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Author Topic: Getting a Timberframe Home "Blessed" by building inspectors  (Read 2917 times)

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Offline jrouth

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Getting a Timberframe Home "Blessed" by building inspectors
« on: March 31, 2014, 10:11:46 AM »
Sometime in the next few years I see a timberframe home in my future - built with native timber on my property.   I haven't even gotten plans done yet, but I was wondering about the goverment hassle I may have ahead of me.   I have the feeling almost no one in my county does this.   Anyone been through the process of getting a home done this way blessed by the inspectors?  Is my best bet to take whatever drawings I eventually get done to a local engineering firm and having them sign off so they could have a dialog with the county if needed?   I may be worrying about nothing, but having worked with these guys before I can anticipate it not being easy.

Offline timberwrestler

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Re: Getting a Timberframe Home "Blessed" by building inspectors
« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2014, 10:25:08 AM »
I've been through the process many times, without too much difficulty from building inspectors.  Of course, it's a little different every time as the inspectors have their own wants and desires.  I don't know whether NC has any kind of native wood provision in it's building code, but if it does, then that can make things easier.  It's definitely worth running your plans by an engineer, both to appease the inspector, and to check your design.  Inspectors love it, because it takes the liability off of them.  I would generally avoid handing the plans to just any engineer, and stick with a specialty timber engineer, who is familiar with the traditional connections, and using (typically) un-graded wood.  A local engineer will likely be excited by the project because they're tired of the same old stuff, and then will specify slapping steel plates all over everything.  You can find a specialty timber engineer through the Timber Frame Engineering Council.  A preemptive way to approach the whole thing is just ask the inspector what he/she would want.

Offline danreed76

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Re: Getting a Timberframe Home "Blessed" by building inspectors
« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2014, 10:57:09 AM »
Timberwrestler hit it on the head.  We're in the process of building our home, and have run everything through a structural engineer; the county inspectors have been great to work with since we're doing lots of homework and asking lots of questions up front.  For everything that we've done that falls outside the realm of the building code (pretty much everything to this point except septic and plumbing), we've simply provided a letter from the PE indicating that he has reviewed the design, inspected the work, and it meets all requirements.
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Offline bigshow

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Re: Getting a Timberframe Home "Blessed" by building inspectors
« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2014, 04:46:26 PM »
Same experience as noted above.  My building inspector was anxious to the see end result, just wanted an engineer stamp and a copy of it.  Easy.  Since no one else is saying anything, the engineer I used charged $600.


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Offline shinnlinger

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Re: Getting a Timberframe Home "Blessed" by building inspectors
« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2014, 07:31:37 PM »
If it were me, I would start with the inspector.   Ask what it would take. Foster a good relationship.    An engineer  signing off is usually a good thing but it might be unnecessary.   Another thing is actually look at what the codes say for yourself.    I was told I couldn't put a steeple on my shop in oregon, but when i looked the statute up myself, steeples were exempt from the clause the inspector claimed.  when I showed him that (with an engineered drawing) I was able to do it.    Lots of 200 yo old native timber frames demonstrate their longevity. 
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Offline Magicman

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Re: Getting a Timberframe Home "Blessed" by building inspectors
« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2014, 09:38:20 PM »
Welcome to the Forestry Forum, jrouth.   8)
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Offline logman

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Re: Getting a Timberframe Home "Blessed" by building inspectors
« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2014, 11:19:52 PM »
Check with your building department but I think an engineer stamp is required in NC.  I know it was here in Ashe County.  Once my drawings were stamped the building inspector
didn't really care anything about the timber frame.  Here in Ashe you can use timbers from logs from your own property but I bought logs for mine and it was never questioned.  If they asked I was just going to tell them they came from my property. 
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Offline jrouth

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Re: Getting a Timberframe Home "Blessed" by building inspectors
« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2014, 07:49:57 AM »
Thanks to all - makes me feel better!

Offline jwilly3879

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Re: Getting a Timberframe Home "Blessed" by building inspectors
« Reply #8 on: April 05, 2014, 09:05:46 AM »
I am the Building Inspector in a small Adirondack town and the advice given above, to start with the code office in your jurisdiction, is right on. You can save yourself both time and money. I often see plans that are way above what is needed. Case in point, a homeowner came in with a set of plans for a 26x30 garage drawn and stamped by architect, nice plans but way above what was required. They paid over $3000 for a standard garage, sketches and framing list would have been fine.

Offline dustyjay

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Re: Getting a Timberframe Home "Blessed" by building inspectors
« Reply #9 on: April 05, 2014, 12:17:20 PM »
I just got my building permit last week, based on site plan, elevations, and framing plan all based off my work on sketchup. I've run the plans past an engineer and two experienced timberframers, so I'm starting to think they'll hold up. 
 The inspector does not want to come out until framing's up and electric/ plumbing is roughed in. I thought I'd see a lot more of him. What makes me nervous now is making a mistake early on and having to correct it late in the game. To that end I'm talking to anyone and everyone who's been through it around here.
Proper prior planning prevents pith poor performance

Offline shinnlinger

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Re: Getting a Timberframe Home "Blessed" by building inspectors
« Reply #10 on: April 05, 2014, 09:19:26 PM »
Dusty,

My experience with TF's up here is no problem but It really can vary quite a bit depending on the inspector/town.  That said, an owner trying to work it out with an inspector vs a contractor yelling about how it is gunna be is usually a different story.  If your willing to live in it they seem to be way less picky and if you already have it up and roughed in I can't imagine they would have you change much up here in "live free or die" NH.

Dave
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34 horse kubota L-2850, Turner Band Mill, '84 F-600,
living in self-built/milled timberframe home

Offline Jim_Rogers

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Re: Getting a Timberframe Home "Blessed" by building inspectors
« Reply #11 on: April 06, 2014, 08:59:10 AM »
The only thing I can think of to say is make sure your timbers are grade inspected before you cut any joints.
If your inspector says they have to be. You should ask him, before you order.
If your local mill doesn't have the ability to stamp them, then hire a traveling grader to inspect them first.
We at the timber framer guild engineering council have heard horror stories about frames being up and joints all cut and then the inspector requires the timbers being grade stamped, as they weren't stamped before the frame was cut.
NeLMA will not grade stamp any timbers with joints cut in them. The mortises are considered holes and/or any modification of the of the raw timber drastically changes the grade rules that they can apply.
There are other solutions but it costs more money to bring in another traveling grader, who will charge even more then NeLMA.

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Offline Peter Drouin

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Re: Getting a Timberframe Home "Blessed" by building inspectors
« Reply #12 on: April 06, 2014, 05:10:02 PM »
He might want it graded, Are you cutting it out yourself?
And is it hard or soft wood?
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Offline dustyjay

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Re: Getting a Timberframe Home "Blessed" by building inspectors
« Reply #13 on: April 06, 2014, 08:34:11 PM »
Thanks for your insights folks. I'll be making a few calls tomorrow.
1) Building inspector- do timbers need to be grade stamped?
2) Sawmill milling my timbers- can they have it grade stamped or do I need to have an inspector come in?
3) Jim Rogers- Where do I find a traveling grader, if needed?

I am going to mill the studs for an external wall and all internal wall framing, but am having the beams milled elsewhere. I trust a long term sawyer's ability more than my own.

Fortunately at this point I've got some time. The ground's too wet to start digging a foundation yet.
Proper prior planning prevents pith poor performance

Offline shinnlinger

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Re: Getting a Timberframe Home "Blessed" by building inspectors
« Reply #14 on: April 06, 2014, 09:10:28 PM »
Jay,

I have worked with inspectors on beam grading before.  They can see knots and defects as well as you or an expensive grader can.  If you have the specs on what makes a good post vs a cross beam you may be good to go.  A big knot in the bottom middle of tie beam isn't good, but you may be able to use that stick as a post.  Don P's calcs in the tool box can help you with this.  I also don't see why you wouldn't mill all your stuff if you can get quality trees.  When in doubt, over size.  If your gunna build it, overbuild it, when in doubt, build it stout.  If a 6x6 will suffice, make it an 8x8.

I dont know if I would suggest to the inspector that you might want to get your timbers graded as you may then have to do it.  I can't believe Charlestown is all that uptight about this, I would run the numbers and specs on the spans/species of what you want to do and then just double check with the guy that it is ok.

Dave
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34 horse kubota L-2850, Turner Band Mill, '84 F-600,
living in self-built/milled timberframe home

Offline dustyjay

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Re: Getting a Timberframe Home "Blessed" by building inspectors
« Reply #15 on: April 07, 2014, 05:49:52 AM »
Rather than calling the inspector, I will call several of the local timber framers. Thanks for the words of caution Shinnlinger. As for supplying the timbers I am concerned not only for quality, but for time. I'd rather spend the summer cutting joints. If I saw all summer I'm not sure I'd get the frame up and wrapped for winter. This way my timbers will be ready when I need them, and all cut at near the same time.
Proper prior planning prevents pith poor performance

Offline Peter Drouin

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Re: Getting a Timberframe Home "Blessed" by building inspectors
« Reply #16 on: April 09, 2014, 06:35:36 AM »
The guy cutting your beams should be able to grade them too.
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Offline Jim_Rogers

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Re: Getting a Timberframe Home "Blessed" by building inspectors
« Reply #17 on: April 09, 2014, 07:56:35 AM »
1) Building inspector- do timbers need to be grade stamped?
2) Sawmill milling my timbers- can they have it grade stamped or do I need to have an inspector come in?
3) Jim Rogers- Where do I find a traveling grader, if needed?


First of all, if you haven't called your building inspector, rephrase your question. If you ask him "do my timbers need to be grade stamped?" He's most likely going to say yes, as you have set him up to require a "yes".
Ask him if you get your timbers from "mill X" located in "whatever town" will they be ok to use? Leave it open so he can say, "I know those guys, and their timbers are fine" or that they need to be grade stamped.

If those guys don't have a grade stamp, then you'll need to call NeLMA (new england lumberman's association). Do a google search for them and you should be able to find them. They will want to look at each timber going into the frame, all four sides and both ends. So the mill yard will need to have them all laid out so that they can be viewed, when the inspector arrives. After, or as he passes them they can be stacked by the forklift driver, and he can move on. Should one not pass then the forklift man should move it off to another pile.
This is what I have done here at my sawmill yard.
Your stock list of timbers, should tell the inspector which ones you'll be using as posts, beams, and rafters. Grade rules for posts can be a bit different then for rafters and beams.
You'll pay a one day rate for him to drive over to your sawyer's yard, grade the timbers, drive home and prepare a document you take to your building inspector that says he inspected them and they sorted out the ones that didn't. And all that were left were ok. This should satisfy the building inspector.
Jim Rogers
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Offline dustyjay

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Re: Getting a Timberframe Home "Blessed" by building inspectors
« Reply #18 on: April 09, 2014, 07:14:20 PM »
To keep the taste of foot out of my mouth I did not cal the building inspector first, but two timber framers I know, and then the mill.

 I had known about my town's specific ordinance:
"7.5.3 Exceptions to National Code Requirements
 Notwithstanding the provisions of BOCA, a property owner may utilize their own native lumber, either softwood or hardwood, of comparable dimensions and load bearing capacity, in construction on their own property. A statement shall be included on the building permit, noting that the lumber used was not commercially graded. Native lumber milled for sale requires certification and stamping, per RSA 434:59."


And I learned about the NH Native Lumber Law, more info to be found at:
     extension.unh.edu/resources/files/Resource003216_Rep4656.pdf

Armed with that knowledge I talked to the inspector tonight. He knows my mill, said "They kick out lumber that would pass NeLMA inspection." So I should not run into that problem, at least. Thanks for the warning though Jim. I'd hate for a decision late in the process to invalidate lots of hard work.
Proper prior planning prevents pith poor performance

Offline dustyjay

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Re: Getting a Timberframe Home "Blessed" by building inspectors
« Reply #19 on: April 09, 2014, 07:17:30 PM »
In the last ten years my mill folks have certified grading on exactly 5 frames, out of hundreds. Those five either went to Nantucket, or to municipalities for construction of public buildings. It does not seem to be an issue locally at all.

That said, I am sure anybody can take the best beams and build an unsafe frame, and I'm sure a crafty framer could do well with less than great beams.
Proper prior planning prevents pith poor performance


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