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ICC ES Acceptance Criteria for Sale

Discussion in 'Talk to the ICC Board' started by Phil, Aug 28, 2013.

  1. Phil

    Phil Sawhorse

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    I was not surprised when I received notification that the ICC ES Acceptance Criteria are being sold rather than being a free download (see http://www.icc-es.org/News/NR/2013/NR062013_AC_for_purchase.pdf). But, the prices are shocking. I expected that they would be priced similar to ASTM standards that are mostly in the $25.00 to $50.00 range. The cheapest Acceptance Criteria I saw is $195.00 ( $156.00 for members).

    My goodness, AC193 for Mechanical Anchors in Concrete costs $395.00 ($316.00 for members). This is largely based on ACI 355.2 that only costs $61.50 ($36.00 for ACI members). One can purchase a compilation of 1800 ASTM standards referenced in the building code for $1200. The ES Acceptance Criteria Underlayments and Roofing Compendium includes 24 standards and cost $5400! That is half the cost of ASTM's Annual Book of Standards that includes 18,000+ ASTM standards.

    I am not upset that the Acceptance Criteria are being sold. But the prices really caught me by surprise. I won't be buying any of them any time soon.

    AC193 Mechanical Anchors in Concrete Elements

    355.2-07 Qualification of Post-Installed Mechanical Anchors in Concrete & Commentary

    ASTM Standards in BUILDING CODES (DVD, Basic) - BLDGCD-CURRENT

    ES Acceptance Criteria Underlayments and Roofing Compendium (PDF Download) - Compendiums - ES Acceptance Criteria - Standards and Criteria

    ASTM Complete Set - Ordering Options
     
  2. CodeWarrior

    CodeWarrior Active Member

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    I followed up with Mr. Brown on this, who is still on the ICC Board. He actually replied and said he would look into this and get back to me. He has not followed up. May be he did not like what he found?

    Not sure what he is ignoring the forum. I reached him using his ICC email address.
     
  3. Mark K

    Mark K Platinum Member

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    Several things are going on.

    First ICC_ES has market power and can charge monopolistic prices.

    ICC-ES wants you to blindly accept ICC ESR's so they discourage you from accessing the underlying standard.

    This is probably also tied to ICC-ES's position that their acceptance criteria can only be used to produce ICC-ESRs. So first they make the ICC-AC the de facto standard and then do whatever they can to discourage individuals from using the acceptance criteria to test products without paying ICC-ES to produce an ESR.
     
  4. CodeWarrior

    CodeWarrior Active Member

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    He so far is unwilling or unable to reply to the issue. They will cave in and give free copies to code officials only if you complain. Oh well, another one of the mysteries that makes ICC.
    A code official told me the same thing and was offered a "cookie" to drop the issue and go away.
     
  5. jpranch

    jpranch Platinum Member

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    Actually we have been communicating back and forth via email CodeWarrior. I guess that you forgot to mention this. The acceptance criteria is available to all code officials for free that are also ICC members. This is without the supposed complaining mentioned in a previous post. Ignoring you? Really? I had the CEO of ES get back to you the day after you sent me an email? Ignoring the forum? No. Not really. Between family, a full time job, working with the Wyoming Conference of Building Officials, ICC, and being a small land owner with livestock there is only so much time in the day. True that I rarely post. I do a little lurking from time to time. So here is the deal, ICC ES is a business. That business has to make money or it's going to go under. ES employees have mortgage payments, car payments, kids in college or school, health issues, bills to pay. ES is also an ICC company that contributes to the overall health of the organization. ICC, IAS, ES, SRCC, & SWCC are all nonprofits public benefit, "Thrid Sector" type companies. All have employees to take care of and ICC has approximately 63,000 members that expect (and rightfully so) excellent service and goods. I might be wrong here but I suspect that Le No has a bit more on his or her agenda than what appears here on the forum? I have repeatedly asked additional questions and for more information and have not gotten any answers via our many emails back and forth. Sorry for the long response and the delay but I just now found this post after scouring the internet trying to find out who I'm really trying to help. So there it is. Let the bashing begin. Please be gentle.
     
    tmurray and mark handler like this.
  6. jpranch

    jpranch Platinum Member

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    M
    Mark, good to see that you are still here. I can tell you that as far as market power I could only wish that ES had a big stick to swing. Fact is they really don't. Product evaluation is very competitive and in looking at the market place ES is a small fish compared to the competition. I suspect that ES will never be a huge company like U.L. And some others. Yes ES is growing but only has a very small part of the market.
     
  7. jpranch

    jpranch Platinum Member

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    I find your post interesting to say the lease Le No. Especially in light of the three emails we just exchanged as well as the questions I asked in those emails that have gone unanswered?
     
  8. Mark K

    Mark K Platinum Member

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    To compare ICC-ES to UL misses the point. ICC-ES has market power because in some segments of the market, and maybe more so in some geographic regions, it is difficult if not impossible for a manufacturer to sell its product unless the manufacturer has an ICC-ES ESR. This is market power by any definition.

    While you may see ICC-ES as a small player from what I have seen over the years it is clear that ICC and its subsidiaries are intent on world domination. Just look on the web sites of ICC and its subsidiaries and look at the products and services focusing on international markets.

    The way the ICC-ES AC's are priced discourages engineers, architects, and many building officials from informing themselves as to what is the criteria. The ICC-ES AC's used to be free. My guess is that the price for the acceptance criteria is so high that few buy copies and that if the price were lower more would be sold resulting in more income. So why the high price if not to limit access?

    ICC-ES ESR's provide a mechanism that allows many manufacturers to avoid the process associated with modifying the ICC model codes to address their products. Manufacturers have stated that they like the ICC-ES ESR process because it allows them to keep secret information about their products that would otherwise be available if the product was addressed by the building code. How does this help building officials or the public?

    It should be pointed out that the cost of creating the acceptance criteria is paid for by those wanting to get an evaluation report issued so any income from selling the AC's is all profit.

    It is also well understood that most of the content of the acceptance criteria was generated by the manufacturer and its consultants so these costs do not even show up on ICC-ES's balance sheet.
     
  9. jpranch

    jpranch Platinum Member

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    Again ES AC's are free to code officials. World domination? Really? That is just laughable. I (we) could just wish that we had that much clout, ambition, and a snowballs chance in hell of such an insane proposition. Engineers, architects, building owners, home builders, can access the AC's. I know many that are ICC members that are also ICC members in good standing as well as being code officials. Yes the AC's used to be free to all. That is true. What was happening as best I know it was our (ES) AC's were being copied by our competitors at no cost to them. Then they used them for their product evaluations and marketed them. Apparently you have direct access to the balance sheets from ES to make such an exact statement about how and the state of investment vs revenues? International markets? Please tell me how many countries outside of the U.S. adopt the I- Codes? Specific market segments? Where? What segments? Geographical segments? Any place in particular that you would be willing to identify? Last but no least if ES's price structure is so out of line with industry norm's we would already be out of business. Manufacturers will simply go somewhere else.
     
  10. jpranch

    jpranch Platinum Member

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    And please don't pull that agenda 21 crap out. Yes crap. There is no affiliation, no connection. If there was I sure as heck would have no part in it. Conspiracy theories? Sorry, your on your own there.
     
  11. Mark K

    Mark K Platinum Member

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    JP

    I do not know anything about “Agenda 21”

    My reference to world domination was only slightly tongue in cheek. Just look on the web sites of your subsidiaries and see the number of web pages focused on foreign countries. Look at the certifications dealing with sustainability issues that are being offered.

    In California most building officials either insist on or have such a strong preference for ICC-ES evaluation reports that manufacturers have difficulty selling their product without an ICC-ES ESR even if they comply with the building code. This is market power. While the situation in the rest of the country may not be as clear cut I doubt this problem is limited to only California.

    You have more market power than you realize.

    With this market power manufacturers do not have a realistic choice of going elsewhere and thus there is no real competition.

    You do not have to have 100% of the market to be a monopolist. While IAPMO has provides some minimal competition my understanding is that ICC-ES is still able to distort the market and charge premium prices.

    No I do not have access to your balance sheet but the statements I have made have been informed by discussions with manufacturers and others who have done business with ICC-ES

    A few years back a representative of one manufacturer said that he liked evaluation reports because it kept competitors who do not have evaluation reports from competing in California. There was no reason to believe that these competitors products did not comply with the building code. It was just that they did not have an ICC-ES evaluation report.

    When the prices of the AC’s are so high it has the effect of discouraging if not effectively denying access.

    I believe that you are referring to the practice of IAPMO and others obtaining a copy of your acceptance criteria and then using that criteria to generate an evaluation report for products that they would then issue. Of particular relevance is the provision in each AC that says the AC can only be used to generate ICC-ES ESR’s. Because of the cost I have not seen the latest versions

    So apparently instead of taking legal action against anybody who uses your AC’s contrary to your expectations you decided to make such usage less attractive by charging higher fees . The result of this policy is that you discourage the access by others who have legitimate needs to understand the contents of the AC’s. Thus architect, engineers, and some building officials are collateral damage.
     
    jpranch likes this.
  12. CodeWarrior

    CodeWarrior Active Member

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    Well, I guess we are getting somewhere with the AC issue. ICC'S evaluation service is fading as a resource. Their AC hearings used to last 3 days and now they have to stretch to get past lunchtime. To avoid dealing with a sticky issue the staff have sputtered "well, we can only do what the code says." Join a webcast and see for yourself!

    Aren't criteria used to apply the principles in the codes to new products? Has any of the staff engineers worked in a building dept. to learn how to read and interpret codes? Jp brown, have you ever attended these meetings?

    They also have deleted ACs without notice, not realizing that code officials and others may have use for an AC even if ICC does not.
     
  13. jpranch

    jpranch Platinum Member

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    Mark. Good post and I respect your opinion. Sorry about the reference to agenda 21. I thought that was where this was headed. I was wrong and gladly so. I was also not referencing any other SDO or evaluation service company. The comment was meant to be generic. Even before ICC was formed I liked the evaluation reports. I still do. Maybe I'm missing something but I always thought that there was enough information in the report to make a good determination on to accept or deny a given product. I have only denied one report in the past 25 years and that report came from a testing laboratory that was working way outside of their accreditation. If the main objection here is the price structure of ES I'm going to have to tell you that there are no changes on the horizon. CodeWarrior, no we are not getting anywhere here at least as far as establishing any kind of credibility. Your posts here have been... well... let's just say misleading to say the least. If anyone reading this conservation would like to know the contents of the emails between myself, the CEO of ICC ES, and CodeWarrior please send me a private message.
     
  14. jpranch

    jpranch Platinum Member

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    One last thought. Way back in the day I was very, very critical of pretty much everything that ICC did. Even that is an understatement. I was part of what was known back then as a 10%'er. Yep a ten percent'er was someone who thought the ICC was the devil personified. What changed? I was challenged by a few people to get involved. So I did. First through our state chapter. Then some committee service with ICC and eventually the membership elected me to the ICC board. What I came to find out was that I was wrong about my earlier ranting and ravings. Yes there were things that needed attention and things that were broken but on the whole I was wrong. I tell you this not to admonish or elevate my own ego but to just tell a little bit of my story plus nothing. Have a great week all.
     
  15. Phil

    Phil Sawhorse

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    jpranch - "What was happening as best I know it was our (ES) AC's were being copied by our competitors at no cost to them. Then they used them for their product evaluations and marketed them."

    How this working :). Has charging high prices for the AC stopped the competition? Have AC sales offset losses to competitors? I am still disappointed with the high prices. I gave up my ICC membership a couple years ago. While this was not the reason. If ICC provided free access to all members, I might still be a member and feel less disenfranchised:p. I am a particularly pedantic engineer who would read an AC - but no more.

    While we are talking about ES, what's up with the protected pdf format for all ESRs? If some bad guys wants to alter the content, they still can. There are a couple reason that I find this frustrating. Previously, I could highlight pertinent sections for easy reference, but can't with protected pdfs. Some report are over 50 pages (steel decks and adhesive anchors) and I could bookmark pages for quick access, but can't with protected pdfs. When documenting structural calculations, I could extract a page or two and circle the capacity used for design to include in the documentation, but can't with protected pdfs. This stinks. And I feel criminal when I use a less restrictive pdf viewer to create a new unprotected pdf to highlight circle and bookmark. Then I become frustrated because the ESR is updated or revised and I need to waste more time all because ES thinks it is a good idea to protect the pdfs.
     
  16. jpranch

    jpranch Platinum Member

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    I think that I can shed a little light on this. There is a fine balance when it comes to protection of intellectual property. Get too restrictive and you loose sales that keep the lights on. Too loose and your giving your IP away. This might also help. What I have learned is the copyright law is darn complicated. The best answer about protection of copyright I can give you is it depends? I have the PDF versions of the codes and commentaries. I have not had any issues with copy and paste when creating a new document or doing the same for plan review. I'm not a computer expert but I do know that it depends on what version of Adobe you are using. I'll have to look and see what's on my machine at work but I remember that I had to pay for it because of the advanced tools and features that I wanted to use. Hope this helps.
     
  17. jpranch

    jpranch Platinum Member

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    Phil, I think also that you are correct. If another company wants to copy something from another company there is always a way to do that. The best any company can hope for is to make it difficult to do so but at the same time doing the very best to make it user friendly for our membership and customers. Delicate balance.
     
  18. jpranch

    jpranch Platinum Member

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    Fading resource? No, I don't think so. Look at the 990's. The 2016's will be out next month. Then work back from there. Steady growth. Can't argue the numbers.
     
  19. CodeWarrior

    CodeWarrior Active Member

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    jp

    I was noting that there may be a cause and effect on the huge cost assigned to ACs and the Shrinking size of the ICC meetings the lack of energy some ICC staff seem to bring to the proceedings. Are you saying revenue mainly is what defines success now? So, what is ICC planning to do with these spikes in income to serve the building industry or at least the building codes environmment?
     
  20. jpranch

    jpranch Platinum Member

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    The conservation seems to swing wildly back and forth from one thing to the next. Now your getting into our overall business strategy. That I will not comment on. I cannot and will not violate my fiduciary responsibilities and the confidence our members have placed upon me. Btw, I'm still waiting for your response to the questions I asked you in our last two emails?
     

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