5 Steps to a Successful Soft-Story Retrofit

Last year, I gave a presentation at the annual National Council of Structural Engineers Associations (NCSEA) Summit in Orlando, Florida, titled “Becoming a Trusted Advisor: Communication and Selling Skills for Structural Engineers.” As this was a summit for the leaders of the structural engineers associations from across the country, I wasn’t sure how many people would find it valuable to spend their time learning about a very nontechnical topic. To my surprise and delight, the seminar ended up being standing-room only, and I was able to field some great questions from the audience about how they could improve their selling and communication skills. In the many conversations I had with the conference attendees after my presentation, the common theme was that engineers felt they needed more soft-skills training in order to better serve their clients. The problem, however, was finding the time to do so when faced with the daily grind of design work.

Structural Engineers In a Training for Seismic Retrofits

Presenting at the NCSEA Summit, I’m the tiny person in upper left hand corner.

When I started my first job as a design engineer at a structural engineering consulting firm straight out of school, I was very focused on improving and expanding my technical expertise. Whenever possible, I would attend building-code seminars, design reviews and new product solution presentations, all in an effort to learn more about structural engineering. What I found as I progressed through my career, however, was that no matter how much I learned or how hardworking I was, it didn’t really matter if I couldn’t successfully convey my knowledge or ideas to the person who really mattered most: the client.

Contractors discussing building plans with an engineer.

Contractors discussing building plans with an engineer.

How can an engineer be most effective in explaining a proposed action or solution to a client? You have to be able to effectively sell your idea by understanding the needs of your client as well as any reasons for hesitation. The importance of effective communication and persuasion is probably intuitive to anyone who’s been on the sales side of the business, but not something that occurs naturally to data-driven folks like engineers. As a result of recent legislation in California, however, structural engineers are starting to be inundated with questions from a group of folks who have suddenly found themselves responsible for seismically upgrading their properties: apartment building owners in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Imagine for a moment that you are a building owner who has received a soft-story retrofit notice under the City of Los Angeles’ Ordinance 183893; you have zero knowledge of structural engineering or what this term “soft-story” even means. Who will be your trusted advisor to help you sort it out? The City of Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety (LADBS) has put together a helpful mandatory ordinance website that explains the programs and also offers an FAQ for building owners that lets them know the first step in the process: hire an engineer or architect licensed in the state of California to evaluate the building.

Simpson Strong-Tie Structural Engineer Annie Kao at a jobsite.

Checking out some soft story buildings in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Times has a great map tool.

I’ve had the opportunity to be the first point of contact for a building owner after they received a mandatory notice, because it turns out some relatives own an apartment building with soft-story tuck-under parking. Panicked by the notice, they called me looking to understand why they were being forced to retrofit a building that “never had any problems in the past.” They were worried they would lose rent money due to tenants needing to relocate, worried about how to meet the requirements of the ordinance and, most importantly, worried about how much it was going to cost them. What they really wanted was a simple, straightforward answer to their questions, and I did my best to explain the necessity behind retrofitting these vulnerable buildings and give an estimated time frame and cost that I had learned from attending the first Los Angeles Retrofit Resource Fair in April 2016. With close to 18,000 buildings in the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles alone that have been classified as “soft-story,” this equates to quite a number of building owners who will have similar questions and be searching for answers.

To help provide an additional resource, Simpson Strong-Tie will be hosting a webinar for building owners in the Los Angeles area who have received a mandatory soft-story retrofit notice. Jeff Ellis and I will be covering “5 Steps to a Successful Retrofit” and helping to set a clear project path for building owners. The five steps that Simpson Strong-Tie will be recommending are:

  1. Understanding the Seismic Retrofit Mandate
  2. Partnering with Design Professionals
  3. Submitting Building Plans with the Right Retrofit Product Solutions
  4. Communicating with Your Building Tenants
  5. Completing Your Soft-Story Retrofit

We encourage you to invite any clients or potential clients to attend this informative webinar, which will lay the foundation for great communication between the two of you. As part of the webinar, we will be asking the building owners for their comments, questions and feedback so we can better understand what information they need to make informed decisions, and we will be sure to share these with the structural engineering community in a future post. By working together to support better communication and understanding among all stakeholders in retrofit projects, we will be well on our way to creating stronger and more resilient communities!

For additional information or articles of interest, there are several resources available:

Coating Evaluation for Fasteners – Code-Approved and Alternative Coatings

Who likes red rust? No one I know! How do we avoid corroding of fasteners? Corrosion can be controlled or eliminated by providing a corrosion-resistant base metal or a protective finish or coating that is capable of withstanding the exposure environment. When fasteners get corroded, they not only look bad from outside but can also lose their load capacity. To ensure continued fastener performance, we have to control for corrosion. This blog focuses on evaluating the corrosion resistance of the fasteners.

What does the building code specify?

For use in preservative-treated wood, the IBC-2015 specifies fasteners that are hot-dipped galvanized, stainless steel, silicon bronze or copper. Section 2304.10.5.1 of IBC-2015 (Figure 1) covers fastener and connector requirements for preservative-treated wood (chemically treated wood). While chemically treated wood is part of the corrosion hazard, it is not the whole corrosion hazard. Weather exposure, airborne chemicals and other environmental conditions contribute to the corrosion hazard for metal hardware. In addition, the main issue with the code-referenced requirements for fasteners and connectors used with preservative-treated wood is that not all preservative treatments deliver the same corrosion hazard and not all fasteners can be hot-dip galvanized.

Figure 1: Section 2304.10.5.1 IBC-2015.

Figure 1: Section 2304.10.5.1 IBC-2015.

What if we want to use an alternative base material or coating for fasteners?

How do we evaluate the corrosion resistance of the alternative material or coating? The codes do not provide test methods to evaluate alternate materials and coatings. However, the International Code Council–Evaluation Service (ICC-ES) developed acceptance criteria to evaluate alternative coatings that are not code recognized for use in different environments. The purpose of acceptance criteria ICC-ES AC257, Acceptance Criteria for Corrosion-Resistant Fasteners and Evaluation of Corrosion Effects of Wood Treatment Chemicals, is twofold: (1) to establish requirements for evaluating the corrosion resistance of fasteners that are exposed to wood-treatment chemicals, weather and salt corrosion in coastal areas; and (2) to evaluate the corrosion effects of wood-treatment chemicals. In this blog post, we will concentrate on the evaluation of corrosion resistance of fasteners. The criteria provide a protocol to evaluate the corrosion resistance of fasteners where hot-dip galvanized fasteners serve as a performance benchmark. The fasteners evaluated by these criteria are nails or screws that are exposed directly to wood-treatment chemicals and that may be exposed to one or more corrosion accelerators like high humidity, elevated temperatures, high moisture or salt exposure.

The fasteners may be evaluated for any of the four exposure conditions:

  1. Exposure Condition 1 with high humidity. This test can be used to evaluate fasteners that could be exposed to high humidity. Typical applications that fall under this category are treated wood in dry-use applications.
  2. Exposure Condition 2 with untreated wood and salt water. This test can be used to evaluate fasteners that are above ground but exposed to coastal salt exposure.
  3. Exposure Condition 3 with chemically treated wood and moisture. This test covers all the general construction applications.
  4. Exposure Condition 4 with chemically treated wood and salt water. Typical applications include coastal construction applications.

Depending on the exposure condition being used for fastener evaluation, the fasteners are installed in wood that could be either chemically treated or untreated. Then the wood and the fasteners are placed in the chamber and artificially exposed to the evaluation environment. Two types of test procedures are to be completed for exposure condition 2 through 4. The purpose of these tests is not to predict the corrosion resistance of the coatings being evaluated, but to compare them to fasteners with the benchmark coating (ASTM A153, Class D) in side-by-side exposure to the accelerated corrosion environment.

ASTM B117 Continuous Salt-Spray Test

ASTM B117 is a continuous salt-spray test. For Exposure Condition 3, distilled water is used instead of salt water. The fasteners are continuously exposed to either moisture or salt spray in this test, and the test is run for about 1,440 hours after which the fasteners are evaluated for corrosion. This is an accelerated corrosion test that exposes the fasteners to a corrosive attack so the corrosion resistance of the coatings can be compared to a benchmark coating (hot-dip galvanized).

ASTM G85, Annex A5

The second test is ASTM G85, Annex A5 which is a cyclic test with alternate wet and dry cycles. The cycles are 1-hour dry-off and 1-hour fog alternatively. This is a cyclic accelerated corrosion test and relates more closely to real long-term exposure. This test is more representative of the actual environment than the continuous salt-spray test.  As in the ASTM B117 test, the fasteners along with the wood are exposed to 1,440 hours, after which the corrosion on the fasteners is evaluated and compared to fasteners with the benchmark coating.

Test Method and Evaluation

The test process involves installing 10 benchmark fasteners along with 10 fasteners for each alternative coating being evaluated. The fasteners are arranged in the wood with a spacing of 12 times the fastener diameter between the fasteners. A kerf cut is provided in the wood between the fasteners to isolate the fasteners as shown in Figure 2 and to ensure elevated moisture content in the wood surrounding the fastener shank. The moisture and retention levels of the wood are measured, and the fasteners are then installed in the chamber as shown in Figure 3 and exposed to the designated condition. The test is run for the period specified, after which the fasteners are removed, cleaned and compared to the benchmark for corrosion evaluation. Figure 4 shows the wood and fastener heads after 1,440 hours (60 days). The heads and shanks of the fasteners are visually graded for corrosion in accordance with ASTM D610. If the alternate coating performs equivalent to or better than the benchmark coating — that is, if the corrosion is no greater than in the benchmark — then the coating has passed the test and can be used as an alternative to the code-approved coating. Figure 5 shows the benchmark and alternative fasteners that are removed from the chamber after 1,440 hours.

As you can see, the alternative coatings have to go through extended and rigorous testing and evaluation as part of the approval process before being specified for any of the fasteners. Some alternative coatings provide even better corrosion resistance than the code recognized options. Sometimes, also, the thickness of these alternative coatings may be smaller than the thick coating required for hot-dip galvanized parts. Some of our coatings, such as the Double-Barrier coating, the Quik Guard® coating and the ASTM B695 Class 55 Mechanically Galvanized have gone through this rigorous testing and have been approved for use in preservative-treated wood in the AC257 Exposure Conditions 1 and 3. In addition, these coatings have been qualified for use with chemical retentions that are typical of AWPA Use Category 4A – General Ground Contact. No salt is found in AC257 Exposure Conditions 1 and 3. Please refer to our Fastener Systems Catalog, C-F-14, pages 13–15 for corrosion recommendations and pages 16–17 for additional information on coatings.

What do you look for specifically in a fastener? Do you have a preference for a certain coating type or color? Let us know in the comments below!

Figure 2: Fasteners with different coatings along with the benchmark, installed in wood and separated by kerf cuts.

Figure 2: Fasteners with different coatings along with the benchmark, installed in wood and separated by kerf cuts.

Figure 3: Fasteners and wood pieces installed in the chamber.

Figure 3: Fasteners and wood pieces installed in the chamber.

Figure 4: Snap shot of fasteners in ASTM B117 chamber after 1,440 hours.

Figure 4: Snap shot of fasteners in ASTM B117 chamber after 1,440 hours.

Figure 5: Fasteners after 1,440 hours of exposure, removed from the wood, cleaned and compared to benchmark. Coating 1 – Benchmark (Hot- dip Galvanized) and Coating 2 (Alternative coating).

Figure 5: Fasteners after 1,440 hours of exposure, removed from the wood, cleaned and compared to benchmark. Coating 1 – Benchmark (Hot- dip Galvanized) and Coating 2 (Alternative coating).

Habitat for Humanity Introduces Habitat Strong Program

You’re probably already familiar with Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit builder of simple, decent and affordable homes for low-income families around the world. According to builderonline.com, they were the 15th-largest builder in the country in 2015 when ranked by number of closings. Simpson Strong-Tie has been an official national partner with Habitat for Humanity since 2007, making contributions of cash and products exceeding $2.5 million in that time, and Simpson Strong-Tie employees have spent hundreds of hours building homes and training local Habitat affiliates.

Habitat for Humanity Home

We know from working on Habitat houses that they tend to be well built. There were newspaper articles about Habitat houses performing better than neighboring houses in Hurricane Andrew. In an effort to better benefit the homeowners they serve, Habitat has recently started a formal program to build even better, code-plus homes that could stand up to local hazards and document the methods used during construction. The name of this new program is Habitat Strong. Simpson Strong-Tie is proud to be a major sponsor of the program.

Habitat Strong actually began as a pilot project funded by Travelers Insurance that built 20 disaster-resistant homes in Alabama, Mississippi, New York and Connecticut. The success of that project convinced Habitat of the importance of building stronger, more resilient homes in all parts of the country. Starting from those regional hurricane-inspired efforts, the Habitat Strong program is now being used by more than 48 affiliates throughout the country, as shown on this map.

Habitat for Humanity Habitat Strong affiliate map.

According to Habitat for Humanity, “The Habitat Strong program is designed to promote the building of homes that are more durable, resilient, and physically stronger. The need for stronger homes has become increasingly apparent, and through Habitat Strong’s fortified codes-plus building practices, we are able to strengthen homes’ building envelopes, which enable[s] them to better withstand natural disasters in every region of the country. This program was developed specifically for the Habitat model to be affordable and volunteer-friendly, while offering benefits to partner families that will last for years to come. Based on these principles, we believe that building homes Habitat Strong is the right thing to do!”

Habitat for Humanity has established a set of construction standards for Habitat Strong that are based on the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety® (IBHS) FORTIFIED Home™ program. The FORTIFIED program is a scientifically developed, systems-based incremental approach for creating stronger, safer homes. There are three levels of FORTIFIED Home™ designations: Bronze, Silver and Gold. Each level builds upon measures at the preceding level to increase the disaster resistance of the home. You can take a look at the FORTIFIED Home standards on the IBHS website at www.disastersafety.org.

There are now three separate sets of FORTIFIED Home™ standards: Hurricane, High Wind & Hail, and High Wind. In general, the three levels consist of the following:

Bronze:

  • Strengthen roof deck fastening by using 8d ring-shank nails in a closer-than-normal nailing pattern.
  • Apply a secondary water barrier to the roof deck so there will still be protection from water damage even if the roof covering is blown off.
  • Install a roof covering that is rated for high winds and, if appropriate, hail forces.
  • Prune nearby trees to prevent damage to the home during a wind event.

Silver:

  • Complete all requirements for Bronze.
  • Brace gable ends over 4′ tall and ensure they are sheathed with a minimum thickness of wood structural panel.
  • Anchor wood frame chimneys to the roof structure.
  • Anchor attached structures, such as porches and carports, from the roof to the foundation.

Gold:

  • Complete all requirements for Silver.
  • Provide a continuous load path for wind forces from the roof to the foundation. In a normal 115-mph wind zone, the load path is to be designed for at least 140 mph.
  • Provide a garage door that is rated for high winds.

Habitat for Humanity is recommending to their affiliates that homes built in coastal areas be built to the IBHS Gold standard for hurricanes, and those built in inland areas be built at a minimum to the Bronze or Silver standards for high winds. The Habitat homes that meet the Bronze or Silver standards will be certified as Habitat Strong. Habitat homes that are built to the Gold standard will be certified as Habitat Strong+.

Simpson Strong-Tie is proud to be assisting Habitat for Humanity with Habitat Strong. In January, we hosted a training for Texas affiliates that was offered by Habitat and IBHS staff at our Houston training facility. We also donated connectors for a demonstration home at Michigan State University that we helped design.

If you would like more information on Habitat Strong, contact HabitatStrong@habitat.org. To learn how you can help Habitat for Humanity, visit www.habitat.org/getinv/volunteer.

Are you aware of any other programs for strengthening affordable housing? Let us know in the comments below.

 

 

 

Florida Product Approvals Made Simple

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This year, the new 5th Edition of the Florida Building Code was released and is now in effect statewide. First printed in 2002, the Florida Building Code was developed as part of Florida’s response to the destruction caused by Hurricane Andrew and other hurricanes in the state.

Another component, which I would like to take a closer look at in today’s post, is a separate Florida Product Approval system designed to be a single source for approval of construction products for manufacturers, Designers and code enforcers. This single system streamlines the previous approach of different procedures for product approval in different jurisdictions. While statewide approval is not required, many jurisdictions, manufacturers and specifiers prefer using the statewide system to the alternative, which is called local product approval. To ensure uniformity of the state system, Florida law compels local jurisdictions to accept state-approved products without requiring further testing and evaluation of other evidence, as long as the product is being used consistent with the conditions of its approval.

The rules of the Florida Product Approval system are in Florida Rule 61G20-3. Here is some basic information about Florida Product Approval.

The Florida Product Approval system is only available for “approval of products and systems, which comprise the building envelope and structural frame, for compliance with the structural requirements of the Florida Building Code.” So users will only find certain types of products approved there. However, if you work in areas where design for wind resistance is required, the Florida system can be a gold mine of information for tested, rated and evaluated products. Not only will you find products like Simpson Strong-Tie connectors with our ICC-ES and IAPMO UES evaluation reports, but thousands of other tested and rated windows, doors, shutters, roof covering materials and other products that don’t typically get evaluation reports from national entities. The specific categories of products covered under the Florida system are exterior doors, impact protective systems, panel walls, roofing, shutters, skylights, structural components and windows.

To protect consumers, a recent law passed in Florida states that a product may not be advertised, sold or marketed as offering protection from hurricanes, windstorms or wind-borne debris unless it has either State Product Approval or local product approval. Selling unapproved products in this way is considered a violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.

Once a manufacturer understands the process for achieving a statewide approval, it is not difficult to achieve, but it can be expensive. The manufacturer must apply on the State of Florida Building Code Information System (BCIS) website at www.floridabuilding.org. To prove compliance with the code, the manufacturer must upload either a test report, a product certification from an approved certification entity, an evaluation report from a Florida Professional Engineer or Architect, or an evaluation report from an approved evaluation entity (ICC-ES, IAPMU UES, or Miami-Dade County Product Control). Then, the manufacturer must hire an independent validator to review the application to ensure it complies with the Product Approval Rule and that there are no clerical errors. Finally, once the validation is complete, staff from the Department of Business and Professional Regulation reviews the application. Depending on the method used to indicate code compliance, the application may be approved at that time or it may have to go through additional review by the Florida Building Commission.

Here are several ways to find out if a product is approved.

  1. For Simpson Strong-Tie products, we maintain a page on www.strongtie.com that lists our Florida Product Approvals.
  2. The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation maintains a page where users can search Product Approvals by categories such as manufacturer, category of product, product name, or other attributes such as impact resistance or design pressure.
  3. A third-party group we work with has created a website called www.ApprovalZoom.com that lists various product evaluations and product approvals. In addition to listing Florida Product Approvals, they also list ICC-ES evaluation reports, Miami-Dade County Notices of Acceptance, Texas Department of Insurance Approvals, Los Angeles Department of Building Safety Approvals, AAMA certifications and Keystone certifications among others.
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Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation Product Approvals search

The process for searching for approved products on the Florida BCIS is fairly simple.

  1. Go to www.floridabuilding.org
  2. On the menu on the left side of the page, click on Product Approval. Or, click this link to go directly to the search page.
  3. On the Product Approval Menu, click on Find a Product or Application. Note that at this location you can also search for approved organizations such as certification agencies, evaluation entities, quality assurance entities, testing laboratories and validation entities.
  4. Ensure the proper Code Version is shown. The current 2014 Florida Code is based on the 2012 International Codes.
  5. At this point, several options can be searched. You can search for all approvals by a specific product manufacturer or a certain type of building component by searching Category and Subcategory, or if searching for a specific product, by entering the manufacturer’s name and the product name.
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Select the option highlighted in red

I hope you find the information contained in the Florida Product Approval system useful. Do you have other needs to find approved products?

Newest Connector to Satisfy Code

“Does Simpson Strong-Tie write the building code?”

If you work at Simpson Strong-Tie, you get asked this question from time to time when you’re in the field. Over the years, I’ve heard it dozens of times, and because the answer is obviously “no,” it makes you wonder why this belief persists with so many people in the industry. Well, here is my theory: We develop and test products for new code provisions faster than it takes states to adopt the newest codes. So a designer, contractor or building official will often hear about a new Simpson Strong-Tie product or tested application that fills a need before their state building code even defines what that need is. Here are some recent examples:

  • The FWAZ foundation anchor released in 2007 for a 2006 IRC provision that addresses soil pressure loads on basement walls
  • Strong-Drive® SDS screw testing for deck ledgers published in 2008 as alternates to bolts and lags that weren’t prescribed in the IRC until the 2009 edition
  • The DTT2 deck tension tie released in 2009 is used for a 2009 IRC provision that addresses lateral loads on decks
  • BPS ½ -6 bearing plate released in 2011 to address new provisions for shear wall bearing plates in the 2008 SDPWS, which is referenced in the 2009 and 2012 IBC

The latest example is the DTT1Z deck tension tie. Two of our engineers, Randy Shackelford and David Finkenbinder, attended the ICC hearings that resulted in the new 2015 IRC. As soon as a new provision was passed to provide an alternate 750-pound deck lateral load connection (submitted by Washington Assoc. of Building Officials, not Simpson Strong-Tie) we began working on a connector designed to do the job. After several months of R&D, field trials and new tooling, our presses began to stamp out the first production run of the DTT1Z to meet the 2015 IRC provision on December 30, 2014.

DTT1Z Production Run

DTT1Z Production Run

2015 IRC Detail

2015 IRC Detail

The IRC detail shows an ideal condition where the bottom of the deck joist lines up with the wall plates in the house. We tested this application, but we also wanted to support variations that may come up in the field. The results of this testing appear in our T-C-DECKLAT15 technical bulletin. We also tested the DTT1Z with our Strong-Drive® SDWH Timber-Hex HDG screw and our Titen HD® concrete screw anchor so it can be used in a variety of applications, including prescriptive wall bracing and (very) light shear walls. Many of these applications are covered in the code report (ER130) that was completed just this past week.

2015 IRC Test Setup

Test setup: 2015 IRC detail

Joist Scab Test Setup

Test setup: Blocking attached to side of joist

Joist Blocking Test Setup

Test setup: Blocking running between joists

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are interested in reading more about the new IRC deck provisions, Randy wrote about them in his Code Corner column in the current Structural Report and David wrote about them in this blog last August.

In case you are wondering how I respond when asked if we write the code, lately I have been answering it with another question: No, but do you know who is responsible for writing the code? My answer to this is “all of us.” If you don’t like what is in there now, work with an association that represents your interests (NCSEA for a lot of us) to submit a code-change proposal, or even submit one yourself. There is no guarantee it will get in, but if it involves a connection, I can guarantee we will get working on it right away!

Let us know if you see a need for a new connection product. If you already have a product idea and would like to work with us to develop it, you can more-formally submit it here.

Here Come 2015 IBC Changes!

All of us here at Simpson Strong-Tie hope you had a happy and successful 2014. It seems that the folks at the International Code Council had a good year. True to their plan, the 2015 editions of the International Codes were published during the summer so that they are ready for adoption in 2015.

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SE blog 2Simpson Strong-Tie was tracking a number of issues during the development of the 2015 International Building Code and International Residential Code. Here is a summary of some of the significant changes that users will see in the 2015 International Building Code (IBC).

One significant change affecting Simpson Strong-Tie was the removal of the requirements for evaluation of joist hangers and similar devices from Chapter 17, and the revision of Sections 2303.5 and 2304.10.3 to reference ASTM D 7147 as the test standard for joist hangers.

Since the primary reference standard for design in Chapter 16, ASCE 7-10 has not changed; there were not a lot of significant changes in that chapter. The definitions of “Diaphragm, rigid” and “Diaphragm, flexible” were deleted from Chapter 2, and a sentence was added to 1604.4 stating when a diaphragm can be considered rigid, along with a reference to ASCE 7 for determining when designs must account for increased forces from torsion due to eccentricity in the lateral force resisting system.

In Chapter 19, significant improvements were made to the sections that modify ACI 318 so that the IBC and the standard are coordinated, correcting the problems in the 2012 IBC.  In addition, Sections 1908 (ASD design of anchorage to concrete) and 1909 (strength design of anchorage to concrete) were deleted to remove any conflict with ACI 318 anchor design methods.

In Chapter 23, a new section was added to address cross-laminated timber, requiring that they be manufactured and identified as required in APA PRG 320. The wood framing fastening schedule was completely reorganized to make it easier to use and the requirements for protection of wood from decay and termites were rewritten. Section 2308 on Conventional Light-Frame Construction was completely reorganized with significant revisions to the wall bracing section. As discussed in an earlier blog post, the holdown requirement for the portal frame with holdowns (now called PFH bracing method in the 2015 IBC) has been reduced from a required capacity of 4,200 pounds to 3,500 pounds.

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For designers, some of the most significant changes are in Chapter 35, which lists referenced standards. Some major standards that were updated for this edition of the IBC include ACI318-14, ACI530/530.1-13, several AISI standards (S100-12, S200-12, S214-12, and S220-11), several new and revised ASCE standards (8-14, 24-13, 29-14, 49-07, and 55-10), almost all the AWC standards (WFCM-2015, NDS-2015, STJR-2015, PWF-2015 and SDPWS-2015), AWS D1.4/D1.4M-2011, most NFPA standards (too many to list), PTI DC-10.5-12, SBCA FS 100-12 and TPI 1-14.

Kudos to the American Wood Council. They have posted view-only versions of all their referenced standards online, so designers do not have to buy new editions every time the code changes. AISI also enables one to download PDFs of the framing standards at www.aisistandards.org.

Finally, a couple of ICC Standards were updated to new versions that are referenced in the IBC: ICC-500-14, ICC/NSSA Standard on the Design and Construction of Storm Shelters; and ICC 600-14, Standard for Residential Construction in High-Wind Regions.

A future blog post will cover significant changes in the 2015 IRC. Please share your comments below.

Code Reports for New Specialty Cast-In-Place Inserts

This week’s blog post was written by Ryan Vuletic, Manager of Engineering/R&D for Anchor Systems. Prior to joining Simpson Strong-Tie in 2001, he was a structural engineering consultant on projects such as state highways and bridges, Las Vegas hotels and casinos, Disney entertainment buildings and military facilities. Ryan received his B.S. in civil engineering from the University of California Irvine and MBA from the University of Southern California. He is a registered professional engineer in California.

Over the last decade, special types of cast-in-place inserts such as the Simpson Strong-Tie® Blue Banger Hanger® threaded insert have become very popular for anchoring suspended mechanical, electrical and plumbing equipment, piping and conduit.These types of anchors are quickly fastened to wood formwork, or through corrugated metal deck before concrete is poured.

Blue Banger Hanger® Metal Deck Insert (BBMD)

Blue Banger Hanger® Metal Deck Insert (BBMD)

Blue Banger Hanger® Wood Form Insert (BBWF)

Blue Banger Hanger® Wood Form Insert (BBWF)



Up until now, design engineers who wanted to specify these anchors had to address the question of code-compliance since these anchors are not specifically included within ACI 318 Appendix D or the International Building Code (IBC).

This issue has now been resolved through the code report process. On October 1, 2014, Simpson Strong-Tie received the first code report (ICC-ES ESR-3707) for this type of anchor under ICC-ES AC 446. The code report:

  • Covers all sizes of the Blue Banger Hanger Wood Form Inserts (BBWF) and Metal Deck Inserts (BBMD)
  • Addresses both cracked and uncracked normal-weight concrete and sand-lightweight concrete
  • Addresses static, wind and seismic loads

AC 446 (Acceptance Criteria for Headed Cast-In Specialty Inserts in Concrete) is a relatively new approval criteria that was developed by Simpson Strong-Tie and several other anchor manufacturers. It was adopted by ICC Evaluation Service in June 2013. Anchors that are approved under these criteria will utilize ACI 318 Appendix D and are deemed to conform to Sections 1908 and 1909 of the 2012 IBC.

Testing in accordance with AC446 establishes the strength of headed cast-in specialty inserts based on the strength design provisions of ACI 318. Although the shear testing requirements of this criteria are similar to those found in AC 193/ACI 355.2, the tension tests required are performed in a unique manner. The tension tests and the seismic tension tests are conducted in a steel jig.

The tests are conducted in this fashion to validate that the specialty insert has a strength that exceeds the calculated concrete breakout strength when f’c is set at 10,000 psi (maximum compressive strength permitted per ACI 318). The test program determines the following parameters for the specialty insert:

  • Nominal tension strength
  • Nominal seismic tension strength
  • Nominal steel shear strength
  • Nominal steel shear strength for seismic loading
  • Nominal steel shear strength in the soffit of concrete on metal deck
  • Nominal steel shear strength for seismic loading in the soffit of concrete on metal deck

This new qualification procedure and code report will give designers increased confidence that they can now properly design and specify the Simpson Strong-Tie Blue Banger Hanger and comply with the requirements of the 2012 IBC. What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.

Changes in IBC from 2009 to 2012: Seismic Design

The transition from one building code to the next always begs the question, “how is the newer code different?” There are several changes between the 2009 IBC and 2012 IBC that will change the way designers approach seismic design. This blog post is a broad overview of some of the changes. Since it’s not practical to cover all the changes between the previous and new codes in detail in one post, the discussion will be mainly on 2012 IBC and the corresponding ASCE7-10 reference standard.

Seismic ground motion map

Seismic ground motion map

The seismic ground motion maps have been updated to match ASCE7-10. The titles of the maps in IBC were revised from “Maximum Considered Earthquake Ground Motion” to “Risk-Targeted Maximum Considered Earthquake (MCER) Ground Motion Response Accelerations” in order to reflect the titles in 2009 NEHRP and ASCE 7-10. As in previous editions, some areas will prove difficult to read due to the contour lines, so the USGS site and GPS coordinates are recommended (http://earthquake.usgs.gov). Additional information about changes made for 2009 NEHRP is available at www.nibs.org or www.bssconline.org.

The term “occupancy category” was replaced with “risk category” in the 2012 IBC for consistency with the term used in ASCE 7-10. This change was made because it was decided that the use of the word “occupancy” implied the category was directly tied to occupancy classifications in the code, while the word “risk” more accurately communicates that the category is based on acceptable risk of failure.

Seis-pic 2ASCE7-10 revised the way designers use the corresponding Drift amplification, Cd, and Overstrength factor, Ωo, of the Response modification factor, R.  In ASCE7-05, when there is a vertical combination of different R-values, the Cd, and Ωo cannot decrease as you go down each level of a building. In ASCE7-10 (12.2.3.1), the Cd and Ωo always correspond to the R-Value as you go down. The adjacent figure illustrates the new provision to use the corresponding Cd, and Ωo with the R-value at each level.

ASCE7-10 (12.3.4.1) added a clarification for out-of-plane anchorage forces where the redundancy factor, p = 1.0.  The intent of the redundancy factor was to ensure the vertical seismic-resisting system with insufficient redundancy had adequate strength. The design forces for out-of-plane wall loading are not redundancy requirements. ASCE7-10 (12.11.12) revised the out-of-plane wall anchorage force equation where the anchorage forces are reduced for shorter diaphragm spans.

Seis-pic 3Light-frame construction structures are no longer exempt from amplification of accidental torsion in ASCE7-10 (12.8.4.3).  There are many structures vulnerable to torsional effects including some “tuck under” parking buildings that are often light-frame structures. See posts  titled Soft-Story Retrofits and City of San Francisco Implements Soft-Story Retrofit Ordinance for more discussion of soft-story, light-frame buildings.

This is just a brief summary of changes related to seismic design found in the 2012 IBC.  What are other changes that will modify your approach to seismic design?

Educated in a FLASH, Part 2

This week’s blog was written by Branch Engineer Randy Shackelford, P.E., who has been an engineer for the Simpson Strong-Tie Southeast Region since 1994. He is an active member of several influential committees, including the AISI Committee on Framing Standards, the American Wood Council Wood Design Standards Committee, and the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes Technical Advisory Committee. He is vice-president and member of the Board of Directors of the National Storm Shelter Association. Randy has been a guest speaker at numerous outside seminars and workshops as a connector and high wind expert. Here is Randy’s post:

In my last blog post, I gave an overview of FLASH, the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, and how Simpson Strong-Tie partners with them. Last November, FLASH held their Annual Conference.  The theme of this past meeting was “15 Years of Stronger Homes and Safer Families,” and it was one of their best conferences yet.

CDC Campaign On Preparing for a Zombie Apocalypse

CDC Campaign On Preparing for a Zombie Apocalypse

CDC Zombie Campaign for Emergency Preparedness

CDC Zombie Campaign for Emergency Preparedness

One of the highlights of the conference was a viewing of the Center for Disease Control’s unique Zombie Apocalypse campaign.  The idea is that preparing for disaster is very much like preparing for a zombie attack.  While it was fun, it was also educational because it tied into FLASH’s mitigation methods too.

A very interesting panel on the first day of the conference dealt with how members of each generation handle things differently.  A panel of Baby Boomers and Millennials (Generation Y) highlighted the fact that different generations had different ways of doing the same thing.

See the link below for an interesting summary of Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y:

Generations Overview copy

One highlight of the first afternoon of the conference was the RenaissanceRe Challenge.  The challenge involved two teams of university students who had a chance to present their idea for projects to help Florida citizens confront wind events. The winning team of the challenge would receive a $20,000 scholarship.  The team from Florida International University presented their idea for “Aerodynamic Intelligent Mitigation.”  This consisted of a retrofittable element that is placed around the edges of a roof that has been proven to reduce uplift forces on the roof.  Meanwhile, the team from the University of Florida, the Miti-Gators, countered with their idea for a cell phone “app” that would evaluate the wind resistance of a house.  The idea would be that any prospective homebuyer could evaluate a home they were considering purchasing to see how wind resistant it would be compared to other homes.  This is important because in Florida, 70% of homes were built before the Florida Building Code was adopted.  In the end, the Miti-Gators won the scholarship.

Being a building-code nerd, the definite highlight of the second day was the panel discussion about building codes. Here are some of my favorite key takeaways:

Codes:

  • The building code is the first opportunity to ensure that buildings are built properly.  Mitigation is the second opportunity.
  • Legislators need to mandate adoption, consumers need to demand use, enforcers need to ask for adequate funding, and builders need to understand.
  • So little attention is given to building departments and enforcers, more attention is given to the fire department and local police.
  • Building codes originated due to disasters.  We need to change the purpose of codes from safety to resiliency.  We need to worry about what will happen to the building stock for years to come, not just the first cost today.
  • The insurance industry has found that where codes are scientifically sound, consistently enforced, and implemented across communities, the return in investment in building codes is large.
  • Building codes are one of the cornerstones of effective mitigation.  There are not many other places where you can make a change that will have an effect in perpetuity.
  • Building codes are an expression of society.
  • Building code adoption is the battle between making buildings safe and the increased costs to the builder and developer.  The builder does not get the long-term benefits that the owner does.

Politics:

  • The 800 pound gorilla is public policy:  The risks people face are being masked by pandering politicians.  Public policy interferes with the message that people need to understand their risk.  The way to help people understand their risk is through the marketplace setting rates for insurance.
  • A distorted market deprives consumers of proper pricing signals that can encourage dangerous behavior.

Preparedness:

  • Preparedness will not become a part of society until it is profitable
  • The difference between natural hazards and natural disasters is that nature causes the hazard, and human behavior causes the disasters.
  • Education of the public is the answer.  Owners must be taught to overcome the thought that “This natural disaster MIGHT happen, but I know that if I spend the money to prepare now it WILL cost me, so I’ll take the risk.”
  • People need to understand that “Disasters don’t just happen to the other guy.”

Finally, in the conclusion, “Building codes work; they save lives; stay the course; we’re making a difference.”

I couldn’t have said it better my self.

Code Reports: Uniform Application of Code Intent in a Diverse Environment

Woodworks invited me to do a presentation on Testing and Evaluation of Products for Wood-framed Construction, and I found you can’t really talk about testing without talking about the test standards and criteria used in product evaluations. Usually the goal in testing to these standards is to show compliance with the intent of the building code and have the product listed in a code report.

Why not just follow the code?

Innovative architectural and structural building products not addressed by the building code are in every building. Revisions to the building code are considered on a three-year cycle and some standards are on a five-year cycle. Sometimes it may take several cycles to address a new building product.

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