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Re: Turkey Earthquake, Survivors Lead Calls to Punish the Builders

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Although the enforcement of construction practices is much better here 
(especially for high occupancy structures) we have a similar problem in 
residential construction. We can do little to improve the quality of 
construction because of the strong lobby (politics) from the construction 
industry. I know that there have been posts to this list about all of the 
fine advancments in construction training and expectations of the industry in 
the comming years, but damage to property associated with earthquakes and 
hurricanes has little change of improving by making building codes more 
restrictive. We still fail to change the major causes of damage to structures 
in this country - construction deficiencies.
The new wood frame methodologies are a perfect example. The code still allows 
prescriptive methods that were tied to excessive damage and promotes 
(indirectly) use of these prescriptive methods by virtue of making compliant 
engineered solutions much more restrictive. In my opinion, this will lead to 
a greater potential for damage to lower and middle income structures allowed 
to be designed and build by prescriptive methodologies (conventional framing).

In one report I read, the author stated that there is insufficient income in 
Turkey compared to the USA where the building owner can design high degrees 
of resistance in to expensive custom homes. 
The sad fact is that no matter how expensive the home is the owner is only 
concerned with finish and view - rarely, if ever, with the structural 
integrety of the home. The assumption is that the code protects the owner 
from deficiencies, when it reality is simply passes liability for poor 
construction upon the designers and does little to insure the qualifications 
and abilities of those who impliment the design.

The public is simply apathetic to safety and assume that government regulated 
codes protect them from harm - how naive!

I have not doubt that in a major earthquake or Hurricane, the people of the 
United States will be better protected from loss of life, however, until we 
start to address the quality of construction and the capabilities of those 
who commit to building these structures we will never be able to improve 
performance. The only thing that we will be able to insure is that only those 
with money can afford to build to the minimum engineered solutions 
established by code. All others will be at the mercy of the developers and 
profiteers who will easily convert to prescriptive methods and claim equal 
performance and safety levels.

Someday the industries have to wake up and hopefully it will be before too 
many are homeless in the U.S. 

Dennis S. Wish PE