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Re: Code Clarity (was 3000 psi concrete and special inspection)

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Dmitri Wright wrote:

Scott,

Apparently you are correct. Even my posting was not "100% clear and consistent". Let me try this again:

I am making an argument FOR ambiguity in the codes. My point is that codes that have no "gray areas" restrict engineers from doing the job that they trained for many years to do. Any PE (Project Engineer, no license, no specialized education) can read a Code that is completely clear, and follow it to the letter, with no input from a PE (Professional Engineer, licensed). While this of course is not realistic for large projects, this appears to be the goal of Codes, which become more detailed and more restrictive (and thicker!) every issue.

But my main point is that it is the plans reviewer and the inspector that often interpret the "gray areas" of the Code, often overruling the licensed engineer. Many engineers who have lost one of these battles would like to see more clarity in the Code, in order to avoid having ridiculous requirements imposed on them. If, however, as engineers we do not tolerate this situation, then more ambiguity in the Code gives engineers more freedom to create efficient, common sense designs.

In summary, I am not criticizing the Code (not in this post anyway), I am criticizing my fellow engineers for letting the Building Departments lead the engineers around by the nose!
And yes, I have had it happen to me many times.

Based on the response to my earlier post, I appear to be alone in this position. (Oops! Is this the Building Officials web site?)

Dmitri Wright, PE
Portland, OR

Dmitri,
I don't think it is ambiguity that you are protecting. In your example, there is a simple solution - "Does Dmitri's design follow acceptable methods of strength and materials, AND does it exceed the minimum standard of the code?" This is not ambiguous. Ambiguity exists in our Constitution to purposely allow "change." However when the change is made in the form of amendments or acceptance of law, the idea of ambiguity should be eliminated unless the "law" is challenged. When we practice, we are not in a position to challenge the law as this is a legal matter. We must meet the minimum compliance with the code and beyond this, we can be as creative as we want. What is the minimum compliance? This is the point where Ambiguity should never exist - the line should be drawn and any decision as to how it was reached should be clear. If we are not satisfied with this then we can hire the attorney's to go to court and fight the legal battle, but interpretation during design should be as clear as we can humanly make it. It should not be "sloppy" or thrown in at the last minute to get a publication out and revenue in as it was in the case of the 97 UBC. In fact - see the post under "1997 UBC Section 1630.10.3 Limitations on Story Drift" - here is a perfect example of trying to figure out the intent of the code that should not exist.

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