Build your knowledge at Brac construction forum

Updates on building practices and standards will be among the featured topics during a free two-day public course in building codes, starting Oct. 11 in Cayman Brac’s district administration building.

The program is open to tradesmen, architects, draftsmen, contractors and others in the construction industry.

The seminars, between 7:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., are the latest in a months-long series updating planning officials and private contractors in the International Building Code, which is scheduled to take effect early next year, regulating construction standards across the Cayman Islands.

The 2009 International Code Training Sessions, according to an official news release, will “improve the Department of Planning’s performance and efficiency as the Cayman Islands government transitions to the 2009 international family of codes in early 2014.

“Benefits to the public will include updates to current building practices and updates to the referenced standards that govern significant improvements to life, health and safety considerations that are not presently reflected in the Standard Building Code currently in use.”

Roughly translated, the sessions will address changes in building codes inaugurated in 2005 and brought largely to completion in 2009, superseding a set of three previous codes, used regionally for years across the U.S.

A group called the International Code Council sought in 2005 to unify the three codes to account for improvements in construction technology and techniques. However, the Cayman Islands continued to use the aging Southern Standard Building Codes, although obsolete, out of print and no longer overseen by a governing body.

“And so we are taking a big step now in the jurisdiction, getting on international standards,” said Jacqueline Bleicher, part of the policy development division in the Planning Department and in charge of the training exercises.

“We tried first in 2006, but ran into problems. It was a matter of timing. Now we are moving to 2009. We hope to adopt the changes and hopefully by [next year] we’ll have our foot in the door and the staff will have moved forward.”

The department gained feedback last year, adopting some of the incremental changes in the 2009 codes, which continue to be “heavily reviewed,” Ms Bleicher said, including “Caymanisation” of some of their features. “They are not necessarily the ‘latest and the greatest,’ but if they are a good thing for us, we adopt them.”

Code changes, she said, normally run in three-year cycles and are constantly under review,

Training for Planning Department staff has been underway since July, she said, including studying industry changes, seeking to integrate them by next year and boosting their own efficiency.

“The country is able to see the codes here; we can go to the umbrella organization if we have questions; it will update building and technology practices, streamline health, safety and administration,” few of which were addressed in the old Southern Standard codes, Ms Bleicher said.

Director of Planning Haroon Pandohie, according to the official press release, said he was “pleased to be able to take the training initiative to Cayman Brac to support local contractors and tradesmen. This specialized training was requested by practitioners in Cayman Brac and Little Cayman and is necessary to keep practitioners current on key areas of the 2009 International Codes that are to be adopted.“

Training will be aided by John England of England Training Divisions, a U.S.-based consultancy certified by the International Code Council. Mr. England led the department’s summertime training sessions, and said he was “delighted to be able to continue training code officials and the public in Cayman Brac.”

Sessions will continue for Department of Planning staff in Grand Cayman through Oct. 22.