SBCA's SP Position Reaffirmed at ALSC Meeting

Originally published by: SBCAJanuary 9, 2012

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SBCA’s position on lumber design values was reaffirmed at the January 5, 2012 ALSC Board of Review meeting.

SBCA’s position on these issues has been consistently stated going back as early as March 2010. Such position has been publically summarized well by SFPA in the published minutes from the recent SFPA “Southern Pine Design Value Forum” meeting held on November 15 and 16, 2011 as follows:

“Kirk Grundahl, SBCA, summarized observations from testing conducted on behalf of component manufacturers. He described the optimal solution to serve the best interests of both the lumber and lumber-using industries. Kirk suggested optimal alternatives that could include standard visually graded lumber (e.g., use SPIB’s proposed design values), enhanced visually graded lumber (e.g., retain SPIB’s current design values) and mechanically graded lumber.

He stated the suboptimal approach would be to implement SPIB’s proposed design values without providing the market with the means to retain the current design values for visually graded Southern Pine lumber.

Kirk explained that users need the current design values; and the test data confirm higher design values are still available for a significant portion of the lumber population. He stated that structural end users buy resistance, and that those end users can find ways to work with a range of grades as long as those grades have accurate material properties. Kirk stressed that an orderly timeline and transition period is needed whenever design values are changed. He shared the component industry’s perspective on negative impacts due to redesign cost/time, inventory devaluation and eroded consumer confidence. Kirk also reviewed test results from an assembly of five trusses. He stated the assembly performed well with system safety factors, supporting the concept there isn’t an immediate life-safety issue.”

The unintended economic impact to designers, lumber remanufacturers such as the members of SBCA, and contractor and builder end-users might very well become significant. These include but are not limited to:

1. Possible stoppage and delays to thousands of single-family, multi-family and commercial construction projects directly resulting from a publication of new design values for Southern Pine;

2. Buildings, units of buildings, and entire projects that may have to be re-designed directly relating to the publication of new Southern Pine design values;

3. A significant reduction in Southern Pine lumber inventory economic value overnight for component manufacturers, lumber yards, builders, and homeowners; and

4. An inadequate supply of Southern Pine lumber with sufficient design properties to meet the growing construction demand for use in roof and floor trusses (and roof rafters and floor joists) and wall panels and conventionally framed walls by builders and contractors who prefer to construct with Southern Pine.

Project stoppage and delays or the cost of the needed re-design to ensure the building code expected level of safe performance could also very well impact the employment of hundreds of thousands of construction site workers and those companies who supply site construction. Project stoppage and delays will result in huge economic losses to project owners, contractors, subcontractors and suppliers who are ill-prepared to absorb further losses from an already dismal construction marketplace.

The light frame construction industry is built upon the concept that load resistant framing design can be undertaken with confidence in the structural reliability provided by those assigning design value properties to each unit of lumber produced. This confidence is being undermined by the actions taken on the part of SPIB. The process by which lumber design values have been monitored yet not changed over a period of twenty years, to be followed with suggested design value reductions of up to 25-30% on few weeks’ notice needs to be carefully investigated.

The Southern Pine users and designers, and the consuming public generally otherwise are subject to unintended adverse economic consequences when lumber design values thought to be reliable, turn out to be unreliable.

For more information, go to SBCA's lumber web

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