Not knowing if this letter to the editor of Structural Engineer magazine
(regarding their article on the apparent competing building codes--IBC and
NFPA 5000--with which we are apparently going to have to deal) will be
published, I thought I'd post it here for perusal and comment:
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I just read with interest the referenced article.
As an owner of a one-man structural engineering practice, I'd like to give a
little input and perspective about an implication of this controversy that
is likely NOT uppermost in the minds of the movers and shakers of the
I live and practice near Houston. Texas does not have a state-wide building
code. The City of Houston uses UBC, but most other outlying cities and
unincorporated areas use SBC. However, one of the larger suburbs, Pasadena,
So I have to have the appropriate volumes of EACH of these building codes
available in my library, and of course must update them as subsequent
revisions are issued and adopted. This is NOT an inconsiderable expense for
a firm like mine, where every dime has to be squeezed for what it's worth.
Add to that the necessity of keeping up-to-date versions of the applicablle
ACI, AISC, AISI, AF&PA, TMS and other design standards, and it is quite easy
for me to spend thousands of dollars just in keeping "state of the art" with
my design reference works each year.
I have not yet spent the money on the IBC, as it isn't even on the horizon
yet in my locality, but I'm sure it will be eventually. But it would have
been nice to think that I was only going to have to worry about purchasing a
single building code update from time to time, but with the announcement of
NFPA 5000, it looks as though there will have to be at least TWO. Again,
this is not an inconsiderable expense for my small firm, and I would venture
to guess that there are many, many others in my predicament.
As a sidebar, with the promise of NFPA's offering, I may well see the time
when I have to juggle FIVE building codes (as some of the smaller
jurisdictions won't bother to adopt the later codes) just to make sure I
have the standard needed for a particular project! What a mass of confusion!
William L. Polhemus, Jr., P.E.
Polhemus Engineering Company
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