Shining Light on Building Codes (Part 3) | Building Code Compliance and Enforcement by Russell Thornburg
My name is Russell Thornburg, and I want to thank Pieresearch for allowing me to be here today.
One of the things that’s important is finding out what the building code is intended for. What is its intention? What does it do for us? It’s to keep us healthy. It’s to provide safety. It’s to provide general welfare. It’s to take care of the property and to establish a minimum standard.
Now, if you look really close at the picture, you can see that house is falling down. OK, so how long should a house last? How long should a commercial building lasts? How long? And say we talk about property maintenance. But that’s a question that’s very interesting for me, because if we build it right by the code,I will tell you this. It needs to be maintenance to keep itself going. But again, we’re there to protect.
There’s all kinds of other things that we need to look at when we have construction documents. One of the things on construction documents that our code books require us to do is that we ask you to submit sufficient evidence. We ask you to clarify what’s going to go into that building, that commercial building.
What’s going and what kind of steel beam what kind of rebar, what kind of ceiling or in the residential, what kind of foundation? There’s all kinds of information we want details on.
We want you to provide that. Well, the code book directs us to what we’re looking for. And where is a checkmark and worse, a question mark wears a red flag. What’s going on? We use that to give us directions. That code book tells us what we’re looking for. And as well as we know the book, the more we become more detail oriented. And that’s one of the things that we look at now. If you look closely at the one that I’m showing you.You see a pretty picture of a house. You see no dimensions, right. You really don’t know if it’s hand frame. You don’t know if it’s engineered. You don’t know anything. It’s just a nice, drawn picture on a computer. So this picture is one of those I rejected.
So, a plans examiner is a person that sits down, takes to code books, pulls that plant apart and reads it and examines all the corners. And actually, I look at it pretty much like a science project. I need to see how it builds, just like building blocks. I need to see how it comes down, just like building blocks. I look to see how it works as a whole. I start with a picture as a whole and then come down to the small pieces. Interesting. Over the years, I look for the biggest major issues. And then I go off to the miners. Then I go over here.
Now, one of the things that you need to know about while working in the codes, we leave no trade out. Every trade is significant. As you look at this particular picture, you can see the electrical sitting right here. See all of that? Why can you have that much wiring in a box? Just how much wiring can you have in that box? And that’s a good question. All right. Now let’s roll over to the gas, gas line, copper line.See a meter right there? How long does that meter need to be on for that gas test? We make sure there’s absolutely no leaks whatsoever in that line. You see a manifold? Where do I need a manifold? Each state has a set of rules. That’s different.I can go from town to town sometimes and find different set of rules. But that code book that they adopted. Whatever you’re there, if adopted, is the set of rules that they go by.
Now, look at the plumbing. Tell me what’s missing. Oh, you see the white pipe on the floor. You see the ductwork running through. What’s that line? What’s that little white circle popping down? Oh, they forgot to put the drain line on. Well, that’s another part of our jobs. Not only are we supposed to see that everything’s done right. We look for some of those things that are called missing.
Who catches it? Well, the plumber forgot to catch it. The contractor forgot to catch it. And you know what? It’s a sigh of relief when we sat there and said, what’s going on with this?
We got it today. Not only do we ensure that it’s important for me to tell you this, we don’t catch everything. We’re auditors. We’re not there during that whole project. We’re not watching everything that’s going on. So that’s one of the things that I want you to pick up.
Well, I want to show you a picture that is so real. I went out and worked in an area where there was high winds and they weren’t quite sure it was really a tornado.
And we were walking around and I came up on this project. You see a legit foundation anywhere? See, that’s what the building code does. The building code gives that homeowner a legit building a minimum standard legit building. Wow. Look at that in that. Interesting. We got stone, we got boards, we got all kinds of stuff running around.
Well, let me show you something else. Look at the concrete that’s coming out of the truck. Look at the concrete that’s being poured on this. But look at the rebar. Look really close to the rebar. It’s right against the mat, right against that plastic on the bottom. That’s a no. You see that rebar has to be pulled up and held up and held up in place. Can’t be pushed down to the bottom.
Look how well that rebar is being held up. Look how well it’s chaired up off the bat. Look how well it’s spaced. That’s what we’re looking for.
One of the things that we have also to work with is some of the standards that tells us what we have to look for, for concrete. This is a rotation meter says 417. That means the concrete in the truck is no good. Concrete cannot go over 300 rotations.nWhere did I get that? ASTM as the standard, which tests all the materials out there, and it gives us the testing. ASTM 94C, you’ll find the answers in there. And if you’re looking closely, you want to read it because it applies to all concrete that shows up in a truck.
Well, let me take you on to this picture now, this picture has a foundation wall and they’re wanting to pour and they’re anxious to pour and they’re trying to beat the rain. If you look down at the left, you can see the puddles of the water not only that if you look really close at this picture, you’ll see the oil rolling out of the inside. But what has happened is, is they’ve decided to pour without us looking. Now we have a couple of choices now to understand the building code. If we don’t see it, we can’t pass it. If we don’t verify it, we don’t pass it. Do you understand that’s the reason why we were paid to go out there and take a look? So we’re there and he says he had everything in it. Well, sometimes we want to give people the benefit of the doubt. So this particular gentleman, we went and bought a magnet. You know what a stud finder is? It’s not more than a magnet. And we took this little guy here and we started going up and down its walls. And guess what? We found no metal in his walls. OK, so we could easily go tell him to go to an engineer, which we are, where you go and tell him to tear down the wall, which we are, because we have rules that are set in stone by the code book that tells us what has to be in that wall. That gives us an understanding of where base is.
So, then we can work from there.
So here I put your theater up. People go into a what? A dark room. People sit in a what? Dark room. So, who’s taking care of them from the time they enter that theater? To go sit,
to be entertained and be wrapped up into that 3-D movie in that fun? And then all of a sudden realize you’ve got to get out of the building. What happens? How do you get out? How do you exit? Where do you exit? Where do you go? How do you get out? And so we call this an assembly here, viewing, performance arts, that kinds of stuff. There’s all kinds. Again, that’s an IBC. If you look really close, that’s a 303 part chapter talking about all the different types of occupancies.
I want to take a sidebar here. And most big buildings, just about every big building, I shouldn’t say most are big. I would need to say every building that’s commercial in a setting like this are always required to have special inspections. Please look at the special inspection requirements. Please understand they are not there 24/7 either. They’re not even required to be there 24/7. So they come out and they write reports up and give it to our building inspection department. OK. They write reports. We read them. Now, it’s not always the special inspection job to follow through to see those corrections were made. Sometimes it’s my job. Sometimes it’s the building of a shop, sometimes it’s somebody else’s job, but the engineer of record is going to make sure that’s been taken care of. So what I want you to know is the engineer of record and everybody else signed off on this project before we walked on.
Well, now that we’re there, look underneath, the nut is missing. Our job is to do an audit. We just kind of walk through and kind of do a quick audit. I say quick because the special inspector has already been there. We already got paperwork, says it’s OK. So we’re not there to really question him. But all of a sudden we begin to look closer and oh, my goodness, we see one. Then we see two. Then we see three.
There’s a couple of things I want to show you about this. When you just kind of looking at something like an interior finish on that wall of what my question is, is when you go into a hotel or when you go into a big conference or when you go somewhere where there’s something hanging on the wall, is it flammable? Well, it’s will it go?
All right. So let me show you this next picture. Every one of you know about the Rhode
Island nightclub fire, right? A lot of people a lot of people died in that one. The fire department came in and said, you cannot do this. Why? You cannot shoot this off. Why? Because the finishes that were on the walls. Did they listen? No. Do you listen to when the Codebooks says no? The codebook tells us how much flammable waste we can have on the wall and what the strength of the flames, the smoke, all kinds of stuff. We pay attention to the carpets. That’s all what we look at, the stuff that’s on the walls. We want to make sure you’re safe.
Let me go on to this one. Don’t you love this picture? Don’t you love this picture on the left? What a beautiful guardrail. What a deck. What a way to get out of the warehouse. Way to get in and get a nice landing. By the way, if it’s snowing, it has to be clean. But by the way, that’s code. That’s fire code. Got to keep it clean. Got to keep it real maintenance so you can use it. Now, look at the picture on the right.nWhat’s the firemen doing? He’s doing this right and he’s got an escape and he’s got no what? What happened? So, again, we have these codes that tells us how to get in and out of the buildings, he’s trying to figure out what happened to the door.
I want you to look at this first picture. Notice the scraping of the fire foam, the products scraped off of the beam. So, they came back and tried to patch it on.
Let me show you this one. You see the hand? See how short the nail is. A nail needs to be much longer. We’re just showing you what they used.
OK, now we show you this one. We take a flashlight and look up. We’ve known when we’re doing fireproofing on beams, when the forklifts come in and when people start moving the big equipment around after the fireproofing has been put on, after the special inspector has been there to approve it. After all of that and the very end, you still have a lot of equipment being moved, a lot of products been putting or scraping it all the way off. OK. This is at a university and this is in a student center. And this has got a lot of your kids in there.
I want you to take a look at this one. Look all the way at the top. Notice you see all that red caulking going across there. That’s called fire caulking, intumescent fire caulking. Just come down just a little bit. Notice that they forgot to go around the pipes. So, we did it up at the top, but we missed it. I’ll tell you something. I’m looking for details building code.
This guy here. We told him to brace it. He did. Guess what? It fell down. OK. Building code tells him that. Back to where we need to.
Here’s another one. This picture came out of Virginia. I simply asked the people say, what happened? How did this happen? They came back one word. Wind. That’s right. But it wasn’t properly braced. Again, the building code addresses this.
So, it makes you stop and think how serious where we’re looking at the code, why the failures in that kind of stuff always interested. So sometimes I question my engineer drawings, sometimes I question the drawings. I see a thousand drawings a year easily. And then I get used to what I see and then I see something different and I go time out. How do you do this? How can you do this? And I’d start questioning questions. Yes, I have an education. I actually I have four degrees. But I’m not banking on my four degrees, I’m actually banking on every day, looking at plans every day, looking at this, and then the experience comes in.
You know this building, right? That’s that building that fell down in Florida. Right. The media is going to beat this building up and it’s going to beat up everybody that’s a part of this building.
We already know that. We’ve already seen that. My question is, is what caused it to go down? Now, there’s a lot of reports, there’s a lot of things that are coming out, and we’re going to have to stay tuned, but what’s the most important thing right now? This to recover all that’s. The people are there – that’s first. Then let’s go find out what happened. There’s a lot of speculations that are going on, but I also want to remind you that carefully they’re still going through this thing.
You see, the building code needs to be serious. And what we do needs to be serious. And the administration above is that play politics. Politics doesn’t understand, fire doesn’t understand wind, doesn’t understand the power. Of nature. The people are all the time trying to cut corners on us and please understand, I don’t know if there’s corners cut on this. I don’t know anything about this project. What we have to do is wait and learn. And learn from mistakes. All the building codes, for the most part that I understand all have come about some major disaster. Why we have the building codes and what we have seen, so I’ve opened up the gate to open up to this. I talked to a couple of my friends today that we’re teaching with today. No one said I would put this in. I want you to see this. There’s a team that has come in to work on this campus and to work around all of this.
You remember we sent people all over the world to work teams and all kinds of people come together. It is a certain group of people. We are a special group of people that work together as a team and as a family to make sure everybody is safe when we do our job. No one dies.
That’s where our objective is, so we could take a look at it. There’s other things that come out that are hard to do. We do hard things. We have to stop and shut a job down. Hard to do, but there’s things that we have to go through to make sure that it’s done right. We make sure that they don’t go forward. Hard place to be. Been there too many times.
Why do we do inspections? Why do we go in and use the building code to prevent, to prevent, to prevent this from happening, as you can see in this picture? We work hard. There’s a lot of things you never hear about because we’ve done our job. So let me ask you a question. What would you do if you saw danger? Well, the building code is constantly looking for those things so we can get rid of them.
I want to thank you for your time to listening. I hope that you got a little bit of understanding of the building code. God bless.
This video was made courtesy of Pieresearch, “The Standard of Excellence!” Manufacturer of high-quality alignment and centralizer products for the deep foundation and earth retention industries.