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RE: building codes

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Possibly in the restricted context of this thread, ACI 318 is not a "code" per se.  But according to Webster:
code n. 1. a comprehensive and systematically arranged body of law.  2. A system of rules of conduct or procedures.
I submit that ACI 318 satisfies the second definition.  That might be hair-splitting, but if I agree it is only a standard, then I'll argue that any "standard practice" acquires legal authority when a court so rules.  ACI 318 is standard practice.  ACI 318 is law when an expert witness proclaims it standard practice in open court.  ACI is therefore legal authority whether or not it is adopted as such by a jurisdiction.
John Riley 
Building codes are a little like caterpillars.  If you are far enough away,  you can see that the caterpillar is in fact moving up the tree.  If you look at it closely though,  you see that some parts are going up, some parts are going down, and a lot of parts are going sideways.
It is not strictly true that everything referenced by the model building codes is a consensus standard (where consensus is loosely taken to mean something that some group of people is allowed to vote on.) 
For example, the IBC and UBC reference the PTI Slab on Ground manual.  This is not a consensus standard,  and in fact is not even a standard.  It is kind of a jumble of confusingly written information about soils, some design examples, and recommendations to water your lawn.
And as a point of trivia,  despite the name 'ACI 318 Building Code Requirements for Structural Concrete', ACI 318 is not a code, it is a standard.  A code is a legal document, a standard is not.  A standard acquires legal authority when it is adopted by a code.
A standard like ACI 318 can be adopted directly by the code of a particular jurisdiction,  for example the city of New York Code.  Or it can be adopted by a model code like the IBC which is then adopted by a particular state.
Gail Kelley