North Carolina’s Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey issued an alert on Monday (6-14-21) in regard to European lumber being used in the construction of homes and buildings throughout the state. In North Carolina, the N.C. Department of Insurance regulates the state’s building codes and oversees the N.C. Building Code Council. The Building Code Council has determined European lumber, which is being imported to help with the nation’s lumber shortage, does not meet N.C. building code requirements and, in some cases, could cause catastrophic failures in wall, floor and roof framing. A primary concern is the specific gravity or wood density that affects the performance of fastening devices, such as nails, screws or gusset plates.
“Contractors should be aware that, despite a piece of lumber bearing a ‘No. 2’ stamp, there can be significant differences in the wood’s engineering properties depending on where it came from,” said Commissioner Causey. “I urge builders to know the difference between imported and domestic ‘No. 2’ stamped lumber so they don’t mistakenly use the wood in an unsafe manner that does not meet code.”
As a result of these significant issues, the N.C. Building Code Council has issued an advisory that European lumber can only be used as an alternate material that must be reviewed by the code enforcement official before it is used. This does not mean European wood products are prohibited, it simply requires additional supporting documentation to assure the wood characteristics are properly reflected in the overall project design. Code enforcement officials must ensure the documentation includes the testing or evaluation performed on the lumber to support compliance with the building code requirements. Without the documentation, the use of European lumber products will require an engineering analysis and subsequent seal to verify code compliance.
This only applies to North Carolina.
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N.C. Building Code Council warns of the use of European lumber in North Carolina