These regulations are designed to assure structural safety in buildings and to reduce hazards to life and property, but they often require the use of excessive amounts of material, or fail to assure safety. Rapid development in design, better knowledge of the properties of materials as a result of research, and the development of new materials, or the adaptation of old materials to new uses, have made many existing provisions obsolete.
Individual cities are not equipped to do the extensive research necessary to put code requirements upon a complete scientific basis. The Advisory Committee on Building Codes, appointed by the Secretary of Commerce in 1921, and composed of engineers and architects of national reputation, has issued six reports dealing with small dwelling construction, plumbing, masonry walls, allowances for live loads in design, working stresses for timber, steel, concrete, and cast iron, and arrangement of building codes. A report on fire resistive construction has also been completed.
In many cases tests were undertaken at the Bureau of Standards to clear up doubtful points, and investigations of the actual performance of various materials under different circumstances in actual construction had to be made.
The general acceptance of the reports as authoritative is shown by their use, within six years from publication of the first bulletin, by bodies formulating or revising ordinances in more than 200 cities and in model or mandatory codes in seven states.
That further use will be found for them is indicated by a recent survey in which it was reported that more than 200 cities are engaged in revising their building codes and more than 100 in revising their plumbing codes.