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RE: Terraced buildings

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From: 	Dennis McCroskey[SMTP:dennismc(--nospam--at)]
Sent: 	Wednesday, January 17, 1996 2:14 AM
To: 	seaoc(--nospam--at)
Subject: 	Terraced buildings

I am trying to find an interpetation of the number of stories for a terraced
house.  The house is on a sloped site and is terraced up the hill such that
no portion of the building is more than 2 stories at any one point.  The
planning department, after spending $15,000 on plans, and telling me it was
ok, has arbitrarily changed their mind and decided each level is considered
a story. A level is not a story.  Otherwise every stair tread, sunken living
rooms etc.would be considered a story.  This decision is arbitrary, with no
justification in their code, made by planning dept. officials who have no
liscense or professional credential other than being appointed by the board
of supervisors who won a popularity contest.

The cross section is represented below.

                                 1 story-br's
                1 story-office br's
1 story-living room/kit          
1 story-below grade garage

Is this a 2 story or 4 story building?  Is there a commentary or description
of terraced houses in the building code?

I'd like to know your thoughts.



If the purpose of *story* is for lateral analysis, it would appear as though you have a one and two story structure (if the sketch is accurate). The rational behind *level* could be interpreted (I am sketchy about this since the true meaning lies with the committee that authored the code section) for lateral distribution above a point of fixity - generally the top of grade or foundation wall. 
Since the purpose of lateral analysis is to control shear and drift based upon the demand created by the diaphragm, each diaphragm should be considered a *level* or *story* and distribution should be done accordingly. 
It appears from the sketch that as you approach the center of the structure, the number of levels above grade or foundation is two (unless this becomes subterannian). Where the upper bedroom occurs, it appears to rest on a lower level (office and Bdr) that is on a foundation in the hillside. This is what I base my assumptions upon.
I would argue that the number of levels is determinant upon the number of diaphragms above the point of fixity. 

Am I on-track with this?