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RE: building codes

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>"And although ACI 318 may be "standard practice",  in areas where there is a building code, the particular version of ACI 318  
which  is "the law" depends on what has been adopted by reference through the building code. "
I am not sure that this is absolutely correct.  Depends what you mean by "the law".  If "the law" is what you are directly told to do, you are correct.  If "the law" is being what determines if you get sued or jailed, maybe not.
I was taught (not USA, so things may be different) that although the building code is a good place to start you could still be held liable for following the building code, if you knew that code to be erroneous.  You are expected to follow a duty of care, commensurate with your knowledge, expertise and other's expectations of you.  If you are an expert in deep beams and you followed an old erroneous ACI code because your backward state told you to, you would be still be negligent because you new (or even should have known) otherwise.
Further, an English court found an engineer liable for the deaths of workers at a treatment plant designed 30 years previously.  New research came to light, showing a potential risk (build up of gas, I think).  He didn't know that when he designed, but was guilty because it came to light and he did not retrospectively alert the owner or insist upon a remedy.  This is a little scary.
Laws here may be different.