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Re: Rigid Diaphragm Analysis

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Oshin has a valid point. Some of the structures that were insured had code 
upgrade as part of their coverage. In many cases the Insurance industry tried 
to deny the additional cost to bring a non-compliant home up to current code 
in regards to anchorage, cripple wall sheathing and much more. This was met 
with a lot of resistance, however, in all of the repair projects that I was 
involved with I was able to help the owner - especially when the repair work 
was based upon the emergency codes that were in force at the time. This 
generally brought them up to greater levels of safety than previously existed.
I would have to dig again, but the 20 Billion figure applied only to those 
structures that were covered by insurance - not the many that were not. I do 
not know if this figure also included Federal money that was made available 
to home owners from FEMA. 
My experience was that the FEMA money, although greatful that it was there, 
did not come near covering the cost of repair by those who were uninsured. I 
might conclude that the cost of damage to residential structures was much 
higher than the 20 Billion figure.
Very few of the damaged homes posed a life safety threat. I don't think that 
this is really what motivated the majority of concern. I believe this was due 
to the ecconomic burden that it placed upon society and upon the Insurance 
industry. The social impact was considerable if you consider those 
neighborhoods where the owners were not able to afford to repair the damage 
or forced to move out and not return. Driving through area's of Los Angeles 
in certain area's still remind people of the devastation that was not 
resolved.

This is probably one of the driving forces behind code changes, but the 
question is if this is a valid reason when there are other variables in play. 
If the causes of the majority of the damage is attributed to construction 
ommissions or defects, then enhancing the code does not solve the problem. 
The resolution comes from engineers and other professionals taking more 
responsiblity in the field. The bigger issue is how to mandate more education 
for the builder who is constructing a structural system and has never been 
required to interpret the code. 

Some might argue that code interpretation is not the responsiblity of 
contractors or home owners. I disagree when the code making community 
provides a prescriptive method. The layperson must then be aware and comply 
with those provisions - something that has not been adequately enforced.

I believe this is the root of the problem and we, as a professional 
community, are doing little to overcome historic obstacals which will cause 
these problems to proliferate.

Dennis Wish PE