Good Code Gone Bad

By Grenville Phillips II
June 8, 2012

Yesterday, I attended a seminar hosted by the BNSI and BCSI titled “The Revised National Building Code”. I left the seminar feeling shocked and saddened. The current building code is designed to be understood by building contractors to allow them to build a fairly stable house. Many homeowners should also be able to understand it in order to check that their builder is following this national standard.

In my opinion, the proposed ‘Revised’ code cannot be understood by most builders and homeowners – it appears to be designed to be understood only by designers. Certainly, only structural engineers can understand the Structural section of the “Revised” code, while most builders should be able to understand the structural section in the current code.

In addition, the homeowner will have to provide detailed construction drawings for Government approval. This is likely to increase the cost to the homeowner by approximately 15%. This additional cost is not due to additional construction materials, but the cost of paying designers to prepare the detailed designs.

The current building code contains most of the technical information normally provided by designers (Engineers and Architects). What is so disheartening is that all of this useful information that can be understood by building contractors and many homeowners has been removed.

For the past 2 decades, designers have endured the entirely false charge that the enforcement of national building standards will financially benefit them. What is certain is that if the proposed ‘Revised’ building code is enforced, then the designers will be the principal financial beneficiaries. I am unaware of any designer who has lobbied for this ‘Revised’ code.

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