Thursday, 18 August 2016

Regulation check


We are such wusses today.

So shackled by regulation most of which we’re barely aware, like background noise.

Like frogs, we are boiled slowly without even realising the heat on us all is turned up daily.

I think of this when I see pictures like this, the deepest stairwell in the world in Rajasthan, India. Centuries old, people used to carry water up to the top.


There are two fences, one at the top and one halfway up, added a few years ago.

But can you imagine what safety rails you’d need there if you were to buiild this now? In today’s world of wall-to-wall clipboard wielders?

I’ll give you a clue. It would be covered with them. Just covered.

These are the things I think about when I see pictures like this.

[Hat tip for pic Vala Afshar]


  1. I'm so over this.

    We paid over $30k for a frameless glass balustrade because we wanted unrestricted views; just about double price of any sight-restricted system.

    If our balustrade is not yet illegal, it can't be far away (I'm sure it would be Auckland already per news reports I read about two months ago).

    But it suits us perfectly. It increases our standard of living immensely (if I could post photos here you'd soon see why.)

    And what happens when, say a pane breaks for whatever reason, I have no idea. Well no I do; we'll simply repair to current specs, we're not losing this balcony, but we'll then be crims, I guess. How ludicrous.

  2. Build another deck further out and just 950mm below the other one. Then build your legal balustrade on that one, all according to Code, and knock over your existing one.
    That's what you'd do. And you'd have a much clearer view. :-)

    1. Now there's an architect thinking. Like a ha-ha (spelling?) on a hill.

  3. True story. I once spent a day in Sydney with a fellow who was writing the Australian code on balustrades, which was intended to be along the lines of our own heavily restricted Code. We spent part of the day looking at places where such things would be ridiculous, and ended up in the Chinese Garden at Darling Harbour, in which the very low balustrades virtually *project* a person out into the space. They were beautiful!

    These had been used successfully for hundreds of years, we agreed, and the code he was writing would make them and others like them illegal.
    At the time, he seemed to agree. He loved them. He saw the point. Yet I see that the code that was finally written virtually makes prison bars mandatory, and them illegal.

    So a sad story. Even when the grey ones know and love what they're bannning, they still go right ahead and do it. That's dedication for you. :-/

    1. Yes - it's a phenomenon I've encountered many times before, and it's because the system they work within encourages butt-covering, regardless of their personal views. So when the rules are required to be black and white, you end up with excessively conservative rules. On the other hand when the rules aren't black and white and require some degree of discretion or judgement on the part of officials, you end up with regime uncertainty - at the mercy of whether you're dealing with half decent people or assholes, and whether you can use political leverage to get an interpretation of the rules that allows your proposal.

    2. PS - I could also tell you a behind-the-scenes story about Nick Smith and a certain high profile project that was canned, that is another perfect illustration of this.

  4. My grandfather used to call this "STD society--save the dumb". It's a natural outgrowth of the nanny-state mentality. After all, if we're too stupid to plan for our own retirement, or to manage our own healthcare, or to decide what lightbulbs to use or how much water our toilets should use, how can we POSSIBLY be smart enough to figure out how to build something safely?! Never mind the fact that Roman aquaducts and other ancient structures have survived hundreds or thousands of years; without Mommy and Daddy Government telling us how to build things, we can't possibly build anything that won't collapse while we're building it.

    I broke my shoulder doing Medieval martial arts. Charged a unit of 20 guys, all of whom were unhappy with me (my unit had been obliterating them all morning). 1 guy vs. 20; I lost. The FIRST QUESTION the medic asked me was "Are you going to press charges?" I still hold by my response: "I would view any judge who would accept such a case as too incompetent to preside over a legal case. It was my fault. I'll take my lumps."

    The worst part isn't even that, though. I work with a lot of construction types, and have seen a MUCH worse problem. When dealing with issues at construction sites, the question is never "Is this safe?" The question is "Does it follow the regs?" What this means is that the attempts to make buildings safer have caused the folks doing the building to ignore safety. If some jackass in the government puts a typo into the code, this generation of engineers may never catch it--they're not trained to, they're trained to blindly follow the regulations.

    This is why we can't have nice things. Because someone, somewhere will make a stupid choice and get hurt, the government will demand that no one ever be held responsible for the consequences of their actions, and engineers will be too brainwashed to notice the insanity.


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