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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Confidence in Code Reports

Every building uses products that are not specifically covered in the building code. IBC Section 104.11 permits this if the “alternative material” is found to comply with the code intent by the building official after review of supporting information, such as research reports and tests.

Reviewing product data might be a challenge for some building departments, as they vary in size and expertise around the country. Some of the questions they might ask are:

1. What, if any, criteria was used to evaluate the product (e.g., test protocol, load rating methodology),

2. Was the criteria developed based on a single individual or a single company’s opinion or was there at least some involvement of others in the construction industry,

3. Are there any potential conflicts of interest in the parties wanting to use the product or the company who evaluated the product, and

4. Are there other tests or analyses that need to be completed prior to accepting the products use in the jurisdiction?

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