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The Next Step in Code Development

The approval and printing of the First Edition of the ACI 332 Residential Concrete Standard and the subsequent reference of the chapter on wall construction in the ICC (International Code Council) is just the beginning of what will be a long-term, ongoing effort to clarify codes as they relate to residential concrete construction.

The next effort will be a submittal to the ICC to reference the entire ACI 332 document, not just the walls section. The document (ACI 332) includes chapters on footings, slabs, materials, concrete placement and production – all of which go beyond what is currently stipulated in the IRC.

The provisions included in the ACI document are common practice for most wall contractors and will hopefully eliminate many of the arbitrary interpretations of the code by local building officials.

A stated goal of the ACI is to remove all residential concrete construction requirements (for one and two family dwellings) from its flagship 318 document once the 332 Standard has been expanded to include all aspects of residential construction. When this occurs, it will make life much easier for most wall contractors.

Before this happens, however, the existing 332 document much be dramatically expanded in its scope. Items that were excluded from the initial draft which must be addressed include seismic design, above grade wall construction, and construction with ICF’s (the latter are already in the IRC).

A design section for is also needed for determining wall configurations that fall outside the scope of the empirical tables included in the current draft. All of this will take time, and when you consider that the codes are only updated on a three year cycle you begin to grasp the magnitude and time required to affect these changes.

PROBLEM ON THE HORIZON

Constant vigilance is required as codes are developed. Engineers, academics, and special interests (like sprinkler manufacturers) are forever proposing code changes that promote their companies, products, or pet concerns.

An example that I refer to as change S89 happened during the 2006 code development cycle. A small engineering company ran calculations which “proved” that the connection of the top of the wall to the sill plate and deck were not adequate. To solve this problem, he proposed a modifications that will dramatically increase the spacing and other connections required at the wall/deck juncture. It was submitted during the normal approval process and defeated as unnecessary.

The same proposal was submitted by the same people during the public input process and was approved (no one thought it had a chance).

While most people agree that this is the weakest point in the foundation system, this is a classic case of creating a solution to a problem that does not exist.

In our survey of foundation contractors, the instances of failure in tens of thousands of foundations once the deck has been attached can be counted on one hand – and the circumstances that lead to most of those failures wouldn’t have been handled.

Now we will all have to live with, or fight this provision in the 2006 version of the IRC.

If you have the opportunity to propose amendments to the code in your jurisdiction as it is adopted make sure you argue against this requirement. It will needlessly increase the cost of residential construction.

The CFA will be developing a position paper in response to this proposed code modification in the near future. Please notify us regarding this or any other code problem you may be having. Sometimes the input of a national trade association can help.

Ed Sauter, Executive Director, CFA
esauter@cfawalls.org

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Concrete FACTS, a publication of the Concrete Foundations Association, is THE voice for residential concrete industry news, market intelligence, business strategies, technical solutions, product information, and other resources for professionals in the cast-in-place concrete industry. Subscriptions to Concrete FACTS is available to anyone involved or interested in the residential concrete industry as a service to your industry. Please contact CFA Headquarters to find out more about your free subscription or Email Us