Do Building codes really SUCK?

31 Jan

There are those who will tell you that in order to insure that minimum standards of construction are maintained… in order to insure the health and safety of the general public… we need building codes.

Does this mean that building codes are simply guidelines assuring “safe construction practices” are upheld?

No. It’s far more political than that. Here’s how it works;

States have adopted what is commonly referred to as “Universal Building Code” standards.

But, there isn’t anything “universal” about them. You see… we don’t live in a “universal” world where one size fits all.

I mean, have you BEEN to Alabama? 😉

The realities are that as you change locations, you change the requirements for housing. There are different needs for different regions of the country. These differing requirements need to be addressed locally. What we don’t need is to be forced to build a “one size fits all” dwelling that neither meets location or need.

Any thoughts to the contrary are absurd.

They will tell you that you need a government bureaucracy to tell you that you must live, in the manner they deem acceptable,  because THEY know better.

In their eyes (because you are seen as simply stupid, incompetent children) you don’t get to make the choice for yourself.

The fact is that politicians and planning officials line their pockets using ridiculous rules and regulations. This process is as old as the history of building. Remember Egypt? The first architects were priests and they had complete control over all building – period.

You didn’t argue. You built what you  were told, or else.

They made the rules and abidance was mandatory, under penalty of death.

Obamacare is a good example of the carnage that results. Unfortunately, once “rules” are accepted as common practice, once something becomes law it’s nearly impossible to repeal it. Faced with these laws, one seeking another path must make remedy by finding ways to work within/around them to get things done.

It is this mindset that probably prompted Obama to utter the words; “I have a pen and a phone,” as he blatantly threatens to use executive orders to circumvent Congressional Authority.

We live in an era where “money” has more rights than people do. Corporations have voting rights. When you build a house that differs from “the norm”, a home that is perceived to fail to enhance your neighbor’s property values (thus affecting their “money”) your neighbor’s can actually sue you. It should be noted that your neighbors probably won’t have to do that, because the government shares their interests in money (and not yours for personal freedom) because they exist by collecting property taxes… and we all know that bigger, expensive houses, bring in far more tax dollars.

It doesn’t matter that these homes require more energy. It doesn’t matter that these homes waste space and resources. What matters is that they use more material to build, that they require more labor to construct and that they’re capable of generating higher property taxes, thus insuring the health and welfare of… you guessed it… the government.

So, we have laws (building codes) that define things like “minimum size”, and “approved materials” that only feed bureaucracies and banks and administrations.

We the People deserve the “RIGHT” to freedom of shelter choices. This includes the RIGHT to build alternative housing (like ISBU – Shipping Container Housing, for example) , as long as it does not endanger the lives and physical safety of others.

CHB-2

What I AM suggesting is that reorganizing and rebuilding areas to be more compatible with both “Mother Nature and Mankind” can be both cost-effective and a huge boon to the people living there – not just NOW, but for the generations to follow.

By really putting some thought into action… (in the trade we call it “Pre-Design”) not only will they establish more comfortable and sustainable environments, the architects of these new places will rekindle long untended fires – hopefully fueling the desires of our kids, who might just have a shot at home ownership when they reach an age that requires they tend their own created nests…

In my opinion – If we are to be smart about rebuilding homes, cities and provinces, we shouldn’t rush into construction without planning to meet the needs of today as well as considering the needs of tomorrow, by specifics dictated by location and environment, not by “generics” designed to generate income by short-sighted officials claiming dominion via “oversight”…

subdivision

But at least for the time being, if you desire to live in a home of your own crafting, especially one that uses alternative materials and alternative building practices, you may have a long road to hoe, to get from where you are – to where you need to be.

So, to those of you who chide me for paying close attention to political gyrations which craft the envelope we are forced to reside within, I ask you this;

Who says ISBU Homes are not political?

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2 Responses to “Do Building codes really SUCK?”

  1. Tex Arcana February 2, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

    Alex, you know as well as I do that building codes are necessary, mainly to keep people from killing themselves through poor construction methods and sheer corner-cutting. They are also there to keep bulders from building substandard and dangerously unsafe homes and other structures. And you know as well as I do that these builders (and I’m sure there’s a few who are reading this now that agree with your stance against building codes) would cut corners so hard they’ll build something so unsafe that it’ll fall apart in ten minutes.

    The problem, as you rightly point out, is money: as long as the bad builders can bribe code inspectors (and it happens on a DAILY basis), then codes won’t take into account alternative construction methods, and allow them within city limits.

    Truth is, most codes allow for alternative ways of doing things: it’s your job to prove, from an engineering standpoint, that the method is safe and sustainable, in terms of building life. It’s getting past the building inspectors and the head of code enforcement where the politics come into play, and the money becomes a factor.

    It’s not the codes: it’s the corruption.

    Until you weed out the corruption, which comes from greed (for money, of course), you will not have sensible application of building codes.

    But do NOT villify building codes as being the problem, because they’re there to protect us from ourselves. Instead, villify those who would corrupt YOUR GOVERNMENT (Code Enforcement, in this case), for their personal greed.

    It’s YOUR GOVERNMENT. It’s up to you to fix it. Make them work FOR you.

    • Renaissance Ronin February 2, 2014 at 7:12 pm #

      Tex, you need to reread the post.

      I never said that building codes were inherently bad. I said that the use of Universal Building Code (UBC) was politically driven and that the crafters sought a “one size fits all” solution that benefits administrations and tax collectors over families.

      Readers who understood the post got the connection between Universal Building Codes and limitations on “minimum square footage” and the use of “non-conventional materials” (like ISBUs, in fact).

      I was referring to the requirement that “Universal Building Codes” are applied everywhere and fail to take into consideration the location of the structure. UBC demands that all homes be built to the same “lock-step” standards.

      They also dictate “Minimum structure size” allegedly to “protect society as we know it.” “Minimum Square Footage housing standards” simply prohibit the construction of small footprint and “Tiny Homes” in locations where UBC is used as the guideline.

      This eliminated the potential for families to realize financial security by building their own homes, sans mortgage.

      What I actually said was;

      “So, we have laws (building codes) that define things like “minimum size”, and “approved materials” that only feed bureaucracies and banks and administrations.

      The realities are that as you change locations, you change the requirements for housing. There are different needs for different regions of the country. These differing requirements need to be addressed locally. What we don’t need is to be forced to build a “one size fits all” dwelling that neither meets location or need…

      We the People deserve the “RIGHT” to freedom of shelter choices. This includes the RIGHT to build alternative housing (like ISBU – Shipping Container Housing, for example) , as long as it does not endanger the lives and physical safety of others.”

      Where you got your rant about implied sanctioning of “unsafe structures” from that is beyond me.

      Nor did I EVER address “contractor/inspector bribery”. That’s an entirely different post.

      Most of your “argument” pertains to construction practices.

      IF the application of UBC fails to allow you to build a home of a specific size (because it’s deemed “too small”) or because you’re using an “unconventional/unapproved material” (like ISBUs) the rest of your argument is pointless, because you never get permits in the first place. And short of litigation (an expense that most families simply cannot afford to use as “remedy”) there’s nothing to argue because they (planning and zoning authorities) will tell you that “you cannot do that HERE.”

      Post stands.

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