Tag Archives: building codes

Building Codes and Standards Taking Nicely to the Cloud

One way the cloud can vastly simplify life for construction, engineering and architectural firms is by literally replacing volumes and volumes of books and/or downloads. These include building code books, standards such as ASCE, ASHRAE, NFPA, ASME, IGCC, OSHA, and so many more. When these items are available in the cloud, they’re available anytime and anywhere, regardless of device as long as it’s connected to the Internet. And, they don’t have to be downloaded. There is movement and progress on two fronts here.

Taking a bite out of fragmentation

First the progress. If you need to have access to more than one standards or code book you’re left to manage multiple subscriptions at multiple vendors. There is a way however to get all you need in one place. You can create your own custom library right in the cloud over at MADCAD. Select the codes and standards that you use all the time and add them to your library. Alternatively, you can select from an assortment of packages populated with books that are commonly used together. This can give you a savings over selecting items individually.

For example, you can select the ASTM Construction Collection that includes more than 8,000 books going back several years that cover the testing specifications for products and materials used everyday in construction. That collection will cost $3,800 for unlimited users at one location for one year. If you buy online access for one user to each of ASTM’s 04.01 through 04.13, directly from ASTM, you’ll pay $4,370. Alternatively, if you take advantage of the special I noted while I was researching this, you’ll get it for $3,278. The thing is, most architectural, engineering and construction companies need access to much more than just ASTM.

MADCAD includes a selection of options. You decide how many simultaneous users you want to have access, the access methodology (user login, intranet, IP authentication), and which of two reports you want to have tracking all the activity. Paid subscriptions also include free items such as content from OSHA, FEMA, HUD and more. Not every code book is available and there are only codes from 14 states. But that’s where there is movement afoot elsewhere.

Addressing the jurisdictional problem

Fiatech’s U.S. Local Codes in the Cloud project is addressing this problem by creating a cloud-based library where model codes, state and local amendments, addendum, errata and executive orders are organized by jurisdiction. By creating a virtual custom library one will be able to find the complete construction requirements with a simple click. Fiatech is an initiative based at the University of Texas and describing itself as an “international community of passionate stakeholders” out to “make step change improvement in the design, engineering, construction, and maintenance of large capital assets.”

A project team is working with Fiatech member Compu-tecture and their MADCAD.com platform, which currently contains more than 50,000 model building codes and standards as well as state-wide codes in a searchable and continuously updated cloud, to add the code provisions of over 5,000 local jurisdictions across the United States.

Unlicensed, Uninsured Contractors Get Stung in California

Under arrest white collar crime © Imageegami | Dreamstime.com
California ran a sting that netted 12 contractors operating without licenses and the appropriate insurances. (This guy wasn't really one of them. He's just to add visual impact.) © Imageegami | Dreamstime.com

One dozen illegal operators will have their day in court following a Contractors State License Board (CSLB) sting operation in the Berkeley Hills on February 22, 23, 28, 29, and March 1, 2012. The individuals are suspected of contracting without a license, not securing workers’ compensation insurance for their employees, soliciting excessive down payments, using contractor license numbers not belonging to them, and advertising illegally. Continue reading Unlicensed, Uninsured Contractors Get Stung in California

Codes Don’t Account for Risks From Multiple Natural Disasters

New informationfrom the National Institutes of Standards and Technology says building

3D construction worker building a brick wall - 13807312  © Andres Rodriguez | Dreamstime.com
13807312 © Andres Rodriguez | Dreamstime.com

codes may be out of date when considering the effects of natural disasters on buildings. The reason is because codes generally consider the effects of these disasters as individual events, but when they are combined such as an earthquake followed by a hurricane, structures will experience both seismic and wind loads that they may not be designed to withstand.

Researchers used the example of South Carolina where both seismic and wind hazards can be expected. In those places, building design limits won’t account for both eventualities. According to wind zone and seismic hazard maps another vulnerable place is at the junction of Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri and Tennessee. With wind speeds capable of hitting 250 mph and with three seismic hazard zones this area is at greater risk for dual failures on buildings.

Researchers are considering a wide range of models and extending the methodology as they advocate for changes to building codes.

Amish Take Building Codes To Task

In Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and New York there is an attempt underway to bend the building codes a bit. In all three states the Amish have sued local governments claiming the building code requirements run counter to their religious beliefs. Now, one group has made it a federal case.

In Morristown, NY, 11 families that belong to one of the more austere Orders of the religion have brought a federal suit claiming the building codes discriminate against their religion. Apparently these Amish families don’t mind buying the building permits and following most of the requirements but there are some sticking points. They say the requirement for smoke detectors and submitting engineering plans, and allowing inspections all violate their religious beliefs.

Previously the group lost a similar suit when a town judge ruled their religion gave them no special standing to avoid compliance with building codes. There have been 10 Amish prosecuted in the town for code violations since 2006.

Well, this could spark some lively discussion, so if you have some thoughts on it, leave a comment. Or, at least vote in the poll below.

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