2018 International Building Code Items of Note

By Kelly Cobeen, SEAOC Past President

While California engineers have been busy adapting to the newly enforced 2016 California Building Code, based on the 2015 International Building Code (IBC), the code development community has been putting final touches on the 2018 IBC. Following are items of interest related to the 2018 IBC.

In early November 2016, SEAOC reached out to its members regarding an International Code Council (ICC) Governmental Online Vote, which was the last step in the code change process for the 2018 IBC. Of particular concern was an active lobby against adoption of the 2016 Edition of ASCE 7 (Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures) into the IBC and International Residential Code (IRC). If successful, this would have stopped the adoption of the most current loading criteria for gravity, seismic, wind, snow, flood and tsunami, and reverted back to ASCE 7-10. See archived SEAOC Talk Articles for more information: Public Comment on Adoption of ASCE 7-16 into the 2018 IBC and ASCE 7-16 Passes ICC Floor Vote; Adoption Moves On to November Ballot. We are pleased to report that, with one minor exception, the code changes that were flagged to be of concern were approved in the online vote, and so will be incorporated into the 2018 IBC. As a result, progress made over five years by the ASCE 7 committees will be implemented. The one item that was not approved related to the duplication of design load combinations in IBC and ASCE 7, and was more editorial than technical. Overall, the vote went extremely well, and we appreciate those of you that were able to assist with this outcome. These changes will be published in the 2018 IBC, which will likely be available in print in late 2017 or early 2018.

Also of note are a group of code changes adopted into the 2018 IBC that react to recent failures in exterior exposed elements (balconies, stairs, etc.). The American Wood Council, in particular, submitted a number of code changes and the following were approved for the 2018 IBC, with coordinating changes in the IEBC. SEAOC member David Bonowitz assisted with clarifying amendments to the IEBC changes.

  • Sec. 107.2.5 - Requires inclusion in construction documents of details of the moisture barrier system where structural framing in exterior balconies and other elevated walking surfaces exposed to water is protected by an impervious moisture barrier.
  • Sec. 110.3.6 - Requires inspection of the impervious moisture barrier, but permits the building official to instead require special inspection.
  • Sec. 1503.7 - Requires cross-ventilation for enclosed structural framing protected by an impervious moisture barrier.
  • Table 1607.1 - Minimum live loads for balconies and decks are increased from being the same as the occupancy served, to 1.5 times the load for the occupancy served, but need not exceed 100 psf.
  • Sec. 2304.12.2.5 - Requires that impervious moisture barrier systems protecting framing allow for positive drainage of water that permeates moisture-permeable floor toppings (i.e. concrete topping slabs or similar).

These changes will be published in the 2018 IBC, which will likely be available in print in late 2017 or early 2018. In addition, regulations based on these changes are being considered for emergency adoption by the California Building Standards Commission in late January, 2017. As a result it is possible that these or similar requirements will become mandatory in California shortly.

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