Page B1.1 . 23 May 2001                     
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    Building Code Illustrated

    by Terry L. Patterson, NCARB

    Anyone who has ever struggled to understand a building code has wondered if there are better ways to communicate such important technical information. Now relief is finally available.

    A new book clarifies parts of the 2000 International Building Code that are the most useful to designers, detailers, estimators, and students. Although it is not, as the author states in the introduction, intended to be a substitute for the code, the book should prove to be an invaluable aid to those interested primarily in the code's design implications. Editor.

    Code Language

    In their analysis of proposed change 1005.1-1 to the "First Draft" of the International Building Code, the Means of Egress Technical Subcommittee rejected the language of the proposal as being "commentary, not code text." This single statement succinctly summarizes the problem with codes for the many people who must comply with them.

    "Code text" is the language of building codes, a pseudo-legal kind of language intended to minimize variations in interpretation and withstand legal challenges. As in legal documents, the penalty for this special style is clarity to people who are not specialists in the language.

    The difficult language might be justified if interpretations among users and officials were consistent. This is not the case, as a visit to any Internet code-discussion site will verify. Code questions posted on such sites often generate conflicting responses from code officials and other knowledgeable parties.

    This article is excerpted from Illustrated 2000 Building Code Handbook by Terry L. Patterson, with permission of the publisher, The McGraw-Hill Companies.

     

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    ArchWeek Photo

    Minimum protection of steel columns and all members of primary trusses. Minimum thicknesses of noncombustible insulating materials are indicated as required for the fire-resistance ratings shown.
    Image: Srdan Kalajdzic

    ArchWeek Photo

    Partial Floor plan at cafeteria wing showing separation between occupancies. New Jasper Pre-K - 2nd Grade School. Jasper, Texas. PBK Architects, Inc. Houston, Texas
    Image: Jennie M. Patterson

     

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