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Re: IRC and Plan Reviewers

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You are right on and I appreciate everything you said in your reply. The "line" that the code refers to is still somewhat ambiguous and is based on a determination of building irregularities that are referenced in the code. Section 2320.5.4 of the 97 UBC starts to define Unusual shaped buildings and their compliance to conventional construction or full-compliance. The final determination is allowed to be done by the building official and if he has no real background in engineering or architecture, then he might misinterpret the compliance criteria. Plan irregularities are defined in Table 16-M of the 97 UBC and some of these are also difficult to interpret.

Dave hit on one point that I think is important. In smaller communities such as our desert communities, the building official is under tremendous stress by the developers who plead their case (or actually threaten) the city council to allow conventional construction to be allowed or they will be forced to move into another community that would allow it. This is a political move that occurs mostly in communities that are new and plan a proportion of their building for affordable lower income housing. The trouble continues when the community evolves into a more affluent community and the developer uses the argument that the city allowed their prescriptive design in the past and therefore needs to allow it in the future. Thus, more affluent people get the shaft as they are buying new homes that are not designed or building to a better performing standard in a community where their cost to rebuild or repair increases without their knowledge - only so the developer can maximize their profits at the expense of the home buyer who does not know that there is a difference or that the developer chooses to use the least materials and the least restrictive code to maximize his profits.

Thanks Dave, it is finally good to see others wake up to the need for some responsible determination as to where and when the IRC is applicable to be used in new construction.


Dave Adams wrote:

The frontline in the battle between "conventional construction" and "engineered-design" is clear. The problem is not that it's difficult to tell where that line is, the problem is that too many building officials are under a lot of pressure to keep residential plan reviews "short-n-sweet", so they miss a lot when they give the plans a quick pass-over to determine if anything needs to be engineered. It's unfortunate, but that's what happens. The ICC "Building Plans Examiner" certification exam has nothing (or very, very little) on conventional construction ... or anything structural for that matter ... and it really needs to be changed. I currently hold such certification, which is quite comprehensive on fire/life-safety issues, but I do remember extremely little on the structural portions of the Code. I presented a paper at the 2002 Structural Engineers of Southern California conference entitled, "Making Responsible Decisions Regarding Conventional Construction and Engineered Design for Wood-Framed Structures" that you might find helpful. It's based on the 1997 UBC, but the principles would also apply to the IRC (for the most part, I believe). Let me know if you would like a copy ... e-mail me PRIVATELY. I would imagine that Dennis Wish (a subscriber to the list) would have some resources to recommend or pass along as well.
Dave K. Adams, S.E.
*Lane Engineers, Inc.*
Tulare, CA
E-mail: davea(--nospam--at) <mailto:davea(--nospam--at)>

-----Original Message-----
*From:* Joe Grill [mailto:jgrill(--nospam--at)]
*Sent:* Monday, January 17, 2005 12:21 PM
*To:* seaint
*Subject:* IRC and Plan Reviewers

I have a question to kind of continue our latest discussion. Actually, it may be somewhat of a request.

    It has seemed to me that where some of the problem comes from (in
    the battle between engineers and plan reviewers regarding IRC and
    IBC) is that there aren’t guidelines indicating when conventional
    framing provisions should stop and an engineered design should
    begin. Are there any of you out there working within a
    jurisdiction where the jurisdiction has made that determination
    for their area? If so, have they put it in a statute or some sort
    of directive, basically anything like a hard copy? I would like to
    gather some information if it is out there to take to my local
    town and county plan reviewers as some sort of ammunition to begin
    a discussion on this topic. I would rather go in NOT like the lone
    ranger among the engineering community on this matter.


    J. Grill

    Joseph R. Grill, P.E. (Structural)

    Shephard - Wesnitzer, Inc.

    Civil Engineering and Surveying

    1146 W. Hwy 89A Suite B

    Sedona, AZ 86340

    PHONE (928) 282-1061

    FAX (928) 282-2058


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