New Building Code Being Developed


The Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) and the Jamaican Institution of Engineers (JIE) are working together to adopt the International Building Code (IBC) as a base document for Jamaica’s building code, to upgrade the current code and bring it in line with new technological developments.
Speaking at last Friday’s (Oct. 8) meeting of parish council authorities at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston, Consultant with JIE, Roosevelt DaCosta explained that guided by the IBC an appropriate application document would be developed, incorporating special construction practices that were peculiar to Jamaica.
Arguing for the use of the IBC as a template, the Consultant said the IBC covered construction designs that resisted all natural disasters, which may affect the island. He pointed out that it facilitated harmonization of standards within the region. In addition Mr. DaCosta said adopting the IBC would solve the problem of updating, improve the quality of the physical infrastructure, and make the best returns from limited resources.
He said it was hoped that the review and drafting process for the application document would be completed by July 2005, and that the Act and by- laws for the parish councils be promulgated by December 2005.
Forty per cent of the $18 million to develop the document has already been identified, working committees have been established, the Bureau of Standards has granted its approval, and the International Codes Council (ICC) is facilitating the process.
The JIE Consultant informed that there were ongoing discussions with the University of Technology to work with the ICC and JIE to implement courses to enable architects and engineers to make their designs according to the code, as well as to allow parish council officials to be able to make relevant evaluations under the code. “They will also have to be specially trained and certified to the ICC system,” he pointed out.
Continuing, he noted that the new code would require a new compliance system, as “the system presently used by all parish councils is not compatible with the code.” Furthermore he said, under the new code, design evaluation would have to involve the architectural, structural, mechanical, energy efficiency and electrical aspects of each building project.
He told the meeting that the updated code that had been published in 1983 was a policy code and was not legally enforceable. He explained that the 19 year-old Caribbean Uniform Building Code (CUBC) while acknowledged and used by some countries was still not a legal document. Mr. DaCosta noted that building codes must be updated regularly to include new technological developments as well as new information following a disaster. Furthermore he said, building codes offered some legal protection for designing engineers and architects as they set standards for design against which claims for negligence could be evaluated.
Building codes address the provisions that must be observed in the design, construction and maintenance of buildings. They also serve to ensure that persons are protected in disasters, and that physical damage is limited and structures critical to civil protection remain operational. They provide the first line of defense against natural hazards and help ensure public safety.
Mr. DaCosta also used the opportunity to encourage parish council officials to participate in the code development process and participate fully in the review of the proposed compliance system.

JIS Social