Enclosing the bath business: Association members face off to forge standards—or set code—for framele
While giving lip service to collaboration with members of the Bath Enclosure Manufacturers Association of Topeka, Kan., Donn Harter, president, Americas Glass Association of Placerville, Calif., announced May 13 that he filed proposed amendments to the International Building Code to regulate construction of shower enclosures.
In early May, Harter said he filed the amendments with the International Code Council of Falls Church, Va., for consideration. He also said he had filed proposed voluntary test standards for shower-door hardware with ASTM International of West Conshohocken, Pa. His proposals can be viewed at www.americasglassassn.org/pdfs/IBCFinalAmend.pdf.
At presstime, neither ICC nor ASTM International officials could verify whether those documents had actually been filed, or when. If the code proposal was filed after the March deadline for the 2006 code cycle, it would have to be considered for the 2007 cycle.
Harter’s announcement during the AGA’s trade show May 12-13 in Anaheim, Calif., comes at a time when BEMA members strive to develop their own standard. Members of an AGA task force have been working on a proposal for nearly two years, whereas BEMA members launched standard-setting activities last year, Harter noted.
During a seminar on shower enclosures at the trade show, Tom Whitaker, president of Mr. Shower Door in Norwalk, Conn., said BEMA members want to collaborate with AGA to achieve the consensus required to build an industry standard.“We’re trying to see what we can do to resolve differences,” Harter responded. “But we have asked ASTM to start testing [hardware] on a voluntary basis. This primarily came about because one county stopped installation of shower doors because of a lack of code.
“Industry standards typically take two years or more to achieve consensus,” Harter warned. “We cannot wait that long, or we’ll have more stoppages.”
Beginning in January 1999 for three or four months, Marin County, Calif., issued a moratorium on shower-door installation, Harter recalled.
“A partnership is important,” Harter noted. “We’re not in favor of withdrawing our amendment to the IBC, but submitting changes.”
Chris Birch, BEMA executive director, said members of the organizations have agreed to create a dialogue through e-mail to work out differences in their organizations’ plans. Although BEMA has not published a proposed standard, officials said they intend to seek approval of a standard and then have that standard inserted into building code. Harter insists that specific requirements must be entered as direct amendments to the IBC. Whitaker and Harter said other differences include the need for:
• Two-sided support, given an acceptable amount of glass deflection
• Testing criteria for deflection
• Prohibition or regulation on the use of inside towel bars
• Regulation of 1⁄2-inch sliders
• Regulation of minimum opening size to 18 inches versus 22 inches.
“I don’t think we’re that far apart,” Harter concluded. “We need to work out how we’re going to present it to the code people.”
Members of both organizations decried demands by architects and building owners for installations of frameless shower doors that lack suitable mechanical fasteners and supports. They also seek a written standard mandating the quality of hinges and other hardware.
At the same time, Whitaker said that many installation issues—such as the proper hardware—were best deferred to manufacturers for resolution, rather than dictated by a standard.
“Once we all agree, we must actively advertise to designers that this is gospel for properly installed, safe units,” said Ed Perry, president of American Shower Door in City of Commerce, Calif.