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Re: Codes Online (Non-structural)

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And where do you think the "governmnet" will get the money to develop a
building code itself if it cannot even afford the couple hundred dollars
to purchase the model building codes and references documents in your

Let's say we give a way the model building code and reference documents
for free and not allow for reimbursement for those that produce them.  You
now have your freely available law (which I certainly agree in an ideal
world would be the way it should be).  Now what?  How does ICC, ACI, AISC,
etc pay for their costs to develop and publish those documents?  Let's say
they don't get reimbursed.  How long do you think that they will continue
to produce those documents when they are losing money hand over fist?  Not
long.  So, now we have no one producing the code documents.  So, that
means somebody else will have to.  Another business?  Not likely as you
want the stuff for free so they will only lose money.  So that leave the
"government" (i.e. local, state, or federal...take your pick).  This will
cost the goverment money to do and according to many the government is
very inefficient (i.e. waste our tax dollars), so it will likely cost more
than the current system.  Where wiil that money come from?  Um, maybe
taxes or fees (could be that the home owner that you were lamenting about
has to pay several hundred dollars more for a permit instead of paying
several hundred dollars for set of code books).

The other way it could go is that the various code groups stop selling the
books, but instead tell states (or local governments or the federal
government) that if you want to reference our document, you have to pay us
a licensing fee.  Then the "government" can provide the document for
"free".  But, do you think that the licensing fee is only gonna be a
couple hundred dollars for something like the State of Michigan.  Not
likely.  Think tens of thousands of dollars or more.

The end result is my previous post remains true.  You won't get codes for
free.  Do you really think that the laws that you can currently go to your
state's webpage and read are really free?  Where do you think your taxes
go?  They pay the salaries of the lawmakers that create this stuff in your
state capital.  They pay for all the state employees that publish those
laws to the website and then enforce those laws.  Can you find the such
laws free printed on the web?  You bet.  But did they just magically
appear there without you and I paying for them.  No way.

And as to your example, you _SHOULD NOT_ have to purchase a document to be
able to show your local code official.  _THEY_ should have purchased it
themselves, and it should have been free available for you to at least
read at their office.  I don't see how the "system" that is in place is to
blame for that local municipality either not having the money to buy the
documents for the code officials and public use or being too cheap to buy
the documents.

Don't get me wrong.  I agree that ideally this stuff should be available.
And I really don't care if private organizations produce it or if
goverment entities produce it.  The point is that regardless of who
produces it, SOMEONE will have to pay for it.  In the end, you must really
look at what you are asking for.  Sometimes something that seems really
good does not pan out once you really look at the logistics of it.  In
otherwords, be careful of what you ask for.

As a case in point, I have heard MANY engineers moan about AISC's push
for LRFD and how they just love ASD.  Well, we are getting our wish.
AISC's next spec will be a joint ASD/LRFD spec and manual.  But, it will
be interesting to see how many engineers will still sing the praises of
ASD design when they get an version that has been brought on par with
LRFD.  Part of the reason we (and I include myself) like ASD right now is
that it has not been updated since 1989.  Charlie has warned us several
times "to be careful of what we ask for", but I am sure that it has
largely fallen on deaf ears and those once the new ASD spec is out there
and referenced by model building codes, that there will be people moaning
about it.


Adrian, MI

On Mon, 22 Nov 2004, L. Pack wrote:

> On 22 Nov 2004, at 1:27, Scott Maxwell wrote:
> > What you won't get is the codes for free.  Contrary to popular belief, it
> > costs money to produce those codes.  Even if government entities took over
> > the effort, it would still not be free.  It might seem free, but we would
> > still pay for them in the form of fees (i.e. PE license fees, building
> > permit fees, etc) or taxes.  This stuff does not magically appear out of
> > thin air.
> >
> > Regards,
> >
> > Scott
> > Adrian, MI
> And from the point of view of a citizen, I would like all laws to which
> I am subject to be free for my enlightenment. I should be able to
> freely access all laws for which I may be held accountable.   If we
> charge people to access the law, then we are essentially
> discriminating against those who can not afford the cost to obtain
> the law.
> We often hear that ignorance of the law is no excuse from the
> law's penalties if the law is violated.  Therefore, we, as citizens,
> must have access to the current law, so that we may be less
> ignorant of the law and its penalties.
> Recently, the method of codifying by reference has created an even
> greater problem.  People must now purchase more than one
> code book to cover the varieties of code that may be encountered
> in building a residence that is more than just a rectangular box.
> I realize that in many areas, most building inspectors have got
> little engineering background and are likely to do what they've
> been trained by their predecessor to do.  And they may or
> may not be motivated to learn about how the code came into
> being and the discussions that lead to the inception of a particular
> section of code.  Because of this condition, many citizens have
> got little help from the local building department that administers
> their building project.
> As an example, a local municipality was recently trying to
> enforce a new portion of code that has been adopted by reference
> in the IBC.  The local government entity didn't have a copy of that
> referenced section of code.  The local libraries didn't have a copy
> of the code, so I got it on inter-library loan at the state law library,
> who also didn't have a copy of the state mandated code.  The
> referenced section of code wasn't very clear and referenced another
> book that was unavailable, even through inter-library loan.  And
> for just under $200 I could purchase this book, educate myself
> and then the local building department on the nuances of this
> section of code that they were trying to enforce.  But why should
> I have to do all of this for a law to which I must abide.
> As engineers we likely have already got the referenced code
> books, at least those that we use frequently, and are
> not as concerned with the cost of acquiring them, since we
> would likely purchase them anyway if they were not codified
> by reference.  But for John Q. Citizen who wants to build a house,
> a barn, or a small shop for his new fledgling business, he may
> have to purchase a few code books to get him through the
> process without being totally ignorant of the law.
> We might say, "Hire an expert."  It doesn't make good sense
> to not hire an attorney when facing even minor legal challenges
> or to not hire an engineer when building something of significant
> size of where life safety of many people are invovled.  But, why
> should the system be so complex and the laws be written in
> such a way as to almost prevent someone from doing something
> themselves?
> Why should the law not be freely available to all who must
> comply with that law?
> <stepping off soap-box>
> Take care,
> Lloyd Pack, PE
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