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RE: Building Codes used prior to 1927?

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>From a structural point of view I do not think that even if there were codes
adopted prior to '27 that they would have had much impact on the structural
design of buildings relative to today's thinking.  Most of what had been
codified by then had more to do with fire protection that structural.  The
larger cities in Calif. with denser populations no doubt had codes.  San
Francisco, Oakland, Santa Barbara, and Los Angeles. But most of California
was rural farm land where codes did little to promote the "Health, Safety &
General Welfare."  The Alameda may not have even been paved yet.  Architects
and engineers used the tools at hand to do design probably with little
oversight.  I think that if you wish to verify old designs you might be
better off with handbooks from the period or about the period.  For example
ACI or PCA put out a publication a few years ago summarizing antiquated
concrete designs dating back to the turn of the century.  Keep in mind also
that methods of analysis that were appropriate 80 years ago may now under or
overestimate strength.  I have heard that one could put another 10 or 20
stories on the Empire State Building given that its steel frame is over
designed relative to today's thinking.   Also some jurisdictions do keep
files of major buildings on record.  We have pulled prints from Long Beach
dated 1933 and Fullerton from the depression era.  Now I was not around in
the 20's.  But then again I doubt that many hundred year old engineers are
reading this list to tell me I am wrong.  I am not sure that I have helped
with your question, but it depends on why you are asking.  By the way you
did not say how far back in California history your were interested in. If
your structure was built much prior to 1860 the laws governing California
were written in Spanish and I am not sure we could discuss them on this

George Richards, P. E.

-----Original Message-----
From: Rodriguez, Marlou [mailto:mrodriguez(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Friday, October 20, 2000 2:42 PM
To: 'SEAINT Newslist'
Subject: Building Codes used prior to 1927?

Does anyone know what building codes were used to design buildings prior to
1927, the year that the first edition of the Uniform Building Code was
published.  I know "The Code of Hammurabi was used back in 3000 BC" but that
is too far back for me.  I am primarily concerned about northern california.

Thanks for your help

Marlou B. Rodriguez
Biggs Cardossa Associates Inc.
Structural Engineers
1871 The Alameda, Suite 200
San Jose, California 95126