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Seems to me that these folks can really make your life difficult or great. Any input or secrets to getting them to see it your way? I would imagine simple things like, common courtesy, goes a long way. I would be interested to hear your stories from the field.
Step being clever. Seriously.
yup. being courteous helps (moreso if you work with the reviewer often so they know you), but the first step is to understand the code and design to it. I've changed the mind of the reviewer several times by simply quoting the code book, but ultimately they're the AHJ. You just kind of have to do what they say, even if sometimes they're wrong.
Pretty simple. Design to code. Have clear, consistent drawings.
If you are talking site plan review, read the zoning ordinance. The whole thing, not just the parts you care about. Yes, most city's have some form of design guidelines. Know them. Obey them. Design to them.
Schedule a "pre-review"...I have done this many times...it helps them gain a sense of participation earlier on. Have knowledge of the project, know your stuff, show appreciation, dont give them a sense of superiority, either theirs or yours...make your drawings so tight, they squeek!!
the big challenge is when there is interpretive room. i just came through a review incident this week in which our understanding of the code differed somewhat from the authority looking at it. our original reviewer had seen it our way, the building is under construction, but a re-review (triggered by a question) unearthed some issues. key was that both i and the reviewer kept it conversational, we both respect each other and know that the other is knowledgeable, and we led each other to the passages of code that gave us the interpretations we supported.
this could have been disastrous for me. his original interpretation would have required huge changes - changes that i don't even know how we would have pulled off given where the building is in construction. in the end, with a few minor design changes - easy to achieve - i was able to make our interpretation make sense to him.
neither of us ever closed the door to further discussion and both of us had room to move (even if only a little).
a code review is NOT the time to stop thinking about design. if there is an issue, be familiar enough with the relevant passages of code to design your way out of it. a really smart design solution can be a win for both parties. sometimes the result won't be exactly what you intended, but it will be a lot better than where you might end up if you dig in your heels.
try not to be overly arrogant.
make the reviewer right, but if you do disagree, make sure the reviewer suggests that their superior have the final word. if all else fails go the the states board of code review and appeal the decision - with an attorney who is familiar with code issues. that process could take a year depending upon the state you are in.
site plans are mostly up to revision when the town/city reviewers have their way. the best way to avoid confusion is to have a pre review with the planning department and suggest any and all alternative methods you/client have in mind prior to formal study. i my neck of the woods the adjoining governing agencies have a built in control valve that will determine where your plan may go. for example: again, in my neck of the woods, the health department guidelines and standards are one determining factor that will take up space and compromise your clients project......
remember dark sky! people are sick and tired of massive lights streaming from sites. keep lighting low and respective of safety. planners sometimes forget safety as it reflects lighting. (no pun intended)
building codes are in place for the publics life, health, safety, and welfare. we architects need to respect it and live with it. depending upon your specific municipality, there may be exceptions listed, alternate avenues within the code framework, or a reviewer with your like mind willing to expand the interpretation to meet the needs of the design.
most importantly!!!! we architects are the ones who decide upon the occupants, users, and inhabitants life, health, safety, and welfare and are held to that cannon - by law.
Read the building codes that they enforce and actually use it in your design. I know that is hard to understand for a lot of architects because they feel they have 5, 6 or 7 years of higher education. Meaning, that architects feel that they know how to design and/or build something correctly, without having to rely on silly things like building codes. I think it is an ego thing. That or a they learned it that way 10, 15 or 20 years ago thing so why change now thing. Either way, if you know the codes and implement them in your construction documents, you won't/shoudn't have a problem. Then when you get that rogue inspector or plan reviewer, you can cite the exact section of building code which allows you to do whatever it is you said you were doing.
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