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Re: Prescriptive Residential Construction Vs New Design Standards; Curee-Caltech Project

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At 01:05 PM 10/2/98 -0700, Dennis Wish, responding to a reply by Bob Bossi,

>Tell me where, in this section of the code, it lead the non-professional to
>a prescriptive beam or header design? It does mention that headers need to
>be designed but does not stipulate how or by whom. Therefore, the building
>official historically accepts the contractor or builders plans which
>arbitrarily pick header and beam sizes.
>What happens when a prescriptive set of plans is submitted for permit
>issuance and the building department technician is neither an engineer of
>architect? As long as his interpretation matchs the contractors (who must
>have historically been doing it right to get so many permits in our town)
>who finds the mistakes?
>Is the framer or designer expected to sign the plans to verify that he or
>she has designed in compliance with conventional framing and understands
>both the rhetoric and intention of this code section? Or, is compliance to
>conventional framing standards the responsiblity of the building official to
 CG Comment: The UBC has only a little entry on prescriptive beams or
headers. A paragraph in sec 2326 has a prescriptive header for openings of 4
ft or less in bearing walls. Otherwise, it says the headers "shall be
designed to support the loads specified in this code." Elsewhere the code
places on the the building official the role of *enforcing* compliance,
without relieving others of the need to *be* in compliance.  

As such, it would appear that "detection" is the responsibility of the
building official. There doesn't appear to be any penalty sanction against
anyone for noncompliance other than the need to correct the plans (or the
work in place) to gain compliance. Should there be additional incentives?
Should submitting noncomplying plans become a punishable crimimal act? (I
mean other than what the licensing boards call such deeds.)

In California, the question of who decides whether headers need to be
designed, and by whom if they do, was addressed by act of the legislature in
1985, with SEAOC's blessings:

Sec 6737.1(b) of Cal Business and Professions Code (the PE Act) provides as
follows: "If any PORTION of any structure exempted by this section deviates
from substantial compliance with conventional framing requirements for wood
frame construction found in ...[the building code]...the building official
having jurisdiction shall require the preparation of
plans,drawings,specifications,or calculations FOR THAT PORTION by,or under
the direct supervision of,a licensed architect or registered engineer." The
same language appears in the Architects Practice Act at sec 5537, and is
reprinted  in the big reference book the Contractors Board publishes on the
Contractors License Law. These boards have continuing outreach programs to
educate building officials on these laws and the need to enforce them.

If all of the above is insufficient to settle the question, then what else
is there? Harass the engineers still willing to design the non-exempt
portions with yet more code complexity, and widen the alienation between
them and their clients that Bill Allen wrote of? Looking over the lofty
status of roleplayers in this new Curee-Caltech Woodframe Project (and the
reformist fervor of some of them) it's hard to imagine a sufficiently
down-to-earth approach to do any good, unless all future woodframe work is
transferred to the aerospace industry and taken from local jurisdiction
enforcement. Probably the woodframe residence design engineer will wind up
more tightly trapped than ever between utopia and reality. 

Charles O. Greenlaw, SE   Sacramento CA