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RE: IBC "Oops" (Was Residential Design Discu

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I'm now living just a little north of you (Salt Lake) after having moved
from California seven years ago. I still maintain a practice (mostly
wood frame residential) in CA and sometimes feel like I have a foot on
two very different docks. I too, have struggled with practicing wood
frame construction in a "low frequency, high impact" state and recognize
quite clearly the influence of the CA Structural Engineers Assn.'s
history and past impact on the seismic provisions of the building codes.

As each iteration of seismic design regulations makes it way into the
wood frame design community I become a bit more concerned that the
"rationale" is not fully justifiable. I listen to proponents suggest
that the insurance industry needs not only structurally undamaged
buildings, but also residences which don't suffer significant
non-structural losses and wonder if this is a better service and which
master is being served. It concerns me when we are caught between the
hard places and feel somewhat powerless to effect changes. I can
complain as well as the next guy about the power structures and hoops
one needs to jump through, but the bottom line is that where there's a
will, there's a way. We aren't going to be handed anything on a silver
plate and we might as well see ourselves plainly for what influence we
do have.

All that said, I don't have any qualms about pursuing an interest that
affects my livelihood. I've thickened my skin over the years and don't
hear the name calling quite as loudly as I once did. (Nor is my nose out
of position as frequently) It seems that through brute force we have
determined that the reality is a plan for change is needed. We can't be
effective unless we put this plan in action. And that the we is us.

So, I'm recommending to myself (and any others reading) that I figure
out where to spend my energy on this matter and gravitate toward that.
In Utah, I will have the Building Code commission to lobby as well as
the entire IBC process. I know that our SEAU seismic committee can
propose changes and it would seem appropriate that I ferret out what
irks me and get it before them.

For my California practice I need to dig further into the advice floated
so far on this list as well as seek opinion from persons like Fred
Turner of the California Seismic Safety Commission and others who can
help guide a most effective game plan. Perhaps it will be a joint effort
with others on this list, perhaps it will be a lone effort (although I
doubt it).

Lastly, a word on the IBC/IRC conundrum. This may be one for the long
term goals section of a plan, but worthy of the list. I too struggle
with just interpretation of when one controls over the other. SEAU and
others had recognized the strict wording of applicability was screwy and
has made recommendations (for the normal code change process) to clarify
that the IBC can be used in lieu of the IRC for wood frame construction.
(We also pursued several other changes).

This is way too wordy for me since I started out wanting to just agree
with a few points in your post. I do believe however, that the life of
this thread has got to say something about the interest level and not
just the desire to defend SEAOC.

Barry H. Welliver

-----Original Message-----
From: Roger Turk [mailto:73527.1356(--nospam--at)] 
Sent: Tuesday, October 01, 2002 11:59 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: IBC "Oops" (Was Residential Design Discu

Permit some comments from an outsider.

Here in Arizona, an area of infrequent large earthquakes (formerly
Zone 2), we don't get into the high powered seismic design that you
people on 
the west coast do, but I can, and do, appreciate what California
Engineers have contributed to seismic design.

As each earthquake struck, California Structural Engineers have refined
requirements for structural design to the extent that loss of life in
recent destructive earthquakes in California could be termed "minimal" 
compared to loss of life in similar earthquakes in other parts of the
It should also be recognized that only a few of the historical
earthquakes could be considered "large", i.e., greater than 7.0.  The
of California Structural Engineers, and the acceptance into the UBC by
is *the* reason that loss of life has been kept so low.

Now, we have IBC, IRC, NEHRP, BSSC, etc., with controlling votes by
who have never been in an earthquake, and who have probably never
for an earthquake, determining what the seismic design policies for the 
entire U.S. should be --- the one size fits all concept of the IBC/IRC.

Based on someone's comment on this list, it seems the consensus process 
requires a unanimous vote, thus someone who hasn't done any seismic
has never seen seismic damage, and thinks that a proposal is too
can cause important provisions to not be in the code.

When provisions of the IBC/NEHRP have been incorporated into new
in earthquake country, Mother Nature is going to strike again, proving
who is 
in control.  Then it will be a process of reinventing the wheel all over

again, whereas California Structural Engineers had already invented the 
"wheel" and have been refining it over the past 70 or so years.

As I have complained before, the changeover to the IBC/IRC has been too
too fast, changing to a common code format in one code cycle, and then
to the 
IBC two code cycles later.  Nobody really knows what is in the IBC and
it really means as it is a hodge-podge of the 3 former model codes.  The
is a joke in itself as it is merely a rewrite of the BOCA "One and Two
Dwelling Code" which does not correlate at all with the IBC, except that
Section 101.2 says:

"Detached one- and two-family dwellings and multiple single-family
(townhouses) not more than three stories high with separate means of
and their accessory structures ***shall*** comply with the International

Residential Code." [emphasis added]  

NO option is permitted!  Residences under the IBC are *required* to be 
designed under the IRC!  This is conventional construction run amok!
The IRC 
is a "Referenced Standard" and is automatically adopted when the IBC is 

A. Roger Turk, P.E.(Structural)
Tucson, Arizona

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