Getting to Yes: Making Effective Use of the Alternate Means Process
Arguably, one of the most important sections of the International Building Code (IBC) is not used for most construction projects. This section opens up countless performance-based paths for the successful design and construction of buildings and equipment. Codified in Section 104.11 of the IBC, it is most commonly referenced as the provision for AMMRs—shorthand for Alternate Materials and Methods Requests.
The AMMR provisions permit a Building Official to consider the intent of prescriptive code provisions when deliberating on new or existing technologies in materials, design and methods that are not explicitly addressed in the code. In this way, the code can provide the flexibility to address new concepts, innovations, and developments that may not have been recognized or even existed during the code’s formal development process. The AMMR code section can also prove helpful in addressing code-compliance paths that are by nature complex, since it creates a framework for a specific approval process, with appropriate consideration and documentation, so that in the future it is possible to retrace the logical steps that were associated with a particular permit process. For this reason, sometimes the AMMR process is used in situations where there is simply a complex enough situation that it is the preference of either the applicant or code official that it be part of the permit approval process, even though the project may not actually be incorporating newly developed materials or methods.
This paper provides an overview of the AMMR process, including reasons to pursue an AMMR, requirements, examples, and practical considerations.