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Home buyers naturally take for granted that the floor system in a new house is safe and complies with the building code—and rightly so. But home buyers also have expectations for their floors that are unrelated to safety or the building code. In particular, many home buyers are aware of their floor’s “vibration” in response to foot traffic, which some people find annoying or disturbing.
In Canada, the building code includes limits on floor vibration. But U.S. codes don’t regulate floor vibration. So most U.S. builders design for deflection only—typically by holding deflection due to live load to a maximum of L/360 (where “L” is the floor joist span), or perhaps a more restrictive L/480.