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BS* + Beer

The BS* + Beer Show: Building Codes: Where did they come from? Where should they go?

This episode of the BS* + Beer show includes an energetic overview of the history of building codes delivered by Glenn Mathewson, educator at, who happens to have over 700 vintage building code books. The trajectory begins with “The Code of Hammurabi King of Babylon,” dating to 2250 B.C. (and written on a stone slate), and moves through George Washington’s declared codes, the birth of the “model” or recommended code, the National Board of Fire Underwriters’ hand in “public-private benefit” codes, the introduction of egress code as well as affordable minimum standards, and on through myriad iterations of multiple print publications. He walks us through the different areas of emphasis—from structural stability to fire-resistance to sanitation—and the roles federal, state, and city branches of government played in the ultimate development of code as we know it today. History buffs will love this one!

“We had building regulations before we had freedom of speech.”—Glenn Mathewson

Join us on Thursday, October 8, from 6 to 7:30 pm, when returning guest Doug Horgan and good friend Randy Williams will dive into building diagnostics. The episode will look at the targeted problem-solving tools and techniques we use to assess our buildings’ performance—both during construction and after completion. Doug’s plan is to cover moisture meter, thermal camera, psychrometer, manometer, and blower-door technologies, and possibly datalogging. Much of the focus will be on water-related issues, and he will take the opportunity to demonstrate readings of different building materials using a thermal camera, a pinless meter, and a pin meter. Randy is both a builder and an energy-rater in Minnesota, where he utilizes all the best gadgets—like draft hoods, moisture meters, thermal imagers, data loggers, smoke machines, and blower doors, which he will discuss in addition to a unique case study. We hope to see you there for a heaping helping of BS* (we also recommend the beer).

Doug Horgan is vice president of Best Practices at BOWA, the Washington DC area’s premier custom and remodeling builder. In this training, quality monitoring, and troubleshooting role, Doug’s goal is to reduce construction defects through knowledge sharing. Doug’s 30 years of experience in the fields of carpentry, warranty-troubleshooting, and instruction, along with thousands of photos taken along the way, are the foundation for visually rich presentations on how to build well and avoid construction problems. Doug is a frequent contributor to the “Journal of Light Construction,” “ProTradeCraft,” “Fine Homebuilding,” “Remodeling,” and “Professional Remodeler,” and he has presented at Remodeling, JLC Live, NESEA Building Energy, the National Home Performance conference, and local events. His credentials include BPI Building Analyst and LEED AP – Homes. 

Randy Williams has been in the construction industry for 25 years, 10 of which were spent working as an electrician. He still holds a journeyman electrician license. In 2009, he moved away from general contracting into a career as an energy auditor. Today, in addition to conducting energy assessments, he does some building science and energy design work, and keeps a hand in the carpentry field as a subcontractor and occasionally as a consultant.

Use this link to register for The BS* + Beer Show.


-You can contact Kiley Jacques at [email protected]. Photo courtesy of Glenn Mathewson.


  1. Davin_ | | #1

    Glenn mentioned currently 20% of book sales fund ICC, but unless I missed it didn't say where the other 80% comes from. Just out of curiosity.. anyone know?

    1. Expert Member
      Michael Maines | | #2

      Davin, I don't know but would assume that states have to pay the ICC for the rights to the content they provide. There may also be federal funding available through the Department of Energy--again, just a guess.

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