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Re: Tall stud wall framing / IRC rant

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First off, I do not have a copy of the IRC in front of me to make any
kind of relevant point towards to the main issue here...

But I feel compelled to offer a general opinion.

I've always assumed, much as another poster has remarked, that the IRC
is designed with the intention of removing the design professional from
the equation - in other words, the builder no longer needs an engineer
to tell him that (as was quoted) that a "12' gable end wall can be
framed with 2x6 studs @ 16" O.C." which is great.  I too don't want to
be bothered with such mundane items when there's a backlog of work a
couple of months thick with it's claws wrapped around my neck all day
long.  However, if the intent is to provide a prescriptive design,
shouldn't the limits be noted first and be noted CLEARLY?  It's about
communication between people - not the kind of communication that ends
with some silly nanny-nanny-goo-goo I told you so crap.  So what if the
builder is wrong?  So what if the design professional is correct?  If
it's poorly worded such as to cause poor interpretations, isn't that
cause for concern?  

There is another issue that has been brought up here that has been
passed over - if the builder doesn't want to listen to the opinions of
the design professional (engineer) that they have hired then what was
the point of [the engineer] doing that job?  Find another client, or
just get on with the plan-stamping.  There's really no reason to accept
the builder's incorrect interpretation when it should be that he's
paying you for YOUR interpretation.  

To answer the question, "Do you expect to 'idiot-proof' everything?" I
would have to answer NO.  Sure, there are plenty of (mostly residential)
structures that could be prescriptively designed, but my thought, as an
engineer, is that design is best left to the professionals.  I don't
even begin to think to tell the builder how to operate their hammer and
prefer that they not tell me how to use my code book.  In a sense, a
fully engineered design is the way to go.  In fact, when I imagine the
perfect simple structure that a prescriptive design would allow, I
imagine spending about four hours creating calculations and drawings to
construct it.  It wouldn't be terribly expensive on the part of the
builder to include a design professional in the first place.


Christopher S. Campbell
O'Connor Freeman & Assoc., Inc.
916.441.5721     fax 916.441.5697
"They're only mad at me because I'm right"

From: Scott Maxwell <smaxwell(--nospam--at)>
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Re: Tall stud wall framing / IRC rant


But do you realistically expect to "idiot-proof" everything?  What about
little personal responsibility?  Sounds like to me the foreman either
not bother to read the entire table or chose to ignore the parts that
did not like (like that never happens).

And how specifically do you get "very close inspection" from his post?
Does reading the all the information in the table (i.e. including the
footnotes) count as "very close inspection" in your mind.  In my mind,
counts as doing the minimum that one should be doing.

I would argue that these types of things are what happens when you try
"dumb" things down.  When you try to simplfy complex things, you will
either have all kinds of limitations that people must be careful of
is definitely what happens with prescriptive design) or you make the
design OVERLY conservative allowing the elimination of some of the

I will offer up a similar siutation.  I was once involved with an review
of a masonry wall that collapsed during construction.
The wall had been designed using the empirical design of the MSJC.  It
done by a licensed professional.  Now, it appeared that there were
problems...1) the wall was not design properly and 2) was not
brace properly.  In this case the design is the relavent issue to this
discussion as the empiricial chapter seemed to imply that wall design
permitted...until one read a little further and hit the limitations of
empirical chapter.  The design violated at least two of the limitations
(if I recall correctly, it was height to wall thickness ratio and
requirements of grouting solid cores at locations where wall thicknesses
changed).  Point is that the licensed professional did not read the
chapter, but only the stuff that LOOKED relavent.

So, it is misleading if the person using the information choses not to
read all the information...for what ever reason?  Were the footnotes
readable (i.e. was the font so small that it was virtually impossible to
read...must like the "reading the fineprint" "jokes") otherwords,
you saying that there was some attempt by the IRC folks, whether
intentional or not, to "hide" the limitations?  Or was just really a
matter of someone not taking the time or effort to read it all?

A lot of stuff is "misleading" if you only look at/read a little bit of


Adrian, MI

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