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Change on the Horizon

New Building Codes
Building codes change. In California, and most other parts of the country, a new building code is issued every three years. There are many changes, some minor and some major. In January 2017, a new edition of the California Building Code will take effect. For new buildings the structural design provisions will be basically unchanged from before. The nonstructural anchorage and bracing requirements will undergo some revision, which may lead to more robust anchorage designs. The more significant changes, however, are in the existing building provisions.

What the Changes Mean
In this next iteration of the California Building Code, the International Existing Building Code will be adopted and replace Chapter 34 of the California Building Code. This represents a major change to what is required when work is done to an existing building. From our perspective, the major points that we believe our clients should be aware of include: changes in the triggers when a seismic evaluation and retrofit may be required; how damage or deterioration can be deemed “substantial” and trigger mandatory repairs; and what the scope of those repairs are required to be. In most cases, these changes will not trigger work that will expand the scope of a project beyond what would have been required under the 2013 California Building Code, but it is important to be aware of them.

Bigger Changes on the Horizon
While it is barely three years away, it is very likely that the 2019 California Building Code will include changes that will significantly affect both new design and renovation projects. A new national consensus standard for structural design will be adopted. Numerous Degenkolb firm members were involved in the update of that standard. In some cases, the changes will result in higher design forces, which will affect the structural system. On the other hand, the new standard will allow for more performance-based designs, which could result in significant cost savings.

For building owners who are uncertain about when to go to permit, a consultation to better understand the changes and implications may prove to be beneficial before making a decision to move forward on a project.

To learn more about the code provisions, call Robert Pekelnicky, 415-354-6404, or email at

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Posted by tinabarni on November 11, 2016 12:16 PM
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