Volume 41, Issue 9 - September 2006


City Council Considers Stricter Building Code for Mobile, Ala.

The Mobile, Ala., City Council recently heard public comment on the 2003 International Building Code (IBC) and is considering adoption of the new code.

At press time no organized opposition was reported.

The new building code would require builders to provide hurricane shutters or other window protection for single-family houses. Builders will also be required to construct houses that can withstand stronger winds, compared to the requirements of the 2000 IBC, and the proposed rules also include a large increase in building permit fees—the first since 1982. 

The state of Alabama is also considering adopting the 2003 IBC, pending Legislature approval. If the state does so, Mobile and other jurisdictions could adopt stronger standards, but couldn’t weaken the state code. 

ICC Announces First Jurisdictions Adopting 2006 I-Codes
The International Code Council (ICC) has announced that several jurisdictions have adopted the 2006 International Codes (I-Codes).

The communities of Lynwood, South Holland, Streator and Winthrop Harbor in Illinois have adopted the new version, as have two Texas communities, Levelland and Trenton. The Maplewood and Waynesville jurisdictions in Missouri are also enforcing the 2006 I-Codes. 

Others that have adopted the 2006 I-Codes are Shelby County, Ala., Springerville, Arizona, and Belleville, Mich.

Construction Board Compromises on Replacement Windows

Construction boards in Miami-Dade and Broward counties have approved a compromise intended to give individual building officials and private engineers some leeway in selecting windows under the old or new codes to replace most of the ones broken as a result of the 2005 hurricanes.

In general, if door or window glass cracked and the frame was undamaged, that would constitute a basic ‘’repair’’ and glass could be replaced under codes in place at the date of a building’s construction.

But building officials also have an option of citing a ‘’hazardous or dangerous’’ condition, requiring an engineer to sign off on repairs and possibly tests proving replacement glass can withstand wind loads equal to two-thirds of the current codes.

The boards also voted to mandate upgrades for certain kinds of broken glass used in what engineers call ‘’safeguard systems,’’ meaning glass lites designed to prevent people from falling through a window, such as those used on some balconies or in floor-to-ceiling windows.

That requirement could ratchet up repair bills for many condos.

‘’This is by no means a permanent fix,’’ said Richard Horton, vice chair of Miami-Dade’s Board of Rules and Appeals, but “somebody has to make a decision and we’re leaving it to the building officials.’’

At least until the boards appeal to the Florida Building Commission to correct what Horton and others call a gap in the statewide building code exposed by Hurricane Wilma: The latest version of the code, updated in 2004, includes special ‘’high-velocity wind zones’’ and tougher standards specifically for new homes and buildings in Miami-Dade and Broward, but a new section covering existing buildings didn’t address hurricane issues.

The enforcement change won’t affect downtown skyscrapers in Miami and Fort Lauderdale with glass-sided buildings that use the curtainwall framework.

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