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Re: Building Rating Idea

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The problem I can see is that the same building officials who you say don't appear to have the expertise or the interest to enforce building codes as they are probably won't have the expertise or the interest to enforce a rating system.  

There have been rating systems discussions with regard to seismic performance from time to time, although not usually with posted signs (with the except of the CA URM idea).  The idea with those is to let an owner take a more active role in deciding the desired seismic performance, and perhaps receiving an insurance premium benefit for better buildings.  A few owners, mostly those with facilities with very expensive contents (microchip manufacturering buildings, for example) or those that don't want to be out of service after an earthquake (hospitals, for example) often take an interest in performance beyond the code minimum, but those are the exception rather than the rule.  In my experience, 4 out of 5 owners want to do what the city requires and nothing more.  As much as suggesting that someone do only the minimum and nothing more may sound negative, a city generlly enforces the code and the code is generally written in such a manner that following it and doing nothing more should be quite safe in most cases... or at least that is the ideal.  Can the average owner be expected to know all the subtleties that engineers learn over years of study and practice?  

As noted above, most of these ratings system ideas take a minimum level of safety as the baseline, and focus on trying to reward those who go beyond the minimum.  From what you describe, even the minimum isn't really being actively enforced in some cases.  It seems like the first philosophical question to ask for your system is what the minimum should be.  If there is no minimum, an A - C rating system could end up rewarding bad buildings by tagging them with a "C" that may imply to members of the general public that some acceptable level of safety has been acheived when in reality none has.  Maybe you need a D or an F kept in reserve for special, egregious cases.  

Good luck.  

Paul Crocker, PE, SE

>>> "S. Gordin" <mailbox(--nospam--at)sgeconsulting.com> 05/24/05 06:22AM >>>
Refugio,

I like the idea, and tried to introduce it several times.  Did not work.  
The bottom line is that nobody is interested to KNOW about the buildings.
In fact, everybody appears to prefer not to know.

I am over this.

Steve Gordin
Registered Structural Engineer
Irvine CA   
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: refugio rochin 
  To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org 
  Sent: Tuesday, May 24, 2005 6:17 AM
  Subject: Building Rating Idea


  Well, 
  I am one to dream about possibilities, and perhaps I get carried away.

  And I am now just thinking about the situation here on this island of Tortola.

  No, it is not as strict here for construction practice as the states. 
  The gov't engineers
  are not always highly trained engineers.

  And even some private engineer's work is not sufficient.  Part of the problem
  is the time crunch, and part of the problem is local construction practice.
  Even buildings that are not that old, were designed by non-professionals, (say
  a chemical engineer).

  Of course our small company is beginning to make a difference and grow
  as our engineers are qualified, and we make sure our buildings get built
  the way they were designed.


  But I was thinking about an idea, because it seems that some building 
  owners even want to go without the engineer's opinion.  I was designing 
  an addition to a building here, and we found that for what the owner wanted
  to do - add two floors to the building, the foundations were highly stressed.

  So we concluded we would only go one more floor.  But the owner still
  is planning to build his two floors, without an external frame or any other
  remedy except to go up the next floor.  And probably the building will
  be built, because the gov't does not impose strict checks over plans.

  My case is this, that if buildings are not engineered properly, then perhaps
  there ought to be some sign on buildings, kind of like an A, B or C rating in a 
  restaurant in California, so when you walk in a building, you can see
  the rating of the building design.  And perhaps know if you want to go
  inside or not.

  Now probably buildings are ok here to a degree, but this could be reflected in 
  the code standard used at the time.  Say, if the building was designed before 
  1960, versus to the IBC 2003.  In this way, people could also become educated
  about buildings.  Much like they are about poor quality cleanliness in
  a restaurant.

  It could also reflect in the insurance package that a building owner
  has for his/her
  property.

  Anyway, just a thought.

  If anyone knows of such an implemented plan, please let me know.  Interested.

  Regards,
  Refugio Rochin

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