Building Officials Explore BCSI with CM's Help
On April 4th, Mike Karceski, president of Atlas Components, Inc. in Cherry Valley, Illinois, gave an SBCA presentation to building officials and building inspectors in the city of Danville, Illinois. The meeting was initiated by the Illinois Association of Code Enforcement (IACE), a chapter of the International Code Council (ICC), as they sought to provide education for their membership about componentized framing methods.
IACE contacted SBCA and asked if any members might be willing to present at an IACE quarterly meeting, so SBCA reached out to Mike, who was glad for the opportunity to talk to code officials about issues that are important to truss manufacturers.
“What motivated me to do it was the disconnect between our ability to design and build a job and [see] it installed correctly,” says Mike. “We have to depend on the building inspectors as part of the process to see that our installations are going correctly.” Since CMs are not able to directly control the installation process and must rely on building inspectors for final approval of their product, Mike sees value in making sure they have a firm grasp on the correct way to install and brace trusses, ensuring consistency and accuracy during the inspection process. “It’s important for them to understand that different truss companies may do things differently,” says Mike. That variation can potentially lead to confusion and unnecessary delay. To avoid this, “I want the building departments to understand…the guidelines,” says Mike.
His presentation focused primarily on permanent bracing. “The Illinois [SBCA] chapter provided a BCSI booklet…for all the participants, and we spent some time going through that,” says Mike. He even brought a visual aid: “I brought my portable cardboard roof truss bracing model with me that I bought from SBCA…you push your finger on a truss and you can see the benefit of the bracing.” He also covered a wide array of other topics such as “reading truss drawings, loadings, on center spacing, etc.” in an attempt to help inspectors better understand “what to look for,” Mike says.
While there was a range of familiarity with the subject matter among the attendees, “as a whole the group was rather knowledgeable,” Mike says. Some participants even owned previous version of BCSI. The reaction to the presentation was “very favorable,” says Mike, and recounts that he received a number of highly specific questions from attendees who “brought up things that they didn’t understand in the BCSI.”
To help educate building code officials and clear up discrepancies in building code interpretation, Mike encourages other SBCA members to give similar presentations. He admits that “it can be challenging” and encourages other members considering it to be sure they “have some experience with building departments” and sufficient knowledge to answer some difficult questions.
“I must say, it’s a really enjoyable experience…I do think, given the opportunity, it’s always a good thing to share how our industry interprets the building codes,” says Mike.
The most effective and beneficial way to highlight the work you do, solve various problems, and let others in your market (like building officials) understand the structural building components industry is to host a plant tour. Plant tours allow you and your company to develop close relationships with key people in the industry from building and fire officials to elected leaders, architects, and students. Contact SBCA staff if you would like help planning your plant tour.