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RE: UBC Commentary[Subject Prev][Subject Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
- To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
- Subject: RE: UBC Commentary
- From: "Becker, Rick" <RBecker(--nospam--at)mail.ci.burbank.ca.us>
- Date: Tue, 21 Dec 1999 17:50:03 -0800
>No secret. Except for the courts, the building official, >not ICBO, is the final interpreter of the building code >and ICBO does not want to be drawn into the middle >of a dispute between the building official and some >applicant for a permit. This is especially true, if their >opinion was to be used against the building official. >Of course, if the applicant believes that ICBO would >support his or her position, then asking the building >official to seek ICBO's interpretation would be appropriate. ================================================== The following ICBO Code Interpretation Policy is posted at www.icbo.org REB ICBO Code Interpretation Policy by Jon Traw (January - February 1998) Based on the number of written and telephone inquiries handled by the Conference's technical staff, it is apparent that requests for interpretations of code provisions are high on the list of services requested by the Conference membership. From its inception, this service was designed to assist enforcing jurisdictions in the application and understanding of the code provisions contained within the Uniform Codes promulgated by the International Conference of Building Officials. Demand for interpretation services has accelerated as the Conference has grown and has resulted in an ever-increasing number of total requests from all segments of those involved in the construction process, i.e., code officials, architects, engineers, contractors and building owners. The litigious nature of our society has also led to numerous requests from code consultants and attorneys. The increase may be at least partially attributed to increased litigation and reluctance to exercise one's judgement as freely as in the past. Regardless of the reason, the demand for interpretation services from the Conference has increased almost exponentially. This phenomenon is not expected to decrease, and as the code provisions become more complex, there is a need to be extremely careful as to how one interprets the code requirements. What is the ICBO policy on responding to requests for interpretations of the Uniform Codes which the Conference publishes? As with any corporation, the policies are formulated and adopted by the board of directors elected to represent the Conference membership. The adopted policy states: Code interpretations involving specific job situations are to be given only to representatives of a Class A member having jurisdiction. Staff shall expedite responses to building officials or persons initiating inquiries. If any person initiating an inquiry does not wish the response to be sent to the building official, staff is to advise the inquirer by telephone or correspondence to deal with the authority having jurisdiction. It is clear that requests for code interpretations from other than representatives of Class A members are not to be answered when specific construction projects are involved. The reasons for this are fairly straightforward and simple. First, the Conference staff is unaware of local amendments which may have been adopted by the authority having jurisdiction and, thus, may influence the appropriate response. Second, the authority having jurisdiction is the individual charged with the responsibility for interpretation of the codes as outlined in Section 202 (a) of the Uniform Building Code : "The building official shall have the power to render interpretations of this code. . . ." In addition, the details of specific projects are certainly understood by the authority having jurisdiction because the authority is responsible for the plan review process and familiar with the conditions and local environment. To potentially place Conference staff in the middle of a dispute is inappropriate. Our experience in responding to code interpretations over a period of many years has not yielded a case where the authority having jurisdiction refused to consult with the Conference staff when requested to do so by an applicant. The Conference staff is to function as an advisor to the building official, and this is best performed only in a relationship directly with the authority having jurisdiction. Approximately half of the code interpretations by Conference staff currently come from persons other than the authority having jurisdiction. The policy specifically states the inquirer is to be advised that the response will be sent to the building official and further discussion should take place between the inquirer and the building official. Members of the Conference other the representatives of Class A members have expressed a desire to benefit directly from discussions with ICBO staff on code interpretation issues. To offer such a service not other than Class A members would, however, place the Conference staff in a position where they might be offering advice on an issue involving state or local requirements of which they are unaware and over which they do not have legal responsibility. The benefit of the thinking of the ICBO staff must, therefore, be offered to architects and engineers through a process that begins with the building official of the authority having jurisdiction. In an effort to reduce the number of times that application of a code provision is unclear to a code user, the Conference strives to provide publications, education and training materials explaining the code provisions. The Handbook to the Uniform Building Code, Uniform Building Code Application/Interpretation Manual, Plan Review Manual, Building Standards magazine and video training tapes are just a portion of the materials intended to address the interpretation issue. The offerings will continue to improve and will result in a better-informed individual whether he or she is a code official, engineer, architect, contractor or building owner. One of the primary reasons for publishing this article on the Conference's code interpretation policy is to ensure all members have a clear understanding as to the specific board policy and the reasons for the policy. Arguments for varying our approach on code interpretations can certainly be put forth, but when considered within the legal authority, specific job knowledge and potential misuse, the scales weigh heaviest toward the present ICBO Board of Directors' position. Abuses of any policy are always something one must consider, but experience has thus far shown ICBO's policy to be in the best interest of the Conference and its membership.
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