2015 International Building Code, Chapter 1 Scope and Administration, Section 104 Duties and Powers of Building Official
[A] 104.11 Alternative materials, design and methods of construction and equipment.
The provisions of this code are not intended to prevent the installation of any material or to prohibit any design or method of construction not specifically prescribed by this code, provided that any such alternative has been approved. An alternative material, design or method of construction shall be approved where the building official finds that the proposed design is satisfactory and complies with the intent of the provisions of this code, and that the material, method or work offered is, for the purpose intended, not less than the equivalent of that prescribed in this code in quality, strength, effectiveness, fire resistance, durability and safety. Where the alternative material, design or method of construction is not approved, the building official shall respond in writing, stating the reasons why the alternative was not approved.
[A] 104.11.1 Research reports.
Supporting data, where necessary to assist in the approval of materials or assemblies not specifically provided for in this code, shall consist of valid research reports from approved sources.
2015 International Building Code, Chapter 2 Definitions, Section 201 General
[A] APPROVED SOURCE. An independent person, firm or corporation, approved by the building official, who is competent and experienced in the application of engineering principles to materials, methods or systems analyses.
DrJ Commentary: The "alternative to the code" approval process is generally performed by "an independent person, firm or corporation who is competent and experienced in the application of engineering principles to materials, methods or systems analyses.” The code definition of an "approved source" is identical to the definition of a registered design professional or professional engineer. These individuals are subject to professional licensing laws of the jurisdiction. Denial of a report or a design certified by a registered design professional's seal, without providing the specific reasons for denial with details in writing, is superseding a registered design professional's commerce, which restrains trade. If the registered design professional is not competent to do the work, the competency issues must be brought before the board of professional regulation. Please check with your jurisdiction's attorney for further information.
[A] 104.11.2 Tests.
Whenever there is insufficient evidence of compliance with the provisions of this code, or evidence that a material or method does not conform to the requirements of this code, or in order to substantiate claims for alternative materials or methods, the building official shall have the authority to require tests as evidence of compliance to be made at no expense to the jurisdiction Test methods shall be as specified in this code or by other recognized test standards. In the absence of recognized and accepted test methods, the building official shall approve the testing procedures. Tests shall be performed by an approved agency. Reports of such tests shall be retained by the building official for the period required for retention of public records.