|NOTE: This is not a strategy that we advocate. Rules and rule makers may be misguided but we advocate following them if they don't matter and appealing those that do matter based on reason, logic and science.|
To: "No Name"
From: Jim Buckley
Thanks for the feedback. It's interesting to see how regulation actually works in the real world. I'm surprised that you had trouble with the 20". The code is pretty clear both in the 1997 UBC (still in effect in California) and the new International Residential Code. Here is the language:
Anyway, glad the fireplace works and that you seem pleased.
Here in California, glass doors are required to get an occupancy permit for a new house. Our solution was to rent them - there are people here who do this! We fastened them in place with a few screws in the masonry joints of our surround, got our permit, and took them out. The screw holes were easily repaired. Another big problem here is the minimum firebox depth requirement of 20in. We spent about $1000 trying to get this waived by the local building inspector, but finally gave up and built the 20in. depth. In spite of this, our 2 fireplaces work just great.
There is surprisingly little smoke residue on the firebox walls, and we use castiron firebacks. Other than the depth, they are true Rumford designs, 36in. width and 34in. height. Our brick is "Rose Red", from Maryland, and the hearth is laid without mortar into the firebox floor.
I didn't mention that our house was being built in 1991-2 and that we did communicate with you at that time - you were just getting started, I think. I found the information that we got from you very helpful. I also was using Vrest Orton's book on Rumford fireplaces. The $1000 was spent on architect's fees in documenting the history of the design and making a presentation and appeal to the local building official*.
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