Building Codes: Constructing over minimum standards

Pole Barn Guru Blog

‘I want to see people build past minimum (code) standards’: Mike Holmes

In a June 29, 2011 copyrighted article in Postmedia News, Mike Holmes says, “Anyone who knows me knows I talk an awful lot about building code. The code is a minimum acceptable standard for the construction of a building. It’s also a living, changing document that is adapted every few years to ensure it keeps up with major changes to the ways buildings are built and the materials that builders use in construction.”

Holmes goes on to say, “Even if they are minimum standards, codes matter. I’ve said before that I’m not a fan of people who build to code because the building codes are minimum standards. I want to see people build past minimum standards, so that every homeowner has the safest possible living environment.”

Don’t just build to minimum code standards, plan to build above and beyond them!

In the case of pole buildings, we thoroughly agree with Mike Holmes. Sadly, we in the United States have many jurisdictions where building permits are either not required at all, or are granted without a thorough plan review and field progress inspections.

One of the largest post frame builders in the country, designs their non-permit required buildings to their own “robust” standard. To upgrade these buildings to meet code requirements involves a significant increase in price!

I am ever amazed, dumbfounded and totally appalled at clients who, after being advised of their wind and snow requirements, ask me, “What would it cost to build to lower values?”  Is throwing safety right out the window really worth saving a few bucks?

What most clients do not realize is that increases in building load carrying capacity often result in very minimal costs. A building with a low risk of human injury or death in the event of a failure (IBC Category I), is designed for the maximum design loads to be exceeded once in an average 25 year period. An upgrade to Category II doubles this to a 50 year period, with a net effective increase in snow load capacity of 25% and wind capacity by 15%.

Concerned about the lifespan of your new pole building? An increase of 10 pounds per square foot of snow load and 10 miles per hour for design wind speed means your building might very well be the last one standing, when it comes to a catastrophic event.  Don’t just build to minimum code requirements, plan to build above and beyond them, and sleep well at night knowing when you wake up, your building will still be there after a stormy night.

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One thought on “Building Codes: Constructing over minimum standards

  1. Larry Weaver

    I didn’t realize that a building with a low risk of human injury in the event of failure is designed for the maximum design loads to be exceeded once in an average 25 year period. The safety of my family is a top priority for me because we live in a location where we experience high winds frequently. Building my home above the minimum building code requirements is something I’ll be sure to do when I start construction on our new home.

    Reply

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