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Fw: '97 UBC Design - Are you too old to change your ways???

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-----Original Message-----
From: r nester <rnester(--nospam--at)>
To: seaint(--nospam--at) <seaint(--nospam--at)>
Date: Thursday, September 23, 1999 12:59 AM
Subject: Re: '97 UBC Design - Are you too old to change your ways???

>It is commonly reported that of the 20 billion in damage caused by the
>>earthquake, 15 billion was in residential construction.  Add to that
>>the fact
>I see this line of thinking as a weak, overly simplified  straw man
>arguement.  Of the $15B, how much was non-structural damage unrelated to
>structural strength?  How much was due to water damage, soil movements,
>secondary fires, loss of use, temporary housing, and code-driven
>upgrades?  Of the structural damage, what portion was for homes designed
>and built before 1976?  How did homes built to the 1988-91 UBC's fare in
>relation to others?
>What we now have, as I see it, is a class of structures which may well be
>grossly overdesigned for seismic
>Russ Nester

One must remember that little of the code is written by actual
practitioners, i.e.; folks who actually do the work and sign the plans ( Ah
for life in the Ivory Tower). This is especially true in wood/residential
practice. The IT folks are so out of touch with reality that they think that
writing an obscurely worded building code will somehow change the loss
equation.  Let's see here, wood is still easily obtained, economical and
easily worked building material, in fact anyone with a hammer and saw can
build it, and does (do?). The amount of wood construction that is subject to
engineering by real structural engineers is undoubtedly quite small (why
spend the money, my nephew took drafting), yet it is that small minority of
responsible folks that are getting creamed by the code/codewriters (not to
mention lawyers).

In my (limited) wood experience, time spent for member design (that part of
the effort which can be computerized) is an almost insignificant portion of
the total. The bulk of time is spent in determining, establishing and
completing load paths and providing details for same.

 Now we're ready for my point: All this is a small tail which can't possibly
wag the "$15 B" dog. Typically, inspectors are incapable of understanding
these details, builders ignore them and owners/developers don't want to pay
for them.

So what's an appropriate answer by SEAOC?

1. Define the problem with respect to structural engineering practice.
Clearly it is not "$15B damage".

2. Engage real practitioners in the change process (and this is not at all
limited to wood frame work,  it is a problem in every section of the
code....want to talk concrete?).  "Engage" means solicit ( ASK FOR)
comments, freely publish drafts (how hard could that be via the internet?)
and do this BEFORE code changes are sent to IBCBO. And remember, real
practitioners have to work for a living and can't spend a large part of
their time at meetings....but hey who needs to be face to face in the
Electronic Age?

Do I think it will happen?  Until John Shipp commented I had no hope
whatever as the IT folks are too entrenched and depend too much on the image
of expert that committee membership confers, but now there may be at least a
small chance. I hope that the dialog regarding wood will continue and not be
limited to that material.

Change? Sure I'll change, even tho I'm over the half-century that's been
bandied about, but  I do resent ill-considered elitist BS.