Each month the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) Arizona North Chapter holds a networking and educational meeting for its membership at wonderful locations throughout the Valley. This month’s co-host was Design Within Reach (DWR) located at The Scottsdale Quarter. DWR’s mission is to make authentic modern design accessible and they certainly did by opening their new flagship store in North Scottsdale to well attended ASID event.
The Valley’s top interior designers, showrooms, and manufacturers, serving both the residential and commercial design markets, not only enjoyed the hospitality of DWR but appreciated the opportunity to network as well as receive educational enlightenment. Architectural pros led us through a very informative as well as entertaining evening as we reviewed “Codes Gone Wrong.”
In a combined effort to protect the public from faulty construction projects, local building codes, city codes, and local ordinances are drafted and implemented according to the local laws of the country, state, or city as well as those associated with the type of project. With all these regulatory hoops, we assume things will run smoothly.
But some of the times, they just don’t.
Codes don’t always make sense.
A hotel made entirely of ice is required and forced to install fire alarms. The owner complied because “there are things that can actually catch fire, like pillows, sleeping bags, or reindeer skins. To us the most important concern is the safety of our clients, so we will comply.”
Because of frequent and severe earthquakes in Japan, local building codes require that Japanese houses be rebuilt rather than be renovated. There are “four times as many architects in Japan as in the U.S. and more than twice as many construction workers, ” according to Greg Rosalsky, the Freakonomics author. This disposable “housing boom” of tearing down and rebuilding results in some very creative and temporary architecture. You might think this is good for the design-build community, and it is, with one of the highest new home builds. However, it is not favorable to the homeowner looking to gain a little equity in their investment.
They are also insensitive to cultural differences. An Amish family was evicted from their home and fined $42,000 for not installing a smoke alarm. Smoke alarms are no longer simply battery operated but require electricity in order to be hard-wired into homes.
Codes conflict with common sense.
California is a leader in Green Building Codes and the use of alternative energy. As it turns out the money saved by homeowners from the reduction in the cost of energy encourages California residents to consume more energy because it is so much less expensive.
Whose responsibility is it-sense.
As much as codes are meant to protect the public, they cannot protect you from human error. Different trades come in at different times to do their work. Understandably conflicts can arise. But this is a prime example of why on-site management is a must. I don’t know, call me crazy, but after you put the first door up didn’t something seem odd? On the right, let’s just say … be prepared.
Clearly, a GFI switch won’t be enough in this installation. Now I know what you are thinking. How could anyone be so clueless as to do this? As the saying goes, time is money. I am sure in the instance on the left, neither the electrician nor the plumber wanted to take the responsibility to correct what was a glaring issue since there typically isn’t a “fix the designer’s mistake” clause in the contract that allows them to charge for additional time spent. There are some basic design issues with the image on the right but I’m not quite sure where to begin to lay the blame, somewhere between the blueprints and the plumber would be a good guess.
One of the critical factors for project success is having a well-developed project plan that includes solid architectural drawings before anyone picks up a hammer. And that plan includes material selections that are not only befitting the space but that take appropriateness and safety to mind. These images are a fine example of why. I can kind of see the steps on the left, but the tread lines are so disguised on the right, it looks like a sled run.
Ingress and egress is specially important when it comes to ADA requirements. I know, these images are really hard to look at. At least they put a potted plant at the end of the run on the right to slow down speed before hitting what appears to be a very solid wall.
Thanks for this humorous (or maybe not so humorous) stroll down an interesting selection of Codes Gone Wrong. To view our photo gallery from the event, click here to head over to our Facebook page!
Have you experienced unexpected conflicts with codes or confusing workmanship on your design project? Share your experiences with us in the comments.