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Re: December 4, 1999, Seismology Committee Recommendations.

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At 03:59 PM 12/12/99 EST, Frank McClure wrote:

Someone should clarify if the International Residential Code will supersede 
the International One- and Two- Family Dwelling Code when the International 
Residential Code is adopted and/or has been adopted by the ICC.
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Two documents that recently arrived in the mail speak to this issue. How
much clarity results is for the reader to discern, same as for how much
comfort and reassurance might be found.

First, here are some remarks by veteran (and residential construction adept)
SEAOC-Central Section Code Committee Chair Doug Krug, excerpted from his
two-page report in the Dec. 1999 issue of Central's Newsletter:

        "[Besides developing the IBC,] The ICC is also developing a
International Residential Code (IRC) concurrent with the IBC. At this time
it is not certain how this code integrates with the IBC -- some scope and
administrative topics concerning the two codes remain unresolved. Adding to
the complexity is a code process for the IRC that differs in philosophy and
deliberation from that used by the IBC. It is not unusual for an issue to be
voted "approved" for the IBC and the same issue to be voted as "disapproved"
for the IRC.

        "How these two codes coexist administratively remains at debate.
Alan Robinson of SEAONC, and our current SEAOC/CODE Chair, has volunteered
his time as SEAOC Representative to the IRC process and remains the most
familiar with its state of development."

The other info came as an attachment to the long-form agenda for the Calif.
PE Board's SE Technical Advisory Committee meeting for Dec 15, 1999. (I
subscribe to the PE Board's long agenda mailings at my own expense; it's a
higher cost than than my SEAOC dues.) In this agenda is a reprint of an
column in the Third Quarter, 1999, issue of Calif. Building Industry Assn.
Journal, by CBIA Technical Director Bob Raymer, who reports:

        "In July, the [Calif.] Building Standards Commission ratified the
recommendations of the Code 2000 Advisory Group regarding which of the
competing national model building codes will be used as the basis for the
state code [the 2001 edition of Calif Bldg Code etc.] that takes effect in
the year 2002. The national codes gaining CBSC approval were:

        "The IBC and IRC as published by the ICC; the Uniform Plumbing Code
and Mechanical Codes, as published by the Int'l Assn of Plumbing and
Mechanical Officials; and the Uniform Fire Code, as published by the Western
Fire Chiefs Assn."

In short, ICC's Building and Residential model codes are both going to be
used, but ICC's model codes for mechanical, plumbing, and fire were rejected
by the CBSC for California.
    
Mr Raymer explained that, "several state agencies suggested staying with the
1997 Edition of the UBC rather than switching over to the new International
Building/Residential Codes as a way of reducing the 'administrative
workload'. This meant extensive comparative analysis had to be done on
national codes covering FOUR subject areas." (regarding IBC/IRC as a single
subject area.) The Advisory Group however recommended switching to the IBC
and IRC, which apparently conform to federal FEMA demands, unlike the 97
UBC, and that position prevailed.

So who's the "Code 2000 Advisory Group"?  According to Mr Raymer, this
reportedly is a body "...established by the CBSC in 1998, comprising of over
sixty private and public entities, seven state agencies and a total of 193
individual participants. The first task of the Advisory Group was to conduct
a comprehensive review of the competing model codes."  Their next job is "to
review the chosen codes for formatting and content conflicts and offer
suggestions on resolving those conflicts." 

There is also a newly strengthened legislative mandate in California that
apparently requires eliminating all those California amendments to the model
code that fail to satisfy a re-justification process. (Adoption of the model
codes into their official California versions routinely encumbers them with
scads of amendments.) 

It would appear that where "content conflicts" (and belatedly recognized
"mistakes" such as Rho for plywood shearwalls) are identified, the same
review processes are available to correct such problems, post-ICC adoption,
but pre-CBSC adoption. Certainly many SEAOC members are involved in this
review-and-fix process as employees of state agencies, but what about for
the private sector?  I wonder what role, if any, SEAOC per se has in this
review, and if there is any role, whether persons representing SEAOC
perceive any duty to represent the interests of that part of the SEAOC
membership that actually practices and specializes in various types of
woodframe buildings of the sort people live in.

To maybe answer the above question in part, Doug Krug's newsletter report
refers to a "2000 Code Partnership" and says that the SEAOC representative
to it is Larry Summerfield, also of Central Section, whom I know on our
local Code Committee. What about Seismology Committee, which appears to have
retaken control of residential woodframe lateral force issues from Code? 

And what practical effect does committee participation really have? As Doug
Krug diplomatically understated, IBC timelines from day one have been so
badly compressed that local committee members cannot get code proposals in
their hands in time to give anything but a drop-everything cursory review
before the deadline for response passes. An impression has jelled over the
last four years that no response does any good anyway. The latest episode of
that concerns input to the 2003 IBC, which of course is an amended 2000 IBC.
Deadline for these amendments to the 2000 IBC was Nov 1,1999, but the 2000
IBC, although adopted by IBC, is not even in print yet, let alone in use.
Only insiders and code groupies have much sense of what's in it, by virtue
of constant immersion in the soup kettle from the start.  

I get the idea that more participants on SEAOC codewriting committees is not
the magic answer to codewriting ills it's claimed to be. As long as being a
local committee participant remains as helpful and influential as being a
barnacle on a whale's back, discontent with the real codewriters (and their
irritation by crusty little folk) may persist.   

Charles O. Greenlaw, SE   Sacramento CA