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RE: Question for East Coast Engineers

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I agree, I think we touched on a common thread. Here is the next question.
It's a loaded one that I hope will bring the issue of Conventional Framing
to a national awareness rather than one which, up until today, has been very
much a California issue on my part.

There are many who responded and who feel that there are definite problems
related with allowing an Architect or Contractor to design by standards that
are incomplete, non-existent (as the case of UBC headers) or have lead to
potential construction related problems (other than the obvious total
failure or loss of life). Why, as a community of professional engineers, do
we allow the passage of codes that promote the use of something that we feel
is inferior? Do most of us not want to design small residential (or even
massive custom homes for that matter) or is the general consensus that there
is no sufficient evidence of loss of life or structural failures as defined
by the code?
What will be the requirement once a national code (or in the case of the
person from Guam who responded) or international code is adopted? Will every
jurisdiction be required to comply in the same manner?
Before I get flamed by those who know I have a personal crusade against the
conventional framing section of the code, let me say one more thing. I have
reviewed the '97 UBC and am appalled by the Conventional framing section of
this code. It is, IMO, much less restrictive and therefore potentially
hazardous than prior codes. On the other hand, I have reviewed the first
draft of the IBC and found that it is superior to past codes inasmuch as it
attempts to make some clear definitions of conventional framing.
My problem with the code is not one that requires the abolition of it, but
one that requires stricter measures and effective enforcement.
Therefore, where do we go to voice our concerns? Do we voice our concerns as
a consensus of those who agree that there are too many problems with this
section of the code that prevent equality with other sections of the code.
With this said, is it not unreasonable to assume that the ones to gain the
most from Conventional framing are those who profit the greatest from it's
use - the developer? And, is it not unreasonable to expect that the
potential homeowner know what level of performance his/her building was
designed to?


-----Original Message-----
From: Lew Midlam [mailto:Lew.Midlam(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Wednesday, May 06, 1998 6:07 PM
To: seaoc(--nospam--at)
Subject: Re: Question for East Coast Engineers

This thread seems to have brought out a few lurkers.  I see a few new names.

*I* didn't realize that there were so many non-CA subscribers.  Glad to have
y'all join in.

-----Original Message-----
From: Dennis S. Wish <wish(--nospam--at)>
To: seaoc(--nospam--at) <seaoc(--nospam--at)>
Date: Wednesday, May 06, 1998 7:59 PM
Subject: RE: Question for East Coast Engineers

>Lew, where is the prescriptive method for the design of headers? Someone
>threw this at me a few weeks ago and I never even considered that most
>contractors are building headers by rule of thumb. Does this suddenly put
>any structure into a non-compliance with conventional framing? Section
>2326.11.6 of the '94 UBC only specifies the width of headers and the
>amount of bearing at the ends. It does not state where the prescriptive
>measure for the depth of the headers can be found.
>Any comments?
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Lew Midlam [mailto:Lew.Midlam(--nospam--at)]
>Sent: Wednesday, May 06, 1998 3:28 PM
>To: seaoc(--nospam--at)
>Subject: Re: Question for East Coast Engineers
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Mike Brown <mike.brown(--nospam--at)>
>To: seaoc(--nospam--at) <seaoc(--nospam--at)>
>Date: Wednesday, May 06, 1998 5:51 PM
>Subject: Re: Question for East Coast Engineers
> The building officials should require engineering for
>>the houses that do not meet current conventional construction before
>>a permit
>This is exactly what is now being done throughout Florida.  A contractor
>apply for a permit, without engineering (for residences), using the code's
>'prescriptive' design, but they have to identify hold-downs, anchors,
>sheathing, door & window jambs & anchors, anchors, etc, etc. ; and submit
>pre-fab assemblies (such as roof trusses) fully designed, and with an
>engineer's seal.  And if anything is out of the norm (today's norm, not the
>way they've "always done it") then engineering is required.  Most, if not
>all, of the building departments are enforcing this approach.
>As I said in a previous post, Florida has learned its lesson.  Seismic
>zone=0,  Wind zone='way up there'.
>Lew Midlam, PE