A review of code requirements governing stairs and ramps in the USA

The United States of America has a population of over 250 million, has a land mass twice the size of Europe and is divided into 50 separate states, each of which jealously guards its right to establish its own laws. It can therefore be hardly surprising that, throughout the country, a great number of different building codes are in force.

The larger cities all impose their own codes which, being written by lawyers, are provided with enough built-in contradictions to keep their framers in business. The New York City code, for example, is so opaque and so resistant to rational interpretation that a new type of professional has been created to deal with it; part architect, part engineer, part lawyer known as an 'expediter'. For a hefty fee the expediter shepherds the architect's drawings through the arcane workings of the borough building departments, surfacing from time to time with necessary pieces of documentation; emerging finally with the certificate of occupancy in hand.

Most smaller towns and cities, however, have found it expedient to adopt one of the two National Codes that have now been widely used for many years, both of which provide a consulting and inspection service. These codes are:

• The Uniform Building Codes.

First enacted by the International Conference of Building Officials in Phoenix, Arizona in 1927. Their present headquarters are in Whittier, California.

• The BOCA National Building Code. Published by the Building Officials and Code Administrators International, Inc. (BOCA), first enacted in 1950. Their present headquarters are in Chicago, Illinois, with regional offices in Columbus, Ohio, Tulsa, Oklahoma and Trevose, Pennsylvania.

In very broad terms it can be said that the Uniform Building Code is favoured west of the Mississippi River, the BOCA National Building Code to its east.

For the purpose of this review the BOCA code will be discussed, with comments on the UBC in those areas where there is a significant divergence from BOCA. The summaries are based largely upon stair requirements for commercial buildings.

0 0

Post a comment