Many contractors who specialize in concrete repair have heard of the Vision 2020 plan for the concrete repair, protection, and strengthening industry. The plan was launched in 2006 by the Strategic Development Council (a council of the ACI Foundation), with support from the International Concrete Repair Institute (ICRI) and other industry leaders, to improve the efficiency, safety, and quality of concrete repair.
Fewer are familiar with the new code that’s been established as a result. The American Concrete Institute’s (ACI) Code Requirements for Evaluation, Repair, and Rehabilitation of Concrete Buildings (ACI 562) sets minimum requirements that address the unique nature of construction on existing buildings. As engineers and architects follow these code provisions for everything from parking deck repairs to high-rise rehabilitations, there are some important things contractors need to know about how this new approach to concrete repair will impact their work.
1. It’s not a one-size-fits-all code
“When we started developing the standard, the committee recognized the tremendous variety of existing concrete buildings, which were built using a variety of building codes and exhibit a myriad of structural problems,” says Keith Kesner, a project manager with CVM Engineers in King of Prussia, Pa., and the current chairman of ACI Committee 562. “Due to the wide scope of repair and rehabilitation issues, the committee concluded that a prescriptive standard was impractical.”
Instead, the committee developed ACI’s first performance-based code. Rather than specific formulas that must be followed in any situation, the code provides minimum performance requirements.
Designers use their judgment to determine appropriate solutions that result in safe, code-compliant concrete repairs. For instance, an approach to repairing and strengthening a parking structure will be vastly different than converting an old library building into a hotel.
2. Repair-specific standards save money, and historic structures
Before ACI 562, work done to existing structures was sometimes held to standards for new construction. Without a material-specific repair standard, building inspectors often required repairs to meet the criteria of a code intended for new buildings, such as ACI 318. This often resulted in overly costly repair or rehabilitation designs, which sometimes led owners to demolish a building and rebuild it instead.
“With this code, engineers can give an existing structure the credit it deserves,” says Dylan Freytag, principal at Austin, Texas-based Pivot Engineers. “Unless a building is deemed unsafe, we can generally use the code that fits best, whether it’s the original code that applied when the building was built or a new version, rather than having to hold a building to an unrealistic standard.”
ACI 562 is a valuable tool for designers as they determine which code should apply, especially when a project involves both new construction and rehabilitation of existing elements. “There are real stakes involved in the outcomes of these decisions,” says Freytag.
According to the original philosophy behind the code, common standards for concrete repair and rehabilitation will result in more consistent, higher-quality structural repairs, and ultimately save more existing structures that would otherwise be neglected or demolished.