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Non-frost susceptible soil

bill1952

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While same building (28' x 32' unheated accessory building for storage) I thought a separate thread made sense.

I'd like to use the IRC R403.1.4.1 Frost protection provisions, specifically number 3. Constructed in accordance with ASCE 32.

ASCE32-1: 4.2 FOUNDATIONS ON NON–FROSTSUSCEPTIBLE GROUND OR FILL MATERIAL
Foundations placed on a layer of well-drained, undisturbed ground or fill material that is not susceptible to frost shall have the thickness of such a layer included in meeting the design frost depth defined in Section 3.2. Undisturbed granular soils or fill material with less than 6% of mass passing a #200 (0.074 mm) mesh sieve in accordance with ASTM D422 and other approved non–frost-susceptible materials shall be considered non–frost-susceptible. Classification of frost susceptibility of soil shall be determined by a soils or geotechnical engineer, unless otherwise approved.

I believe this means I collect a sample - 3-4 gallons in a 5 gallon pail from 36 to 42" below grade - and deliver to testing laboratory who employ geotechnical engineers. Assuming it meets that <6% requirement and test results are included with permit application, would you accept it?




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Mark K

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The "geotechnical" engineer needs to have visited the site. There may be other site specific conditions. what if the building is partially located on one type of soil that is expansive in nature and the other part of the building is located on soil that is not conducive to frost heave? Leave it to the opinion of the engineer.

In some states the term geotechnical engineer is protected term limited to certain individuals. Depending on what type of building a civil engineer may be licensed to provide geotechnical engineering services. The building department cannot require a registered geotechnical engineer when the licensing body says a civil engineer can provide those services. One local jurisdiction has been served with a cease and desist letter from the agency licensing engineers because the jurisdiction required a geotechnical engineer when a civil engineer could provide those services.
 

bill1952

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Clayton NY
It will be interesting to see what happens here. The local architect, whom I've learned the building inspector turns to for advice, said just take sample to test lab.

Pretty sure it's same coarse sand up and down this side of valley, and talking to builders and architect, they all say same. And even in this year of week long to torrential rains, never a puddle or any accumulation of water. Architect assured me footing drains - built into a bank up to 3' above slab with cmu - would be waste of money.

So we'll see. I can find a civil engineer if needed.
 

mtlogcabin

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Agree the testing lab needs to collect the samples and identify the property that they came from in their report.
The test materials collected need to be at the same depth as the bottom of your foundation. This will not address the area under the slab that the building department is concerned with and wants you to insulate.
or fill material that is not susceptible to frost
This is what the city paid an engineer to do 30 years ago so builders could use a mono slab design in our area for garages and other unheated non occupied buildings. 6" of washed gravel and gutters and downspouts that direct the water away from the building and that's it.
I can only guess that the cost of a geo tech engineer will be close if not more than installing the insulation the building department says should be there.

Remember the code is the worst standard you can legally build to. It is not meant to be the best and it does not cover everything
 

mtlogcabin

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Not so much a mistrust of owners. The engineer is liable for the rest of his life for the engineering work that they do. Their E & O and liability insurance is very expensive so unless you are good friends with the engineer they will most likely not certify the method you are describing.

If you owned a garage and I carried a carburetor in for a rebuild would you guarantee it to work properly for the rest of your life. That is what an architect and engineer basically do every time they put their signature and stamp on a construction job. The apartment building collapse in Miami FL this year is a good example. Every Architect and Engineer that had anything to do with the design of that building 40 years ago may still be liable if there was an error in their design that contributed to the collapse.
 

bill1952

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Clayton NY
Equating a small private barn with a 190' hotel seems disproportionate. My little barn sagging is not quite like an occupied hotel collapsing, especially since if the barn were full of livestock or agri-product, a bonafide ag building, there is no review and no codes for it at all here. I wonder if buying a goat or some animal for the duration of construction would be less expensive than the $1500-2000 of foam.
 

bill1952

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Clayton NY
No edit function here but just fyi, definition of ag buildings exempt from building and fire codes in NYS:

"A structure designed and constructed to house farm equipment, farm implements, poultry, livestock, hay, grain, or other horticultural products. This structure shall not be a place of human habitation or a place of employment where agricultural products are processed, treated or packaged, nor shall it be a place used by the public."
 

Mark K

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So if the engineer is personally liable for the duration of his life what is the building official or plan checkers liability. The engineers liability is personal and does not disappear if his firm does not have sufficient assets or goes out of business.

While the building official and plan checker have no liability when enforcing the building code there is an exemption that says if they go beyond the adopted regulations and require something not required by the regulations they too can be liable. So why do building departments regularly require stuff that is not required by the regulations.
 

mtlogcabin

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So why do building departments regularly require stuff that is not required by the regulations.
The ones that do are wrong. Requiring something that is over and above or not within the code I don't think will get someone hurt, maimed or killed. However ignoring certain code requirements may result in just that.
Remember the Colorado case that had 2 inspectors facing criminal charges when a family was killed by a leaking gas vent on a brand new home. That one got dismissed because the charges where filed a day or two past the allotted time if I remember right. It is just a matter of time before something happens again that will bring criminal charges against an inspector when something was overlooked (intentional or not) that resulted in somebody being killed.
 

bill1952

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Clayton NY
So discused this soil permability testing option with building official and he doesn't like or recommend it, but would accept it if I pushed - my taking sample and all - just as recommended by RDP. He would prefer 16" of 2" vertical foam on stem wall and a 24" horizontal piece, which is not even close to ASCE 30 or the IRC for heated buildings, and further from the standard for unheated. I'm tempted to do $215 soil test for me, and bury $500 worth of foam to make building official happy. If I just did foam, and building official was replaced between permit approval and footing inspection, I might have a problem.
 

Mark K

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I find this situation, where a building owner believes it is necessary to spend $500 on something not required by the code to keep the building official happy, disturbing. How does this differ from extortion?

I suggest that the building officials response should have been to indicate the proposal was acceptable and not to indicate that "...he doesn't like or recommend it, but would accept it if I pushed"
 

bill1952

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I appreciate his opinions; more bothered by his recommending and accepting a non-compliant design. There is no hint of other than being sincere and honest and trying to be helpful and believing that what he recommends will work. I was taken aback by his assertion that with foam around the perimeter of an unheated thickened edge slab of any size, it would not freeze under the center of that slab. I'm guessing it works around here because the soil is non-frost susceptable. No mud puddles even in torrential rain.
 

Mark K

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A non-compliant design accepted by the building official results in a non code compliant building.
 

tmurray

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If I just did foam, and building official was replaced between permit approval and footing inspection, I might have a problem.
There is recent case law of something similar here in Canada where this happened. Original BO approved less than what code required, then the new BO overrode the original approval. The owner took the municipality to court and won because the new BO violated the concept of procedural fairness (specifically, the sub-concept of reasonable expectation). Basically, once the decision was mad by the original BO, it bound the municipality. The new BO had no legal authority to overrule. Reasonable expectation in Canadian law is composed of 4 elements:

1. where an agreement was made
2. the agreement was to follow a certain process
3. In respect to an interested person (establishes standing)
4. The person relied on that agreement
 

Mark K

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Do not believe this applies in the States. There must be limits to this "reasonable expectation" doctrine. Surely it should not be used to justify an unsafe situation.

A not uncommon situation is where the design is not compliant but a permit was issued without any indication that the building official knew it was not compliant. In such a situation there was no agreement so the reasonable exception theory would not apply.
 

mtlogcabin

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In our state amendments
(29) The building official may waive minor building code violations that do not constitute an imminent threat to property or to the health, safety, or welfare of any person.
 

bill1952

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Clayton NY
A non-compliant design accepted by the building official results in a non code compliant building.
Covers a lot of ground. A footing an inch shallow on my garage to a wholly undersized beam (ala Hard Rock).

As a designer, I prioritized first I felt it was safe, second the building official/ahj felt it was safe, and third, it complied with all applicable codes and standards.

In this case, for 1 & 3, I expect it to meet code by the non-frost susceptible soil. If soil fails test then I consider a compliant SFPF with lots of foam OR lower footing to 48". For 2, I'll put in the perimeter foam.

Now you can debate if me vs. an engineer collecting soil sample and taking it to test lab is code compliant, but I believe, as does RDP and official, it is.

And what are consequences if it heaves? I drive around here and probably a third of half the buildings - houses and out buildings and some major commercial buildings - clearly sag or lean. (Adds character!)
 
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