The Building Code Debate: Testimony From Al Ysrael


Guam – Developer Al Ysrael submitted the following testimony during Senator Tom Ada’s hearing Wednesday night on the implementation of the new International Business Code.

August 18, 2010

Salutations and Good Evening:  Members of the Guam legislature:

I come with Good news and Bad News:

(1)   Good news:  As a property owner, and in behalf of all other property owners on the Island, I would like to thank you for the passage and implementation of the new International  Building and Fire Codes.  It automatically increased the value of our property by TWENTY PER CENT

(2)   The Government of Guam, should also thank you, since it automatically increased the value of all GovGuam holdings by an additional Twenty per Cent (20%), which means that GovGuam can now borrow an additional 20% on their bond limit.

Now for the Bad News:

As a Consumer and a Developer, (they are the same), since a Developer builds for the use of consumers, either to rent or to sell to consumers, the Developer must now raise his prices an additional twenty per cent (20%), to cover the additional delays and paper work,  that goes with the new International Building and Fire Code.  It just means more delays, more paper shuffling, more expense, to achieve the same results, that we now have with the original Universal Building and Fire Code.

The laws of economics, goes against the grain of the laws of politicans:  1 + 1, will always equal two (2);  and not eleven (11), as GovGuam, usually proposes.

Let us make a Comparison  of the two :  IFC/IBC versus  the UFC/UBC?  What is the difference??  What is in the IBC/IFC that is not in the UBC/UFC?   Where you aware that the UBC/UFC system is updated annually?

The real cost is implementing and learning a “new system”.

In addition to single family and duplex houses, “small apartments (16 or less units and 2 stories or less) and small commercial building currently do not require “sprinkler”. These types of building do not pose any risk and are the most common buildings on Guam.

Current Guam statute provides for grandfathering, and defines what constitutes a “renovation”. If they want new codes, it needs to comply with existing Guam laws.

What is this attitude that we have to bring in the new code?? No one has been able to articulate what is great about the new code, nor what is bad about the old code. If someone wants change, they need to show how existing is bad and the proposed is good. Just because it is dated “2009” and has the word “international” does not make it equal or better to what we have, or claiming and saying that it is safer for the better good of the community, and is eco-friendly, or any other buzz politically correct,  words. .

We need to be less like a politician, and more like a citizen. We need to make our position “clear”, and not a mishmash of everyone is right and we will create a compromise. IBC/IFC is plan wrong, and UFC/UBC is fine until someone can show how it is not.

If anything comes out of this, it is that they need to respect the grandfather clause.

And lastly, since GovGuam is proposing this new legislation,  and since GovGuam has the largest number of buildings and the largest use of such buildings by our citizenry, therefore in all fairness and in all normal logical reasoning, GovGuam buildings and other public facilities should be the first to be made to comply with this outlandish new regulations and code.  Lead by example.

There is a sense of discrimination on the implementation of the laws, one set of implementation against private enterprise and another set of rules (none) against GovGuam facilities.

I have built buildings in the Philippines, Guam, and in the Mainland, Northern and Southern California, Utah, Nevada and Washington State..  In the mainland, if they get a 60 mile an hour wind, it is declared a disaster area.  In the mainland, buildings five and six story in height, are made of plywood, and pressed wood chips.  Our buildings are meant  to withstand 155 mile per hour wind, and because of normal overdesign, they have withstood 195 an hour winds.  In so far as fire is concerned, ask any insurance adjustors, I have,   The greatest damage is not done by fire, but by water hoses and sprinklers.  The only building that collapsed  during the 7.2 earthquake, was caused by faulty construction procedures, not by design or proper construction.

Cordially yours,
Alfred C. Ysrael
The “GADFLY” from Guam
Our Island Paradise
Only Individuals and Private Enterprise produce the Nation’s wealth; Governments only spend and waste it.