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Learning Residential Building Code

Discussion in 'Residential Foundation Codes' started by MarcusGeiser, Aug 7, 2011.

  1. MarcusGeiser

    MarcusGeiser Bronze Member

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    I have the 2009 IBC Code Book. Other than reading the whole thing and studying it how can I learn the codes. Are there study guides by trade I can use to focus on one thing at a time? How have you guys acquired the knowledge you possess? I understand experience will be the greatest teacher but I want to accelerate the learning curve.

    I mainly specialize in residential remodeling. Would the best approach be to take a project by project approach? Furnace, water heaters, roofing, electric service?

    Would downloading manufacturers specifications and studying them for installation procedures be good. I know that Certainteed has books that are excellent.
     
  2. mcyr

    mcyr Member

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  3. Daddy-0-

    Daddy-0- Moderator

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    Marcus,

    Throw out that IBC and go buy a 2009 IRC which is residential. Can you give us a little more info. Do you want to become an inspector or are you trying to produce a better contracting business or what? Obviously the best way to learn a trade is by doing it in the field. If you work with good people who do it right they will teach you good habits. Be a sponge and soak up as much as possible. Some jurisdictions will allow you to do occasional ride alongs with inspectors. If you are friendly they might help you out. Give us some more info on what you are trying to accomplish and people will help.
     
  4. Daddy-0-

    Daddy-0- Moderator

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    .......and welcome to both you and mcyr. I bet Maine is just about perfect right now.
     
  5. MarcusGeiser

    MarcusGeiser Bronze Member

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    I have both in pdf. What I want to do is build a better base of knowledge. I primarily rehab older houses and want to make them safe and up to code. Maybe more than anything else I like what I do and want to be the best I can be. As I move forward and look to invest in real estate I want to be able to analyze the properties with n understanding of how to best renovate them, not just put lipstick on the pig. Part of what I am considering is starting a non profit venture to rehab houses and provide them to homeowners at an affordable rate. I also believe I can use the non profit as a training program to give construction workers a skill set that will enable them to work smarter and understand what they are building.

    I have looked into OSHA Safety Training and Lead Safe Certs, I believe I can set this up to provide much needed services and training. More than anything I think at 38 I have made some money and it is never enough. So I am looking for something more fulfilling. In the end I have a college education and prefer to work doing what I am doing in construction. I enjoy the work and most of the challenges.
     
  6. Mark K

    Mark K Platinum Member

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    If you are renovating residential projects I suggest that you find a structural engineer to work with. You will find a number of situations where the answer is not in the IRC. This is because the IRC is primarily focused on new construction. You may need to repair existing damage, remove bearing walls, or put an opening in a shear wall.

    The other concern has to do with the fact that the existing building may not comply with the current requirements to resist wind or earthquake loadings. As I read the IRC there are few if any requirements to bring the building into compliance with the code but if you are doing a major renovation it would make sense to upgrade the structural system even if not to full compliance with those for new construction.. I doubt that the IRC will provide all the answers in these situations.
     
  7. MarcusGeiser

    MarcusGeiser Bronze Member

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    I have a good engineer I found after posting here about another project. Saved thousands in work for a $250 consult. IRC I think is a good start for understanding the code.
     
  8. tbz

    tbz Silver Member

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    Marcus,

    1st off being in Pittsburgh get yourself a copy of the IRC & IBC as adopted and modified by the State of PA & copies of the modifications by the city of Pittsburgh.

    You may not be aware of it, but the city of Pittsburgh has additional modifications in addition to the state modifications.

    Besides the large amount of reading that goes in to these novels, you have to remember as many an inspector on this site beats in to the ground, the code is the least best way to do the job.

    Shoot for doing each project for the best possible way, asking questions all the time of the vendors you buy your products from, and use the internet to research what you do know and what you may not know to the fullest.

    Over time as one who strives to do things better, you will find that just being code compliant is not enough, exceeding code compliance in your clients best interest becomes the minimum standard.

    Once you achieve that level your clients and the inspectors that review your work will become your best source for new projects.
     
  9. Robert Ellenberg

    Robert Ellenberg Sawhorse

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    The jurisdiction I used to build in adopted the IRC and I decided I wanted to know it and not have to make corrections. I put it (hard copy), colored highlighters and colored tabs by my bed. Each night I would sit in bed until I got sleepy, reading cover to cover--slowly and intently. Each time I read a section I didn't consider "automatic" to my brain, I highlighted it and tabbed that page. Each time I started a new project, I simply took the code book and flipped to each tab I had put to see if there was something I might miss. About a year later I was paid an indirect compliment by hearing that the chief BO had made the statement that I knew the code better than any contractor in the area.
     
  10. bgingras

    bgingras Sawhorse

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    I would highly recomend the code with commentary. That's how I reviewed the change to the 2009 codes here.
     
  11. texasbo

    texasbo Platinum Member

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    Yes, code commentaries are one of the best learning resources for someone just learning the code. There is lots of good narrative, and great graphic examples illustrating situations that are not so easily understood with only words.

    While those who use the code regularly may disagree with some of the interpretations, that doesn't diminish the value of the body of work as a good learning tool.
     
  12. Mule

    Mule Platinum Member

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    There is also a "Significant Changes to the International Residential Code" that is a good book to have. The 2012 editions are already out.
     
  13. TJacobs

    TJacobs Sawhorse

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    All good advice so far. If you are doing 1 and 2 family dwelling work then stick with the IRC. The commentary is a great resource for explaining the intent of the code. tbz said it best...the code is the legal minimum, not a best practice or how-to manual. However, it should have a prominent place in your library.

    There are also training opportunities you can take advantage of as a builder, plus look into joining a local building code officials group...most have some form of associate membership.

    Good luck!
     
  14. KZQuixote

    KZQuixote Sawhorse

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    I suggest that you contact the ICC and ask about taking the test to be a Class C contractor. It's an open book exam that will certainly show you around the IRC.

    Bill
     

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