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Whether your designs include awnings, canopies or fabric structures, you’ve no doubt noticed that the building code environment has become more complex in recent years. Pulling a permit can be a bureaucratic nightmare, but the hard fact is, either you’re dealing with building code issues now, or you will be in the near future. There are no easy answers when it comes to building codes and fabric architecture, but here are some strategies that might make it easier:
- The IBC is the most relevant code in the United States to fabric structures and commercial awnings and canopies. But familiarizing yourself with the state and local code specifics is equally important.
- When installing, make sure that no corners are cut and that all subs are following code. In the long run it will be worth it.
- Know the product: It’s essential to know the structural capabilities of the fabrics and elements involved in your design. Have all materials tested by an engineer familiar with fabric work.
- Keep code officials close: Have a person in your office whose focus is to know the area codes, the officials and their requirements vis-à-vis fabric use.
- NFPA 701 is one of the most commonly cited U.S. flammability standards in the specialty fabrics industry.
- CSFM is revising its textile flammability requirements. Contact them directly to determine what is current.