Product Approval – Building Code, Administrative Law and P.E. Law

Background

The DrJ Engineering (DrJ) research report process (i.e. product evaluation report, Technical Evaluation Report (TER), etc.) has been prepared in good faith and with the expectation of everyone being treated fairly and transparently under the administrative, code compliance and professional engineering laws of each state that we all must operate within.

This research report has been prepared in conformance with DrJ’s ISO 17065 quality policies and procedures that are also in conformance with all legal requirements referenced in each TER in Section 2.0.

In general, the following definitions are terms of art and legal expectations:

Research reports. Supporting data, where necessary to assist in the approval of materials or assemblies not specifically provided for in this code, shall consist of valid research reports from approved sources [e.g. TER].

Approved source.  An independent person, firm or corporation, approved by the building official, who is competent and experienced in the application of engineering principles to materials, methods or systems analyses [i.e. professional engineer per all professional engineering laws].

Action on a research report or construction documents. The building official shall examine or cause to be examined research reports or construction documents within a reasonable time after filing. If the research report or the construction documents do not conform to the requirements of pertinent laws, the building official shall reject such application in writing, stating the code compliance reasons therefor. If the building official is satisfied that the proposed work conforms to the requirements of the code and laws and ordinances applicable thereto, the building official shall approve the research report or construction documents as soon as practicable.

The seal on this research report indicates acceptance of professional engineering responsibility, under current professional engineering law, for the engineering and building science content depicted herein.

For more detailed state professional engineering and code compliance law references, visit http://drjcertification.org/statelaw.

Product Approval

In general, the model and local codes (e.g., IRC, IBC and IFC Section 104.11) provide for the use of alternative materials, designs and methods of construction by having a legal provision that states something similar to:

104.11 Alternative materials, design and methods of construction and equipment. The provisions of this code are not intended to prevent the installation of any material or to prohibit any design or method of construction not specifically prescribed by this code, provided that any such alternative has been approved. An alternative material, design or method of construction shall be approved where the building official finds that the proposed design is satisfactory and complies with the intent of the provisions of this code, and that the material, method or work offered is, for the purpose intended, at least the equivalent of that prescribed in this code. … Where the alternative material, design or method of construction is not approved, the building official shall respond in writing, stating the reasons the alternative was not approved.
[The last sentence is adopted language in the 2015 codes.]
 

Value of a Competitive Marketplace

DrJ’s goal is to help all companies and all products fully embrace the uniquely American concept of preserving “free and unfettered competition as the rule of trade,” which is also U.S. law.

Congress passed the first antitrust law, the Sherman Act, in 1890 as a "comprehensive charter of economic liberty aimed at preserving free and unfettered competition as the rule of trade." In 1914, Congress passed two additional antitrust laws: the Federal Trade Commission Act, which created the FTC, and the Clayton Act. With some revisions, these are the three core federal antitrust laws still in effect today.

… Yet for over 100 years, the antitrust laws have had the same basic objective: to protect the process of competition for the benefit of consumers, making sure there are strong incentives for businesses to operate efficiently, keep prices down, and keep quality up. …

The penalties for violating the Sherman Act can be severe. Although most enforcement actions are civil, the Sherman Act is also a criminal law, and individuals and businesses that violate it may be prosecuted by the Department of Justice.
http://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/competition-guidance/guide-antitrust-laws/antitrust-laws

Legal Validity of a TER

This TER is a code-defined (e.g., IRC, IBC and IFC Section
104.11.1 and IBC Section 1703.4.2) “research report” that provides supporting data to assist in the approval of materials, designs or assemblies not specifically provided for in this code.

1703.4.2 Research reports.
Supporting data, where necessary to assist in the approval of materials or assemblies not specifically provided for in this code, shall consist of valid research reports from approved sources.

[A] 104.11.1 Research reports.
Supporting data, where necessary to assist in the approval of materials or assemblies not specifically provided for in this code, shall consist of valid research reports from approved sources.

[A] 104.11.2 Tests.
Whenever there is insufficient evidence of compliance with the provisions of this code, or evidence that a material or method does not conform to the requirements of this code, or in order to substantiate claims for alternative materials or methods, the building official shall have the authority to require tests as evidence of compliance to be made at no expense to the jurisdiction. Test methods shall be as specified in this code or by other recognized test standards. In the absence of recognized and accepted test methods, the building official shall approve the testing procedures. Tests shall be performed by an approved agency. Reports of such tests shall be retained by the building official for the period required for retention of public records.
 

Therefore, this research report is prepared by a professional engineering company that complies with the code definition of “approved source” and all related professional engineering roles and responsibilities.

It is our understanding that:

  1. All regulators want to assure that the proper product with the proper capacity is used via the proper installation techniques. Most litigation stems from poor installation performance, so all of us on this end of the supply chain appreciate installers who have attention to detail, and building inspectors who help everyone meet the code requirements accurately.
  2. All companies want transparent and fair treatment. DrJ is available 7 days a week at 608-217-3713 to provide the engineering support needed to ensure TER questions can be answered quickly.
  3. DrJ wants your feedback, so we make our work the best it can be for both installers and building officials. We will make improvements to any of our documents within 5 business days and re-publish with the latest and best information available.

Thank you very much for reviewing this information. We look forward to your teaming up with us to move innovation and new product use in all built construction forward as responsibly as we collectively can.
 

 

Engineering Services

DrJ provides engineering and related services specializing in light-frame construction.

Structural engineering services are not currently offered in Illinois.

Product Certification

DrJ is an ISO/IEC 17065 accredited product certification body through ANSI Accreditation Services. 

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