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RE: Structurally vs. Cosmetic Damage

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The Building Codes do not discuss damage – they do require maintenance.  Chapter 34 of the UBC and the IBC require an existing building to be maintained in a safe and sanitary condition, and that all devices and safeguards required by the code be maintained in conformance with code edition under which they were installed.


This often becomes ambiguous when applied to residential foundations damaged by what you called ‘subgrade movement’.  Is a cracked residential concrete foundation structural damage?  What if it is cracked and offset or sloped?  It is usually not related to an unsafe or unsanitary condition, and we assume concrete is cracked in our designs.  I’m generally more concerned with correcting the cause of the damage than with repairing cracks or leveling the foundation.  The uncorrected cause could eventually lead to unsightly non-structural damage to finishes and sloping floors in the living space, none of which necessarily threaten safety or sanitation, but could require costly and repeated repairs.  If the cause is corrected and the non-structural repairs mad, there may be no structural damage to repair.  But it’s a judgment call.


Nels Roselund, SE

South San Gabriel, CA


From: GSKWY(--nospam--at) [mailto:GSKWY(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Tuesday, June 28, 2005 6:08 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Re: Structurally vs. Cosmetic Damage


Structural vs. nonstructural actually seems like a better way to describe damage.


"Cosmetic" is open to all kinds of interpretation, plus it opens the option to a third possibility, i.e. something that is neither cosmetic or structural.  Structural vs. nonstructural makes it pretty clear those are the two options.


I think it is probably impossible to do  all-encompassing definitions for all types of structures, but the issue seems to come up most with respect to residential structures.  It seems like some association like NAHB should have come up with a printed definition.


Gail Kelley