Location: Seattle Metro Area
Size: 37.5 square miles
Every three years, the City of Bellevue, WA had the tedious and time-consuming task of inserting local amendments into the Washington State codes provided by the International Code Council (ICC). These changes to the State and local codes must then be added to ICC’s International Building Codes, also known as “I-Codes.” Over the course of several code change cycles, more State and local amendments have been added, making the process of adding the amendments into the State’s amended codes cumbersome and inefficient.
“Inserting State and local amendments into the raw Microsoft Word version of the codes was challenging, time consuming and involved several members of our staff,” said Lee Kranz, Plan Review Supervisor for the City of Bellevue. “The software in that situation did not work well, because when we added tables or subtracted other items, it messed up the format downstream. It was a big challenge,” he added.
The process of physically inserting amendment pages into hard-copy code books also required time and resources. “Both Washington State and our department had to create insert pages for the hard-copy books. Every three years, we would have to go through the process of purchasing books from the International Code Council (ICC), and then get staff to insert the pages. When there were off-cycle changes to the code — either from the State or local Councils — we would have to reinsert the affected pages,” said Kranz.
Discussions with ICC introduced Kranz to the idea of having consolidated codes through ICC’s Custom Local Building Codes (CLBC) solution. With the CLBCs, reviewers, inspectors, developers, fire marshals, architects, design professionals — and the public — are able to go to one place and have access to a consolidated set of digital codes. “I was very excited to learn that ICC was developing software to make this happen. I pitched it to my boss, and he said let’s give it a try — and here we are,” said Kranz.
Bellevue’s CLBC solution consisted of 83 CLBC PDFs, 159 custom-printed books and a robust library of noncustom books. The city also purchased seven licenses to Digital Codes Premium, ICC’s online portal that provides full access to a large collection of model building codes, commentaries and standards. Digital Codes Premium provides enhanced tools that allow code users to research the codes and many of the reference standards all in one place.
Outcomes and Benefits
Bellevue’s CLBC solution has already made life easier for Kranz and his team in terms of amendment insertions and reduced proofreading cycles. “The ICC and General Code teams absorb a lot of the work of inserting amendments, so we can focus more on getting the amendments adopted.” Kranz has also noted efficiencies from Digital Codes Premium. “Instead of buying dozens of books for all the different disciplines, we bought Digital Codes Premium subscriptions that allow seven concurrent users at one time. So that saved us quite a bit of money,” said Kranz.
Even in these early stages of the solution, the reception to Digital Codes Premium has been favorable. “I think for the most part people like it and find it easy to use. You have your book, search functions, My Notes, hyperlinks — all these bells and whistles that make doing your code research easier,” says Kranz.
A Team Effort
Kranz credits ICC and the team at General Code for making Bellevue’s first foray into a CLBC a very positive experience. “The CLBC Developer at General Code was very responsive and smart. And the entire ICC/General Code team has the resources and depth of knowledge that made a significant difference in the success of this project, said Kranz.
General Code is helping the City of Bellevue, WA by providing a fast and efficient solution for making local amendments to their International Codes (I-Codes). We can do the same for your community.
To learn more about Custom Local Building Codes