the building codes you addressed is very clearly illustrated in your writing. If anything, I felt your articles demonstrated competence in understanding the code, and not a lack thereof.

As Mr. Bracken has a financial interest in the "work" he does with the codes, his letter means about as much to me as the toilet paper I flush down the drain every morning. As the vice chair of my state's PE board, his condescending and arrogant opinions of your articles' perspectives (along with the snide personal jib) are unprofessional and unbecoming of a person is his position. Sadly, I'm not surprised. I also cannot ignore the implication that the more convoluted the code is, the more books and classes on "interpretation" can be sold to building and engineering professionals based on his self-described role with the ICC.

As a side note to the content of Mr. Bracken's letter, the only unreinforced masonry I see down here in FLORIDA is in bags on the sides of canals or as a pad under an A/C unit. In fact, every piece of unreinforced masonry I've seen down here has failed. Every one. But hey I'm not the vice-chair of the FLORIDA PE board so what do I, Mr. Contractor, and all the other PE's know...

I am indentured under the Florida Building Code (FBC), which, is an IBC & IRC-clone with an extra layer of Florida-specific convolution on top for good measure.

The number one problem I see with the code is that it is too black and white on several less significant items, and simultaneously has too many shades of grey on areas of high importance, rife with contradictions. attempts at simplifying FBC has been made, though poorly. However, to address your poll:

1) NOT user friendly; The organization of the topics and the logical flow is rediculous, akin to reading the state statutes. In some respects, more authority in design should be given to the engineers of record. By trying to cover every possible case scenario, there are so many exceptions to be considered, that you end up with conflicting code like you describe in your articles. Would it not be easier to say, "The engineer of record shall specify the masonry reinforcement, though the minimum reinforcement shall not be less than <blah> on footers over soils with a LBR of less than <blah>"

2) DOES NOT produce consistent results on any topic where interpretation is allowed- it varies by the building official. On the most common items of dispute, maybe put a simple picture in there illustrating "acceptable" and "not acceptable". Perhaps Mr. Bracken can draw the pictures for us and help clear up the confusion on these various topics.

3) Can find SOME items quickly and easily, others, basically, no. When the code references a standard or publication that is not readily available, that's a problem. Instead of getting the answer to what I need to know about, I get to track down some obscure 2-page ASCE or industry publication that I have to pay $95 for.


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Old 04-03-2013, 07:48 AM   #4
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Re: Our Building Codes - Good, Bad, Or Ugly?


Quote:
Originally Posted by ScipioAfricanus View Post
I suppose that if I were able to take intense and rather lengthy courses in reading and interpreting the building codes, IBC and IRC from those who are steeped in it's complexities, I might, at some time, find it to not so difficult.
I simply do not have the time nor the money for such courses even if thay were offered somewhere close and at a convenient time.

But then, all of the Building officials that I have to work with would need to attend the classes also so that we would all be 'working on the same page' as it were.

My two cents anyway.

Andy.

Building codes are often made by people who don't know much about building. Some produce good results while others are useless.
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Old 04-03-2013, 09:05 AM   #5
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Re: Our Building Codes - Good, Bad, Or Ugly?


There are many good, practical and purposeful codes. However there are a lot that make no sense to me. I take the bad with the good.
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Old 04-03-2013, 09:29 AM   #6
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Re: Our Building Codes - Good, Bad, Or Ugly?


I'm no expert on building codes or concrete at that but the reply from this guy gives me the impression he has never had to use the code book day to day in his life. It sounds like he sits behind a desk writing codes for people who do the work yet has never done a days labour in his life having to use the code book.

I once watched a guy just like this try to follow the designs he made to build a piece of equipment when I was working building ink cooling systems for massive printers. Everyone would complain his designs were too complicated to follow. yet would constantly fight the people who built the product by saying "A kid could build these designs". He was sent out in the warehouse one morning to show everyone how easy these designs were to follow. He didn't even make it to the end of the first section of the 8 part build process. He then admitted than running them through your head is nothing like real life situations and that his design instructions were almost impossible to follow.

A kids Lego book was put together better than his instructions
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Old 04-03-2013, 12:32 PM   #7
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Re: Our Building Codes - Good, Bad, Or Ugly?


The most important part of the response - what was missing. I didn't see a clear defense of how "plain concrete" is defined, or even a definition of "plain concrete" with a reference, much less an example of finding where unreinforced concrete can be used.

I don't view the code as "linear, sequential, and complex", as asserted. It doesn't correspond to any real world design sequence I've been involved with, except at the crudest levels, and NFPA life safety seems worse. I think that someone making a living off of giving classes on how to follow it supports my position. The fact that guides to the IBC, IRC and NFPA Lifesafety 101 are pretty popular is also telling.

OK, so the guy's a macaroon, that's life.
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Old 04-04-2013, 03:48 PM   #8
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Re: Our Building Codes - Good, Bad, Or Ugly?


The ICC has lost their way. The biggest problem I see with the IBC is it's very much a maze and it can be diffucult to follow for those of us that run construction companies. We don't sit down a study an read every section on a daily basis like those in the code offices or architectural and engineering firms. Every few years the ICC sits down and makes changes. Unfortunatly they continue to make it more difficult for the end user instead of easier. Instead of adding to the code each session, they should have a goal of getting ride of 100 pages each session of the 650 odd pages in just the IBC. Most of us don't make code violations for the fun of it, we make the mistakes because the code is confusing even for those of use that referance them on a regular basis.

Those of us in our area are fortunate to have building officials that are willing to help ou through this maze. (mess) I feel sorry for those in places like Fl, CA, IL where the building officials aren't as helpful and the attitude is different.
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Old 04-05-2013, 11:38 AM   #9
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Re: Our Building Codes - Good, Bad, Or Ugly?


The biggest problem I see with the ICC is their prejudice to contractors. The opinion seems to be the building officials know all and contractors no nothing. At one time, I thought it would be a good idea to join ICC, as I have for other professional orgs, such as NFPA, NAFED, ORFED and NFSA. I got a letter saying as I was not a BO, I could not join their club. I understand that has supposedly changed. But the bias remains.

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