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Adopting the IBC Existing Building Code for URM In California?

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I am working with one of the local city’s that has a number of older buildings including Unreinforced Masonry (URM), older reinforced masonry and concrete buildings as well as historic structures and light-framed residential buildings with cripple walls or inadequate anchorage to their foundation.

In the next city over I was allowed to use the 2003 ICC Existing Building Code to retrofit and remodel a 1920’s reinforced concrete building that changed occupancy from a Fire Station to a Credit Union (Bank). An ordinance was not considered and since the Fire Station was owned by the City, the choice of codes was left to the discretion of the building official.

The first city I mention above wants to initiate an ordinance to deal with some 65 buildings constructed prior to 1960 which would be covered in the 2004 EBC provisions. Their first step is to address the most “hazardous” of the group - the URM buildings.

We contacted the California Seismic Safety Commission who sent a copy of a model ordinance “Repealing and replacing Chapter 17.18 Regarding Seismic Strengthening Provisions for Unreinforced Masonry Bearing Wall Buildings” to the building official. The provision follows the 2003 EBC Appendix A, Chapter A1 which is, in my opinion, almost the same as the last version published of the ICBO “Uniform Code for Building Conservation” - Appendix Chapter 1.

I am somewhat confused at this point since the State of California had not, in my knowledge, adopted any of the ICC code provisions. I do understand that a code may be used at the discretion of the building official but can it be adopted by a small municipality if it was not first adopted by the state and if it varies from other codes already accepted into practice.

If you have experience working with cities to produce ordinances for existing buildings or are an engineer who is working for a city who has this experience, I would be very happy to hear from you. Please write me privately unless you deem this a discussion of some importance that others on the list can benefit from.

Thanks in advance,

Dennis S. Wish, PE

California Professional Engineer

Structural Engineering Consultant


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