This site has 30 educational web pages with videos about the new seismic retrofit guideline ICC 1300.  Almost all of the web pages have the contractor in mind. Type ICC 1300 in the search box to the upper right if you want to know more about ICC 1300.

Don’t Be Afraid To Notch Floor Joists

Reducing Costs In Seismic Retrofits With Code Violation


Reducing costs in seismic retrofits is always a big consideration. FEMA P-11/ICC 1300 retrofits are extremely expensive.  This page and video will teach you how to save money on your seismic retrofit in a big way by violating the building code in a small way.

Cutting floor joists is a violation of the building code but it is often the best way to economically retrofit a house while still maintaining safety.  Cost-effective retrofits come out of sound engineering and taking advantage of minor code violations (if it can save thousands of dollars) is worthwhile.  The seismic retrofit guideline published by the International Code Council ICC 1300 Vulnerability Based Seismic Assessment and Retrofit of One and Two-Story Dwellings   cannot reduce the costs of seismic retrofits because building code requirements does not admit any flexibility. In this video, I will explain why I believe violating the building code is a sometimes-good idea.

This video is an in-depth look at the three different ways obstructions to end joists are dealt with.  One of which requires a building code violation.

This video only looks at just one of the three methods which requires a violation of the building code.

For engineers and building officials, the building code is the Bible.  Building departments commonly turn a blind eye to cost and efficiency because it is illegal for them to suggest violating the building code. Here you will see how a minor code violation has not only zero impact on safety but a tremendous impact on preventing damage and injuries in earthquakes as well.  Not reducing the cost of seismic retrofits through violating a minor requirement of the building code does not serve the interests of the public.

If you do this yourself, it is always best to cut a half-moon shape just large enough for your hand and a Palm Nailer to fit.  Grip-Rite makes a very small Palm Nailer which is perfect for installing Simpson Strong-Tie L90s or other seismic retrofit hardware.  If the wood is too hard, and this wood can be very hard, don’t be afraid to use a Sawzall with a rough-cut blade.  As stated in the video, if you removed this joist completely you would never know the difference.

This webpage is for educational purposes only.


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Everything expressed here is solely the views of the author. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Applied Technology Council, or the International Code Council.