Sticking to the Codes


Who here strictly adhered to the provisions of the code, who bends them, and who considers them inadequate for a situation. If you please, elaborate on the whys of your logic too. Thanks for your input in advance


I generally use the code as the minimum, and occasionally go beyond. Often items are not covered by the code and I use other codes as a guideline.

I’ve not had anything fall down yet or any significant issues in 50 years; I don’t plan to change.



My experience is similar to Dik’s. Use as minimum and go from there.
I get frustrated by the ambiguity and variable interpretations. They should leave code writing to the technical guys and get the politics out of it.

Haven’t had anything fall down yet either. I don’t deal with seismic very often…just wind!


I used to, and to a lesser extent now, understand the reason for the inclusion in the codes. This was my ‘guiding light’. There are so many issues, today, that it’s difficult to keep track… The economy of construction has only marginally improved… it’s the system chosen and not a ‘tight design’ that mainly determines cost… I’ve known that for 50 years.

I think most changes to the code are for ‘selling’ codes and not for improvements in engineering. Code bodies have developed a government model and not an engineering one.



I think most changes to the code are for ‘selling’ codes and not for improvements in engineering. Code bodies have developed a government model and not an engineering one. Dik

This must be the single most frustrating thing.

I do at times find prescriptively following the code impractical. As a specific example, in canadian code, we are required to have 4 anchor bolt for any baseplate, even if there are no bending or uplift on the bolt. My understanding is that this is done to ensure stability even during construction

This becomes rather a problem when i comes to corner columns on foundation walls, where trying to fit 4 anchor bolts for the sake of following the bolt is rather impactical and sometimes unsafe for a L-shaped baseplate (edge distance). People in my office have all sorts of ways to creatively work around this, but I find this rather silly.

Hopefully I am not highjacking the thread, but what’s everyone’s general approach when running into prescriptive parts of the code that are not practical?


You’re not hijacking the thread… don’t worry, if someone’s upset, they will let you know.

The anchor rod requirement is a copy of the OSHA requirement, in case you’re curious… trying to solve a problem that’s not there. Used to be that the contractor was responsible for the means and methods of construction.



I could be wrong, but isn’t the 4 anchor requirement in the US an OSHA requirement (Not AISC). The exception given by OSHA is if it is a “post” not a “column” one can use less than 4 anchors.

Column means a load-carrying vertical member that is part of the primary skeletal framing system. Columns do not include posts.
Post means a structural member with a longitudinal axis that is essentially vertical, that: (1) weighs 300 pounds or less and is axially loaded (a load presses down on the top end), or (2) is not axially loaded, but is laterally restrained by the above member. Posts typically support stair landings, wall framing, mezzanines and other substructures."

Either way, I agree it is a silly requirement at certain times. I have seen it ignored based on “engineering judgment” in the past.

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Edited answer and you are correct, sir.



There’s a bit of an out…

From the current CSA S-16, “Columns shall be fitted with at least four anchor rods. When four non-collinear anchor rods for erection safety are not feasible, special precautions shall be taken.”

Just added:
I’ve just modified my Project Notes to include that the Contractor shall take ‘special precautions’ to maintain column stability during erection.

This takes advantage of the exclusion clause.



I’ve thought about Mike’s question since it was posted and what, if anything to say. For our generating stations the big issue is that live loads are a real wild card. We (owner) together with our consultant establish the overall criteria for a station based on the type info contained in ASCE 7… importance category, wind, seismic, etc. Also outline general codes to follow, such as ACI for concrete or AISC (specifically ASD in the 1990’s) for structural steel.

Beyond that, most requirements are based on our long-term (decades) experience at plants. This would be some result in some that are unusual… leaving our consultants scratching their heads. Some examples:

  1. In operating area, slope all slabs on grade at least 2% for drainage to built-in trenches, etc. (Operations hates walking in standing water… no complaints about walking on sloped floors).
    Also heavy concentrated load requirement for slabs on grade (may need to put the outrigger for a truck crane on a slab for some unexpected future reason).

  2. All structural steel to be weldable (allow for future modifications). Also, (in the 1990’s) ASTM A-36 steel only (for future modifications, no question about grade of steel used).

  3. For elevated steel grating, a single heavy uniform live load requirement, even if ASCE suggests a lower value. Also, a heavy concentrated load requirement and no serrated grating. (to allow easier rolling of heavily loaded wheeled maintenance carts without leaving “furrows” in the grating where wheels bent the bearing bars).

Overall, this work was normally way outside the intent of building codes… we just ignored them, with concurrence of building officials.


Concur will all, except, max slope is 1-1/2%… no problems with ‘hollows’ to catch rainwater (or ice). Switch yards, transformer yards, and dead-end structures are some of my favourite.