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RE: Questions about Residential design and 1997 UBC

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A lot of this discussion originated from the fact that the Canadian Wood Council is interested in this subject as is the American Forest and Paper Associations and American Plywood Assoication. The National Association of Home Builders Research Center has been much closer to these organizations that many of us know.
While the engineers on the west coast have been resistant to change, these organizations have taken the iniative to try and improve the quality of homes.
Unfortunately, historic politics and professional discontent has not allowed those interested in improving the situation do so. I think that times are changing and the pressure upon building officials by the Insurance industry will be important in bringing professionals and builders together.
I started this thread with a reference to the proposed new committee of NAHB Research called the Residential Engineers and Architects Council on Housing (REACH). The intention of this group is to bridge a historic gap and define each member as a united team. The goal is to promote education and create better guidelines for prescriptive methodology.
With the announcement of the FEMA grant, it would be my hope that the efforts of each of these groups can, in some way, be linked (possibly through a SEAint sponsered Listservice).
This is something I intend to work on in hopes that we can help mitigate damage while limiting the involvement of design professional.
I urge those interested to notify their professional associations of their interest and have them provide names, numbers and email addresses so that we can help unite any who are interested.
My opinions are not meant to complicate or in any way interfer with the work being done under the provisions of the grant. I would only hope that a forum for discussion can be established that will provide Cal-Tech and others involved of some of the practical issues we see in the field on a daily bases.
Possibly, some of the photographs that many of us have taken of known deficiencies can be of use to the project.
I believe it is important to use the tools at hand to maintain open communication between REACH, CASE, SEA, NSPE, ASCE, LGSEA, AIA and others with interest in this issue.
Dennis Wish PE
-----Original Message-----
From: T [mailto:vicpeng(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Sunday, October 04, 1998 11:14 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Re: Questions about Residential design and 1997 UBC

-----Original Message-----
From: Robert J Bossi, PE <rjbossi(--nospam--at)>
To: seaint(--nospam--at) <seaint(--nospam--at)>
Date: Friday, October 02, 1998 10:09 AM
Subject: Re: Questions about Residential design and 1997 UBC


Dennis S. Wish PE wrote:

4. Prescriptive Residential Construction Vs New Design Standards -I feel that them as equivalent complying products.

It is true that conventionally framed buildings won't "calculate".  So what.  It is how they perform that counts.  Conventional construction has a long history of ........  

 .................................identify any areas where the answer is yes, then that is where the code need to be changed.   Anything else is regulation for regulation sake.

Remember, we can always add to the code to make construction more expensive but only at significant social costs.

Bob Bossi, PE
Past Chair, Conventional Construction Task Force


I too pay cognizance to the "where are the bodies ... etc" school of thought, however, with the very real increase in pressure, and liability, to be an "expert" in the any given structural situation, I am more and more returning to my previously discarded reasoning that, within reasonable accuracy, calculation must concur with "conventional", "gut-feel", "empirical", "experience", ... etc.  IMO it is no longer enough to say that "this is the way it's been since Adam was a cowboy and if it works don't mess with it ........ yada yada".  IMHO, as engineers, we should/must be able to align calculation with empirical.  Obviously the simpler a "unified" theory is the better.  Theories of relativity, gravitation etc are following these lines.

Is this not the basis of "scientific proof"?

Recently it was recognized that conventional trusses worked fine with allowable stress methods while it seemed that  Limit States Design indicated otherwise.  The discrepancy lies in the available fixities of the plate joints.  "Calculation" aligned with "experience".  Although a sample of 1 QED.

I am overjoyed that Dennis has initiated this (to me) very important discussion and that I am able to "listen in".  I wish that Canadian engineers will follow suit.

Thor A. Tandy   P.Eng,  MCSCE,  MIPENZ
Victoria, BC, Canada
e-mail: <vicpeng(--nospam--at)>