Applying the Building Code
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Applying the Building Code

Step-by-Step Guidance for Design and Building Professionals

Ronald L. Geren

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eBook - ePub

Applying the Building Code

Step-by-Step Guidance for Design and Building Professionals

Ronald L. Geren

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About This Book

No other resource—not even the building code—presents the exact code information you need, when you need it at design stage

The International Building Code (IBC) is a model building code developed by the International Code Council (ICC). The IBC and its complementary codes provide design and construction professionals with a complete set of comprehensive, coordinated building safety and fire prevention regulations in order to safeguard the public health and general welfare of the occupants of new and existing buildings and structures. Adopted throughout most of the United States and its territories, it is referenced by federal agencies, such as the General Services Administration, National Park Service, Department of State, U.S. Forest Service, and the Department of Defense. For architects and other design and construction professionals, it is particularly important that they understand how to apply the IBC and how code officials view buildings, so that they integrate code-required provisions in the earliest design stages of any project.

Applying the IBC, as well as its companion codes, to building design is a process that is uniquely different to that of applying the building code during a planning review. Whereas other guide books explain the IBC in sequential order, from cover to cover, chapter by chapter, and section by section, Applying the Building Code explains the requirements of the IBC as they would apply during the common phases of design: from schematic design through to the preparation of construction documents. This effectively highlights applicable requirements of the building code at the appropriate stage of design based on available information.

  • The book provides a 28-step process that is organized according to the three phases of architectural design: schematic design, design development, and construction documents
  • Each step explains the application of the IBC, as well as other codes and standards referenced by the IBC (i.e. International Fire Code, International Energy Conservation Code, and ANSI A117.1) based on available project information
  • Illustrations and examples are provided throughout that explain the code fundamentals associated with each step
  • A single example project is used throughout the step-by-step process to illustrate how each step is applied and builds upon code and project information obtained through previous steps
  • Guidance is also provided on the International Existing Building Code and how the step-by-step process is applied to projects involving existing buildings
  • The role of the building department and its staff in regard to plan reviews and code enforcement is discussed
  • A detailed code data information template is provided that can help organize code-related information for construction documents

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Part I
Code Basics

The International Building Code® (IBC), like the history of model building codes before it, does not intend that a building be designed in a particular manner or style or that it must use certain materials. The IBC establishes minimum requirements for the protection of public health, safety, and welfare, but within those requirements is great flexibility for the design professional. Some code requirements offer only one method for compliance, but many have options or alternatives for the design professional to consider. It is the design professional's responsibility to consider these code options and alternatives and compare them to the owner's program requirements and budget, as well as the design professional's own design vision for the building, to decide which option provides the most value for the building's owner.

Building Code Organization

The first part of understanding the building code is to become familiar with its organizational structure and basic content. In the early 1990s, prior to the publication of the first IBC, the three model code development organizations, with the assistance of the Council of American Building Officials (CABO), were members of the Board for the Coordination of Model Codes (BCMC), which standardized the chapter arrangement of the three model codes published at the time. This chapter arrangement, with slight modifications (mainly title revisions), continues to this day in the IBC. The 35 chapters in the IBC consist of the following:
  • Chapter 1, Scope and Administration
  • Chapter 2, Definitions
  • Chapter 3, Use and Occupancy Classification
  • Chapter 4, Special Detailed Requirements Based on Use and Occupancy
  • Chapter 5, General Building Heights and Areas
  • Chapter 6, Types of Construction
  • Chapter 7, Fire and Smoke Protection Features
  • Chapter 8, Interior Finishes
  • Chapter 9, Fire Protection Systems
  • Chapter 10, Means of Egress
  • Chapter 11, Accessibility
  • Chapter 12, Interior Environment
  • Chapter 13, Energy Efficiency
  • Chapter 14, Exterior Walls
  • Chapter 15, Roof Assemblies and Rooftop Structures
  • Chapter 16, Structural Design
  • Chapter 17, Structural Tests and Special Inspections
  • Chapter 18, Soils and Foundations
  • Chapter 19, Concrete
  • Chapter 20, Aluminum
  • Chapter 21, Masonry
  • Chapter 22, Steel
  • Chapter 23, Wood
  • Chapter 24, Glass and Glazing
  • Chapter 25, Gypsum Board and Plaster
  • Chapter 26, Plastic
  • Chapter 27, Electrical
  • Chapter 28, Mechanical Systems
  • Chapter 29, Plumbing Systems
  • Chapter 30, Elevators and Conveying Systems
  • Chapter 31, Special Construction
  • Chapter 32, Encroachments into the Public Right-of-Way
  • Chapter 33, Safeguards During Construction
  • Chapter 34, (Reserved)—Previously “Existing Structures”; now covered in the International Existing Building Code® (IEBC) only
  • Chapter 35, Referenced Standards
Understanding the chapter arrangement is a beginning, but you also need to understand what is covered in each of the chapters. Knowing this fundamental information will allow you to quickly find the information you are seeking. For example, if you want to know the requirements for doors, knowing that doors are a part of the means of egress system will lead you to Chapter 10. The index can also be used to quickly find the location of information. With the availability of codes in multiple electronic formats, the content of codes can be searched quickly and more thoroughly.
For brief explanations on the content of each chapter, refer to the section titled “Effective Use of the International Building Code” located near the front of each IBC edition.
The second part of understanding the building code is to not try to memorize it. Although one is bound to involuntarily memorize code content due to frequent use, reliance on memory when applying the building code to a project could potentially lead to errors. There are several reasons for this, and the first and foremost reason is that the building code is revised every three years. What may have been required in one edition may not be required in another edition or it may have been significantly revised to include exceptions and/or special conditions and requirements.
Even though the International Codes® are revised consistently every three years, the jurisdictions that adopt them do not do so consistently. Design professionals who provide services covering several jurisdictions may encounter various editions of the codes. Additionally, jurisdictions will amend the codes they adopt to reflect local practice, conditions, or experience. Therefore, relying on memorization when working on projects in multiple jurisdictions could prove detrimental.

Other Codes and Regulations

Although the building code is the preeminent type of code adopted by jurisdictions, there are other codes that are applicable to a project that are typically required by the building code by reference. The International Code Council (ICC) publishes a series of complementary codes that are referenced by the IBC. These include the following:
  • International Fuel Gas Code® (IFGC)
    1. This code covers fixed fuel-gas piping systems and appliances.
  • International Mechanical Code® (IMC)
    1. This code covers mechanical systems, such as heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems (HVAC); fireplaces and solid fuel-burning equipment; solar systems; and fuel-oil piping and storage.
  • International Plumbing Code® (IPC)
    1. This code covers plumbing fixtures; piping for supply, waste, and vents; storm drainage; special piping and storage for medical gases; and subsurface landscape irrigation systems. Some content, especially in regard to plumbing fixtures, is replicated in the IBC.
  • International Private Sewage Disposal Code® (IPSDC)
    1. This code covers septic tank and leach fields and other similar systems installed where a public sewer system is not available.
  • International Property Maintenance Code® (IPMC)
    1. This code covers existing buildings in regard to their maintenance and sanitary conditions to ensure that the public health, safety, and welfare are sustained.
  • International Fire Code® (IFC)
    1. This code covers the protection of structures and property from fire or explosion. Content includes requirements for sprinkler, smoke control, and alarm systems f...

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