Speaking in Code – Structural Steel Special Inspections, One Chapter to Rule Them All

Architects, engineers, contractors, special inspectors, and building officials will remember the special inspection tables for structural steel in previous IBC code cycles dating all the way back to the BOCA code days of the early 1990s. Contained in those tables were seemingly endless lists of codes and standards from across the regulatory spectrum that related to structural steel. As a result, these professionals were required to mark all of the codes and standards that related to their project and then research other codes and documents to determine which “rules” actually trumped which other “rules” when they disagreed with one another. It was difficult and time consuming work that desperately needed to be simplified…

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to IBC 2012. The new code has removed those steel inspection tables from Chapter 17 and embraced AISC 360-10. Specifically, the new special inspection verbiage in IBC 2012, Chapter 17 states:

1705.2.1 Structural Steel. Special inspection for structural steel shall be in accordance with the quality assurance inspection requirements of AISC 360.”

It is important to note that Chapter 35 of IBC 2012 cites AISC 360-10 as the referenced code, and adopts AISC standards by reference. What does this mean? In short, it means that design and (to a large degree) structural steel special inspection requirements are finally in one place, thus minimizing the gaps, overlaps, and conflicts of the past.

The special inspection requirement process has become further streamlined by the fact that AISC 360-10 created a new “Chapter N, Quality Control and Quality Assurance“. This detailed, 30 page Chapter N now replaces the single page that constituted section M5 of AISC 360-05. Furthermore, this new Chapter N now includes seven tables that present steel special inspection requirements in a single place.

Further helping our collective understanding of the requirements is the fact that the welding inspection tasks listed in Tables N5.4-1 thru N5.4-3 (inspection items previously contained exclusively in AWS D1.1) have been organized in the tables using the straightforward and easy to understand categories of Before Welding, During Welding, and After Welding.

Similarly, the bolting inspection tasks listed in Tables N5.6-1 thru N5.6-3, heretofore contained in the Research Council and Structural Connections (RCSC) specification and other places have been organized in the tables using the categories of Before Bolting, During Bolting, and After Bolting.

Finally, we have one place to go in order to find out what steel special inspections are required! This significant development will help to ensure that inspection professionals have rapid access to all of the information they need to help the construction industry move forward with their structural steel projects.

If you have any questions about the elements of the code discussed in this edition of Speaking in Code, or any other code-related question, please feel free to contact Alan Tuck, F&R’s Executive Director for Code Compliance and Training.