Perhaps nothing can kill a project budget or give an owner heartburn quite like costly code fixes during (or in the worst case, after) construction. As architects, we do our best to navigate construction codes during design, but there’s no denying their complexity. Projects have to comply with multiple different codes at both the federal and local levels; different codes sometimes even contradict one another, leading to headaches for the design team.
However, a new website and mobile app hopes to make understanding and complying with building codes easier for architects and designers. “The solution we provide is a search engine tailored for architecture,” explains Scott Reynolds, co-founder of UpCodes. With his background in architecture, Reynolds has partnered with his brother Garrett Reynolds—who has a PhD in machine learning—and through UpCodes, the pair to ease some of that building code-driven frustration.
What UpCodes does is allow architects to select their jurisdiction and applicable codes before using the search engine, which then integrates data from all of the code publications, including amendments, to deliver the requested information. This can be a helpful tool for firms looking to work in unfamiliar jurisdictions, as well as for younger professionals working to become familiar with using building codes.
A large part of our mission has also been to empower younger architects, ones who may not have 15 years’ experience and familiarity with working on certain typologies. This gives the tools to those architects to have a much quicker understanding of the requirements as well as reducing some of the pressure on the more senior staff!
– Scott Reynolds
Another feature of UpCodes is the ability to collaborate with project team members through a feature called Project Pages. Within Project Pages, teams can bookmark and comment on relevant code sections and share them with consultants and other team members. Project Pages can also be utilized as a way to gather and save institutional knowledge, especially for firms that work often within a certain typology. “Firms will often do projects that repeat themselves and have similar requirements, but in my experience, a lot of that code research gets done twice,” said Scott Reynolds in an interview with TechCrunch. “We try to remove as much of that as possible and bring it to future projects as well.” UpCodes automatically updates all regulations as they are revised over time with monitoring tools built into the app that constantly check the websites where the codes are pulled from to keep the information up to date.
The first step, according to Reynolds, has been compiling and organizing all of the code data in an intuitive and useful way. “What we will be working on next is moving away from the architect ‘pulling’ information and towards an intelligent prediction tool that starts to ‘push’ information,” Reynolds said in a conversation with ArchDaily. These future developments will utilize co-founder Garrett Reynolds’ background in artificial intelligence and machine learning so that in the future, the architect will be able to input information about a project such as a project’s location, occupancy type, occupant load, and size, and the tool will then generate relevant code requirements for the architect to consider. Reynolds hopes that eventually, the system could even analyze a Revit or CAD plan automatically and give live feedback about possible code violations.
UpCodes is already gaining popularity within the field of architecture, with over 112,000 searches processed so far in 2017 and the number of users growing by 11% each week. More than 45,000 people per month visit UpCodes, spending a total of 220 hours on the site every day. The tool currently includes building codes for around 40 U.S. states, as well as New York City, and the Reynolds brothers plan to add Seattle, Los Angles, and Denver in the near future in response to demand. Visit UpCodes' website to learn more.