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An Oct. 6 proposal by the Southern Pine Inspection Bureau (SPIB) to lower the design values for all grades and sizes of visually graded Southern Pine by approximately 25% to 30% would have a serious impact on home builders.
The SPIB was seeking immediate implementation of its proposal at an Oct. 20 meeting of the Board of Review of the American Lumber Standard Committee (ALSC).
However, NAHB and other industry groups moved quickly to delay any action until all affected parties had time to review SPIB test results on which the proposal was based and provide comments.
The board of review announced at its Oct. 20 meeting that it will take no action on the issue until after it holds a second meeting on Jan. 5 in order to give all interested parties the opportunity to comment on the proposal.
Affected parties are being encouraged to submit their comments in writing or in person.
Attending the Oct. 20 meeting, NAHB and members of its Building Systems Councils presented comments in opposition to the proposal.
They were joined by representatives from the timber industry, the Structural Building Components Association and universities engaged in wood research, all of whom opposed the proposal.
NAHB questioned the need for an immediate change, citing the lack of access to SPIB’s test results, which had only been provided to the ALSC board.
The association subsequently requested and received these materials and is reviewing them in preparation for providing additional comments to the board.
NAHB will be looking to determine if the test results supporting the lower design values are from a single species of lumber classified as Southern Pine or from the rapid-growth, juvenile portions of lumber cut from newer Southern Pine forests.
If the results are from a single species, then the proposed reduction in design values should be limited to that species. If they are from the juvenile portions of some lumber, then changes to the grading process should be considered.
While the delay is good news for NAHB members, it does not resolve the issue.
If the ALSC board approves the change on Jan. 5 and it is published in SPIB’s “Supplement No. 9 to the 2002 Standard Grading Rules for Southern Pine Lumber,” this will have a severe impact on many housing projects currently in the pipeline, as well as on the design of future homes constructed of Southern Pine.
NAHB will continue to work with members and industry partners to address this issue.
For more information, email Gary Ehrlich at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8545.