Revised Barbados Building Code leaves structural engineer “shocked, saddened”

In my opinion, the proposed ‘Revised’ code cannot be understood by most builders and homeowners – it appears to be designed to be understood only by designers.”

Revised Building Code likely to increase homeowner costs by 15%

by Grenville Phillips II
June 8, 2012

Yesterday, I attended a seminar hosted by the BNSI and BCSI titled “The Revised National Building Code”. I left the seminar feeling shocked and saddened. The current building code is designed to be understood by building contractors to allow them to build a fairly stable house. Many homeowners should also be able to understand it in order to check that their builder is following this national standard.

In my opinion, the proposed ‘Revised’ code cannot be understood by most builders and homeowners – it appears to be designed to be understood only by designers. Certainly, only structural engineers can understand the Structural section of the “Revised” code, while most builders should be able to understand the structural section in the current code.

In addition, the homeowner will have to provide detailed construction drawings for Government approval. This is likely to increase the cost to the homeowner by approximately 15%. This additional cost is not due to additional construction materials, but the cost of paying designers to prepare the detailed designs.

The current building code contains most of the technical information normally provided by designers (Engineers and Architects). What is so disheartening is that all of this useful information that can be understood by building contractors and many homeowners has been removed.

For the past 2 decades, designers have endured the entirely false charge that the enforcement of national building standards will financially benefit them. What is certain is that if the proposed ‘Revised’ building code is enforced, then the designers will be the principal financial beneficiaries. I am unaware of any designer who has lobbied for this ‘Revised’ code.

Grenville Phillips II is a son, brother, husband, father, friend, employer, teacher, musician, singer, composer, author, and publisher. He holds a diploma in Engineering, Bachelor of Science (Mathematics), Bachelor of Engineering (Structural), Master of Applied Science (Environmental Engineering), Master of Urban and Rural Planning. Chartered Structural Engineer (Fellow), Chartered Highway and Transportation Engineer (Fellow), Environmental Engineer, Project Manager, Planner, and President of Walbrent College.

In his spare time he writes the respected blog Weighed in the Balance

Further Reading

Meanwhile, Jonathan Platt of the Barbados National Standards Institution (BNSI), has issued a press release telling all how wonderful the new building code is – but lamenting that it is “voluntary” because the DLP and BLP governments haven’t bothered to pass legislation making adherence to the code mandatory. I think we’ve all heard that song before…

Barbados: Building Code on its Way to Being Published

Bridgetown – June 8, 2012 – Tragedies such as the collapse at Arch Cot in 2007 and the Campus Trendz fire in 2010, were offered as examples of calamities which need not recur, should the Revised National Building Code be put into practice.

Speaking this morning at the National Awareness Seminar on the Code at the Warrens Office Complex, Technical Officer with the Barbados National Standards Institution (BNSI), Jonathan Platt, explained that the amendments covered a gamut of issues. He highlighted Part Five of the Code – Structural Requirements – design and installation of main types of foundation; and Part 4, Means of Escape from Fire – Facilities for Firefighting and Fire Alarm Systems, as clauses which were applicable to the national tragedies.

Mr. Platt said that “the 1993 edition of the Building Code had six parts. It is now proposed that we have 18 parts…,” with areas such as Resistance to Transmission of Sound; Ventilation of Buildings; Fitness of Materials and Workmanship; and Thermal Insulation and Energy Efficiency, addressed in the document.

He also noted that “The draft [Code] was done some time ago…It’s just a matter of [completing] the last stage, which is [getting] approval from our technical committee,” with the hope that the Code would be published by the end of this year.

The Technical Officer emphasised that the BNSI was merely the author of the Code, while the Building Standards Authority (BSA) would be the agency responsible for enforcing it. However, Mr. Platt explained that while the BSA currently facilitates the Town and Country Planning Development Office with issues related to fire and means of escape from buildings, the organisation still required legislation to fulfil its mandate.

“We’re urgently seeking for the legislation to be put in place so we would not have the scenario of [regret]…The Building Code will be published, as a voluntary document … [We need] the professionals to do their due diligence and ensure that they comply even though it is a voluntary document at present.”  This, he said, would not only ensure the integrity of the building and the safety of its occupants, but would also allow stakeholders to become familiar with the revised Code, which will become mandatory when the Building Act, which is pending, is finalised.

In response to audience queries, Mr. Platt gave the assurance that the Revised National Building Code was a living document.

He said: “The Building Code is not static, we are still moving forward… [if you think] ‘this can’t work, this doesn’t make sense’, I would like to hear from you…Find that particular part of the document that you’re having some concerns with…[and] tell me what your proposals are,” he suggested, adding that amendments could be made and the Code could be shaped to meet new requirements.

He also reiterated the need for the Code to be embraced, stating “…we seem to be untouched, but the day may come when we could be saying ‘why didn’t we put this in place?'”.

Original online press release here

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3 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Building Collapse

3 responses to “Revised Barbados Building Code leaves structural engineer “shocked, saddened”

  1. St George's Dragon

    He said: “The Building Code is not static, we are still moving forward… [if you think] ‘this can’t work, this doesn’t make sense’, I would like to hear from you…Find that particular part of the document that you’re having some concerns with…[and] tell me what your proposals are,”
    ————————————————————
    Where can we see the proposal on-line so we can comment? I can’t find anything except an abridged fairly useless summary on the BNSI website. have I missed it?

  2. Sunshine Sunny Shine

    I am all for a comprehensive change in the way we design homes hence I embrace the building code. What I am not in agreement with is a code that cannot be understood. The codes language should be simple and concise because the climate of fraud in Barbados is so high that crooked building contractors and designers might just captilized on it. And do not tell me that there are no frauds and crooks in this area of work because they are cadre of them.

  3. PLANTATION DEEDS FROM 1926 UP TODAY A ND SEE MASSIVE FRAUD ,

    They all look for ways to give each other money and waste time..
    Now all will act like lawyers, You have to come to me and pay me for anything to make money ,,, So i can charge you,