Lessons Learned About the Building Code Process—The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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by Dale C. Perry, Texas A&M Univ, College Station, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Hurricane Hugo One Year Later:

Abstract: Building codes and standards exist to provide for the health, safety and welfare of the citizenry. Concern must also be given to the need to safeguard the economy lest major changes in the laws, rules and regulations governing the construction process give rise to significant socio-economic problems within given communities or the country as a whole. The national governments of most foreign, industrialized countries oversee the regulatory development and enforcement process. In the United States, however, the promulgation of building codes and standards has, for the most part, become private-sector enterprises strongly influenced by special interest groups. With the exception of the independent operations of a few states, counties and some of our largest cities, the business of code development lies mainly in the hands of three model code organizations and the various trade and professional associations who develop the material specifications. Each of these groups proclaim that their operations are 'consensus-oriented'. In point of fact, the processes can best be described as quasi-democratic with attendant strengths and weaknesses. A wide range of participants are involved, each possessing some form of proprietary interest. The object of this communication is to review the building code process and enumerate strengths and weaknesses, primarily as they relate to the design of buildings and structures to resist severe winds.

Subject Headings: Building codes | Materials processing | Strength of materials | Professional societies | Building materials | Construction materials | North America | United States

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