Saving with the standards of the International Building Code
Although Chapter 35 of the International Building Code (IBC), Referenced Standards, is a path of the code that building officials often overlook, most of the listings therein offer helpful and free information. The word “free” should grab code readers, because a speck of our DNA surely must read, “Belongs to an overworked and underfunded profession.” For many of us, a mere shoestring holds our budget together.
So, I tackled this task with one eye on our wallets, and the other focused on useful data. At some of these websites, you will find standards, drawings and FAQs. Others feature a look at magazines, white papers and interpretations. A few more present read-only information, meaning you can read or study, but you cannot print. Overall, up to 75 percent of these locations offer information at no cost.
Below, I have commented on 10 sites and added the addresses of several more. If and when you look for a standard on your own, the trial-and-error method works best. When I googled “GA” for the Gypsum Association, I got the state of Georgia!
Some of the following will require a password and login, but you can do this without paying a fee. Check the dates on whatever you read. A 1980 article may help you, but it also could be obsolete.
American Concrete Institute
The American Concrete Institute (ACI) provides a license look-up for concrete testers’ certifications, a place I sometimes visit. ACI also delivers “Free Online Educational Presentations.” These are in a PowerPoint format with voice, but I click the PDF and work at my own pace. I uncovered useful facts in “Coastal Houses,” “Epoxy Injection” and others. The FAQs deliver the basics of concrete.
American Institute of Steel Construction
The American Institute of Steel Construction posts free information. In “Engineering FAQs” you will find a couple of hundred questions (“Must metal burrs be removed from holes?”). The document, “Specifications for Structural Steel Buildings,” is available. Also, “Facts for Steel Buildings,” features recent studies of steel as it relates to fire, blast, progressive collapse and seismic events. (This includes info on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon attack on 9/11/2001.)
American Wood Council
The American Wood Council (AWC) offers plenty of no-cost wood construction data in a “view-only” format. The Design for Code Acceptance series is excellent. National Design Specifications for Wood Construction, The Wood Frame Construction Manual, span tables, technical reports and other documents are available. Plus, the AWC presents several complementary courses with American Institute of Architects (AIA) credits.
American Wood Protection Association
The American Wood Protection Association offers information for building inspectors. In the “Code Official” portion of the site, click on the “Use Category Infographic” and see a home and 15 locations — deck, stairs, columns, etc. — along with the type of preservative-treated (PT) required. You will also find info explaining the differences on a PT stamp.
American Welding Society
The American Welding Society provides some no-cost welding code and safety downloads, including fact sheets, and protection of welders and nearby persons. The site also features special inspections and steel. Try “Free Downloads.”
Environmental Protection Agency
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) site provides data on wood and solid fuel stoves. “Burn Wise” covers the EPA’s stove program with questions and answers, installation methods, and an inventory of approved stoves. For me, it’s a definite “go-to.” As for other EPA topics, you may not be interested in bedbugs, but radon, asbestos, mold and septic tanks may catch your attention.
International Code Council
The International Code Council (ICC) publishes 15 codes, including building, residential, plumbing, heating/ventilation/air conditioning, energy and others. Each of these is available in “public access” at no charge. An ICC professional membership includes written or telephone opinions. When I started my career, every city and town in my state had its own building code, so I welcome the uniformity the Code Council brings to the profession.
International Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning Association
The International Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning Association (IKECA) gives a free look at The IKECA Journal and articles such as grease fires in commercial kitchens. “The Inspector’s Top 10 List” of approximately 50 questions about kitchen exhaust inspections should be useful. Membership is open to building officials as a courtesy.
National Association of Architectural Metal Manufacturers
The National Association of Architectural Metal Manufacturers (NAAMM) has free downloads of fire ratings of metal doors and stairs, and pipe railing systems. The “Pipe Railing System Manual” explains differences in metal guard and handrails, including welding grades, connection to walls, floors or ramps. A similar manual explains metal stairs. NAAMM also delivers some no-cost courses with an AIA certificate.
National Fire Protection Association
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) website offers a complimentary look at all of its standards. (The user must agree to not download them.) I use this site for egress, sprinklers, fire-rated materials and several other topics. NFPA also features free webinars and online training.
Engineered Wood Association (formerly American Plywood Association)