First, to Eric and others I apologize for being defensive to Yank's comments.
Yank and I are and have been close friends for over twelve years. Friends
need not always agree and I need to remember this.
I too agree with Eric that certain portions of the code are overkill. My
position is not that the code is bad, but that it is used, at the expense of
the public, to cover-up other larger problems that we, as a professional
community, have either not tried to change or been able to change.
The building industry should be defined as a coalition of architects,
engineers and builders. To this day, there is no politically active building
industry proponents that are willing to sit down and correct the problems
that exist in residential (or any other material for that matter)
construction. I choose residential construction because it affects the
largest number of building in this country (if not the world) that has
suffered the greatest percentage of costly damage in natural disasters.
Engineers don't need to overdesign, they need to work with other profession
to work out a program of education for those who build what we design. The
BIA and other building organizations, need to take responsibility for the
damage that occurred in various natural disasters that was clearly attributed
to errors and omissions. Engineers have to take responsibility to update the
Wood section of the code so that prescriptive measures are clearer and
without errors as currently exists the UBC. We need to raise the standard of
prescriptive design so that it at least meets the minimum requirements that
we set for all other wood frame construction.
I don't particularly want to debate the argument of life safety against
damage mitigation. The code has already established the policy that we are
designing to a performance standard. The insurance industry has already
proven that the cost (which I would remind each of use comes from our
pockets) to repair damaged buildings is unacceptable. Architects resent the
fact that engineers are involved in area's of design that they need not be.
Engineers want to stop architects from crossing over and performing
structural work. Builders who construct the structural systems of a building
presently need not know any more than how to swing a hammer. As the codes get
more complicated, there should be a demand to make the framer responsible for
his part of constructing the structural system. His education should be, at
the least, an understanding of the load path so that he can protect the
design from changes that tend to occur when the engineer is not around and
the owner or GC wishes to add an opening into an area where a shearwall
occurs. Better yet, how about the mechanical who needs to put HVAC ducting
through the blocking that happens to occur above a high load shear wall. Or,
the plumber who decides to bastardize a sill plate for a toilet vent or water
pipes. In most cases there are fixes for these problems. Maybe one is to
relocate the wall, however there are opportunities to manufacture new
products that will allow these protrusions and still transfer shear.
My point is that we are moving in the wrong direction. I don't blame the
committee members that seek out better performance from the code. I just
believe that we are completely ignoring the bigger problem and possibly fear
the effort that it will take to change a big lobby like contractors and
Since I have the floor, I recommend those interested go back to the archives
and review the comments about the REACH (Residential Engineers and Architects
Council on Housing) sponsored by the NAHB-RC that we had on the list. NAHB-RC
started a great idea to define the building partnership of Architects,
Engineers, Builders and Officials. Then NAHB-RC got greedy and decided the
only way to benefit the industry was to charge those interested in working on
this committee a members fee of $100.00 to help improve construction.
This is one program like the SEAINT that should not restrict progress by
fee's but should generate its income differently. The most important thing
was to promote those with opinions to participate.
I'll quite while I'm ahead. We need to focus on the real problems, not mask
them at the expense of the general public.
Dennis S. Wish PE