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Re: ICBO California Legislative Alert

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I have to agree with Roger Turk on this issue.
I too received the first draft of the IBC and was at a lost for where to send 
my comments. I did submit them to those members of SEAOSC who I was told 
would be involved in this committee work (for the Wood section). I have 
received no response as to whether or not the comments were received.

A few weeks ago I posted a series of questions on this list regarding 
residential design and the need for rigid diaphragm analysis. The majority of 
the responses felt that seismology committee was placing the cart before the 
horse by releasing a code that would penalize residential construction 
without addressing the root of the problem -- poor construction quality.

The '97 UBC will be adopted (or is it the California State Code) by local 
building departments in my area in July. Residential construction will be hit 
in three ways:
1. Increases in lateral forces due to the building proximity to known active 
faults.
2. Additional forces distributed in the shear resisting system from Torsion 
(rigid diaphragm).
3. 40% or more increase in lateral loading to the entire structure when 
embedded columns are used in remote areas of the residence -- including 
porte-cochere's, and garages.

Consider This with the reduction of plywood (as noted by one of our other 
list members) and residential products will push the limit on affordability 
for new home owners and not protect the structure from construction defects. 
IMHO, the only worthwhile code change is a stricter enforcement of structural 
observation requirements and this can be done without penalizing the public.

With that said, the '94 AND '97 UBC increase the scope of compliance to the 
Conventional Wood Frame Construction or Prescriptive measures. These 
prescriptive measures have not changed except in minor degrees for the last 
three code cycles. From sample comparisons, they admittedly do not meet the 
minimum standards of engineering suggested by noncompliant structures (the 
majority except residential) which must meet the three provisions noted above.

So how are we correcting the problem with we allow builders to choose which 
product they would like to build. I'm not complaining about potential loss of 
work because a builder decides to use a prescriptive approach. What I 
disagree with is that the code seems to identify a need to increase the 
design criteria for most structures (including residential) and those done by 
Conventional Framing standards will really be Conventional Framing 
Sub-standards.

I think we are afraid to face the real problem -- how to unite architects, 
engineers and builders and how to promote certification and education of 
those who choose to build structural systems. 
We don't need stronger codes when SEAOSC decides to publish a formal letter 
in this months Newsletter that indicates the main cause of damage is 
recognized to be poor construction or noncompliance to designs. CUREe / 
Caltech's November newsletter stated the same thing.

So, why the heck are we making codes more restrictive instead of lobbying to 
improve construction quality?

Dennis S. Wish PE