The Plan Check, Code Consulting & ADA Compliance
Resource For Building Departments


Working with CALBO to Provide California Legislative Leadership and Advocacy

By Charles Russ Russell

Are you aware that there are 532 cities, counties, and jurisdictions in California with an equal number of building departments? Each one of these jurisdictions has either a building official or other senior level inspector who administers the appropriate codes. These individuals belong to a non-profit organization called California Building Officials Organization or CALBO. CALBO provides a mechanism of support for building officials.

Building officials are required to enforce Title 24, which includes building, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, energy, and green codes. To that end, CALBO retains a government specialist who tracks all pending legislation that may impact local building departments and building codes.

One week per year, CALBO holds a Leadership and Advocacy event where building officials meet with selected legislators to discuss the pros and cons of pending legislation. For the second year in a row, I was fortunate enough to be selected for the face-to-face meetings with certain State Senators and Assemblymen.

This year there are several Bills that are being track by CALBO, but for this article I'm only going to talk about two pending pieces of legislation.

AB 116 Land Use, Subdivision Maps: Expiration Dates. Currently there are approximately 3,000 approved tentative tract and parcel maps that will expire because developers have been waiting for the economy to turn around. The proposed legislation will grant a 24-month extension to those currently approved. CALBO is in support of the Bill because it realizes these approved projects will generate many new jobs and will continue to stimulate the economy while other projects are being developed.

AB 834, Energy Efficiency Standards: Administrative Enforcement. This Bill would allow the California Energy Commission (CEC) to establish an administrative enforcement of building standards relating to energy and water conservation. This proposed process would duplicate current building department inspection, introduce unnecessary confusion for construction developers, create possible delays in obtaining a certificate of occupancy and may impose additional fees for additional inspections.

It appears the proposed legislation applies only to new construction and CALBO is wondering about the protocols for this new inspection. Will they be random? Will every project need to inspected? How many certified inspectors are currently in the field? Building departments currently have field inspectors who visit job sites many times during the construction process and only need a higher level of training with the pending code to insure compliance.

The energy code is one of the most complicated that is enforced by building departments regularly. Building inspectors and contractors have a hard time keeping up with the changing standards and all the variations contained within the code. If a continuing education program was provided, both inspectors and contractors could and would provide the level of installations and inspections that would meet stated standards. Currently, in its present form, CALBO is in opposition to the Bill unless amended. CALBO is reaching out to the authors of the Bill in the hope of introducing language that will meet stated goals.

Most people only see building officials at the counter in their respective building departments. From legislation to code development to interpretation to application, building officials are mandated by law to enforce all building codes, which in turn make the buildings of each community safe to occupy.

Former RBF Chief Financial Officer Doug Frost Joins VCA Code

VCA Code, the premier provider of building code consulting, outsourced plan check services, and ADA compliance based in Orange County, Calif., announced the addition of Mr. Doug Frost as Chief Financial Officer to the firm's growing staff.

Mr. Frost comes to VCA after 28 years at RBF Consulting, one of the nations leading planning, design and construction firms. He joined RBF in 1984 as the corporate controller, was promoted to vice president of finance in one year and to chief financial officer two years later. He served in that capacity for more than 20 years up to the date of the sale of the firm to Michael Baker, Jr. Corporation in 2011. During his tenure at RBF, Mr. Frost was directly involved in and helped manage the growth of the small local firm he joined in 1984 to see it become one of the most successful regional firms in the nation.
In his new role at VCA Code, Mr. Frost will be responsible for all financial controls and human resources, joining the senior management team as it guides the growth of the firm.
VCA Code is a distinguished provider of building code services to city and county municipalities with a special emphasis on plan check, training and ADA compliance consulting. In addition, via its VCA Green division, the firm provides green building consulting and commissioning.
We are very excited to have Mr. Frost join our growing team, says VCA President Tom VanDorpe. Demand for our services continues to increase, and Doug's experience in managing growth will provide a key strategic component as we expand to meet the needs of our clients while maintaining the quality service that has been a hallmark of VCA for more than 30 years.

For more information on VCA Code, please visit: or call (714) 363-4700(714) 363-4700.



VCA and SCL published a joint whitepaper regarding effects of 2010 California Building Code on Light-Frame structural design. The paper provides information on critical changes that effect the design and plancheck of common structures.

The whitepaper is titled "2010 Building Code Update: Re-tooling Your Office For Changes to the 2010 California Building Regulations That Affect Light-Frame Structures." A snippet of the white paper is shown below, and the rest of the white paper is available after the link.

When the rules of practice change, re-tooling efforts can be dramatic for engineers engaged in plan review or production of light-frame structural designs. The repetition and volume that is common in light-frame design requires engineers to develop efficient internal work procedures in order to remain competitive. It is seldom acknowledged that a small organization may have tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars invested into internal production infrastructure including computer programs, spreadsheets, forms, standards, staff training and other items. As the code develops in complexity and length, challenges occur when seemingly benign code changes create significant impacts to established work flows.


Thorough. Qualified. Respected. Comprehensive. Competent. Not our words, but rather those of the manufacturers and building officials with whom IAPMO ES has worked in recent years; words expressing trust and satisfaction in evaluation reports completed by IAPMO ES, coming from both sides of the permit counter.


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