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Residential Structural Code Forum Questions & Answers

 
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Fire, Life-Safety

Q:   Is it permissible to exit from a storeroom through a garage? What if the storeroom is converted to a bedroom later? (R 311.1)
A:  

Yes, only a bedroom is not allowed to exit into or through a garage. When a permit is taken out at a later date to convert this room in to a bedroom, the exit will be required to be changed. (Tri-County News Site Newsletter, September, 2001)


Q:   Is a pedestrian door (man-door) required from a garage?
A:  

No. The exception is in the manufactured dwelling code which requires two exit doors to the exterior. Many times a garage is attached to the manufactured home which will have one of the required exit doors exiting into the garage. When this happens, an additional "man-door" is required from the garage to the exterior. (Tri-County News Site Newsletter, September, 2001


Q:   I recently install a deadbolt on a front door, which requires the use of a key from both sides and the inspector turned it down, saying you can't use a deadbolt which requires the use of a key on the inside of the required exit door. Does this apply only to the required exit door or all doors exiting from the house? (R 310.1.4)
A:  

All egress doors shall be readily openable from the side from which egress is to be made, without the use of a key, special knowledge or tool. (Tri-County News Site Newsletter, September, 2001)


Q:   I put an egress window in a bedroom which met the 22" X 20" requirements in the code, why did the inspector turn it down? (R 310.1.1)
A:  

There are three requirements to which an egress must meet. First, depending on whether it is a grade floor window or not, the openable area of the window must either be 5 square feet or 5.7 square feet in area. Second, the clear opening height of the window must be a minimum of 22 inches and third, the minimum width of the opening must be 20 inches. An example of this would be, if you installed a grade floor, double hung window, with a clear opening height of the minimum 22 inches, the clear width area would be approximately 32 inches wide. (Formula: 22"X32.75" = 720.5 sq.in., 720sq.in./ 144sq.in. = 5.0 sq.ft.) [144sq.in. = 1sq.ft.] (Tri-County News Site Newsletter, September, 2001)


Q:   In the Dwelling Code, Section 308.4, # 8 refers to "glazing in railings above a walking surface." Is a stairway window considered to be part of the guardrail system when the bottom edge of the window is less than 36 inches above the stair or landing and the exterior grade is more than 30 inches below the stair or landing? Would there be a requirement for such a glazing to be tempered?
A:  

No, the window wall would not be considered the open side of a landing. The window may fall under a subsection of Section 308.4 that may require it to be tempered, but the scenario described above would not automatically trigger the requirement for safety glazing. (Tri-County One-and Two-Family Dwelling Code Forum, April 4, 2002)


Q:   When and if guardrails are required around a window well, what type of intermediate rail or ornamental closure would be acceptable under Section 315.4?
A:  

Vertical intermediates would not allow reasonable egress from the window well. See previous answer.
(Tri-County One-and-Two Family Dwelling Code Forum, January 15, 2003)


Q:   When are guardrails required around basement window wells? Section 315.3 indicates guardrails are required when a raised floor surface is more than 30 inches above the grade below.
A:  

The code panel determined that the One- and Two-Family Dwelling Code is vague on this issue and referred the question to the state code-interpretation committee.
(Tri-County One-and-Two Family Dwelling Code Forum, January 15, 2003)


Q:   I built a handrail/guardrail with newel posts at two points in the stairway that had winder-type steps in the middle of a straight run of stairs, and the inspector turned it down. He said that Exception 1, in Section R315.1, was to be used only for landings. The One- and Two-Family Dwelling Code, Section R315.1, Exception 1, states, "Handrails shall be permitted to be interrupted by a newel post at a turn." Do winder steps constitute a turn?
A:  

Yes. Newel posts are acceptable at winders.
(Tri-County One-and-Two Family Dwelling Code Forum, January 15, 2003)


Q:   Can a handrail change direction, for example, bump out from the wall 3" to 6" and be in code compliance?
A:  

Yes. As long as a handrail is continuous, it can offset 3 to 6 inches and still meet code. (Tri-County One and Two Family Code Forum, October 4, 2001)


Q:   Regarding a handrail on an exterior stairway, such as a deck, is a 2"x 6" plumb cut at either end acceptable in lieu of a return on the handrail?
A:  

No, Section R315.1 requires ends shall be returned or shall terminate in newel posts or safety terminals on all required handrails. (Tri-County One- and Two-Family Dwelling Code Forum, July 11, 2002)


Q:  

What is the correct point at which to measure rise at a sliding glass door the front of the threshold, the highest point of the threshold, or the interior finished floor level?

A:  

The correct point at which to measure rise at a sliding glass door is the top of the track or threshold. (Tri-County One-and Two-Family Dwelling Code Forum, April 4, 2002)


Q:   When the code forum addressed the question of the correct point at which to measure rise at a sliding glass door, were both Dwelling Code Sections R312 and R314.2.2 considered?
A:  

Yes, as below:

1.) Section R312 requires a floor or landing on the interior of all exterior doors and on the exterior side of the required exit door. This section allows an interior floor or landing to be not more than 1-1/2-inches lower than the top of the threshold. The exterior landing on the required exit door can be no more than 8 inches below the top of the threshold. Section R314.2.2: "The rise of a step or steps exclusive of a threshold shall not be less than 4 inches or greater than 8 inches."

On a non-required exit door (such as a sliding glass door), would this give an allowable height of 9-1/2-inches between the top of the threshold (1-1/2 inch threshold) and the top step or landing when the finish floor is 8-inches above the top step or landing and the door doesn't swing over the step or landing?

Answer: There are three separate conditions that must be considered;

Required exit landings: The exterior landing at the required exit door shall not be more than 8 inches below the top of the threshold provided the door does not swing over the landing. (Section R312.1.1)

Non-required exit doors with stairs: The rise of a step or steps exclusive of a threshold shall not be less than 4 inches or greater than 8 inches. (Section R314.2.2)

In addition to the code provisions stated above, the panel suggests the following:

Non-required exit exterior landings: Though this condition is not specifically addressed in the code, the consensus of the panel is that the rise above an exterior landing, exclusive of a threshold, shall not be greater than 8 inches. (Tri-County One- and Two-Family Dwelling Code Forum, October 10, 2002


Q:   If an addition is done on a manufactured home, am I required to install smoke alarms in the rest of the manufactured home per the Dwelling Code, Section R317.1.1?
A:  

No, Section R317.1.1 does not apply to an existing Manufactured Home. The Dwelling Codes unique provision of requiring smoke alarms to be installed in the entire building, when alterations, repairs or additions requiring a permit occur, is for buildings regulated by the Dwelling Code only.
(Tri-County One-and-Two Family Dwelling Code Forum, January 15, 2003)


Q:   If the approach to a stair run is at an angle, can the first tread be a winder?
A:  

Yes, provided the proper dimensions are maintained per Section R314.4.
(Tri-County One and Two Family Code Forum, October 4, 2001)


Q:   What are the code requirements for headroom at stairs and at landings?
A:  

(Ref. Code Section R314.3) The minimum headroom in all parts of the stairway shall not be less than 6 feet 8 inches measured vertically from the nosing of the tread or from the floor, landing or platform.
(Tri-County One and Two Family Code Forum, October 4, 2001)


Fire Rated Construction

Q:   Section R 302.1 is confusing as to whether eaves or overhangs need to be one-hour fire-resistive when the projection or overhang extends into the are a three feet from the property line. Is there a simple answer?
A:  

The intent of code is to have one hour protection. See illustration.
(Tri-County One-and-Two Family Dwelling Code Forum, January 15, 2003)


Q:  

Where exactly is "a minimum height of 16 inches measured vertically" measured from?

 

Background: Section R 602.8.1.1 of the Dwelling Code allows the use of unfaced fiberglass batt insulation to be used as fireblocking, provided that it "shall fill the entire cross section of the wall cavity to a minimum height of 16 inches measured vertically."

A:  

The 16" refers to the beginning of the area requiring fireblocking, not 16" from any specific space. The intent of the code is that the batting provide 16" of firestopping before penetration.
(Tri-County One and Two Family Structural Code Forum, January 3, 2002)


Q:   Where is this method of fireblocking used?

 

Background: Section R 602.8.1.1 of the Dwelling Code allows the use of unfaced fiberglass batt insulation to be used as fireblocking, provided that it "shall fill the entire cross section of the wall cavity to a minimum height of 16 inches measured vertically."

A:  

For example: in a coved ceiling the insulation should be from the bottom of the cove down; in a tub - from the top of the tub up.
(Tri-County One and Two Family Structural Code Forum, January 3, 2002)


Q:   Is it acceptable to use it in all locations requiring fireblocking?

 

Background: Section R 602.8.1.1 of the Dwelling Code allows the use of unfaced fiberglass batt insulation to be used as fireblocking, provided that it "shall fill the entire cross section of the wall cavity to a minimum height of 16 inches measured vertically."

A:  

No. See above answer.
(Tri-County One and Two Family Structural Code Forum, January 3, 2002)


Q:   What about the junction between a wall and the lower portion of a soffit?

 

Background: Section R 602.8.1.1 of the Dwelling Code allows the use of unfaced fiberglass batt insulation to be used as fireblocking, provided that it "shall fill the entire cross section of the wall cavity to a minimum height of 16 inches measured vertically."

A:  

 Yes, from the lower portion of the soffit down.
(Tri-County One and Two Family Structural Code Forum, January 3, 2002)


Q:   What about furred out basement walls?

 

Background: Section R 602.8.1.1 of the Dwelling Code allows the use of unfaced fiberglass batt insulation to be used as fireblocking, provided that it "shall fill the entire cross section of the wall cavity to a minimum height of 16 inches measured vertically."

A:  

Not unless the insulation effectively fills the cavity and is self-supporting and eliminates all concealed draft openings (both vertical and horizontal). Typically it will not work in furred walls because the insulation will not be self-supporting and will not meet the intent of the code.
(Tri-County One and Two Family Structural Code Forum, January 3, 2002)


Q:   Is fire blocking required around all bathtub drains? What if the tub is on the first floor? Or the tub is penetrating a floor/ceiling area? And what materials are allowed for such fire blocking?

 

Background: Section R 602.8.1.1 of the Dwelling Code allows the use of unfaced fiberglass batt insulation to be used as fireblocking, provided that it "shall fill the entire cross section of the wall cavity to a minimum height of 16 inches measured vertically."

A:  

ORSC, R602.8(4) requires fire blocking around vents, pipes and ducts. The lower level tub would not need fire blocking, but would require rodent-proofing according to P2613.12.2. For the floor/ceiling penetration, unfaced fiberglass insulation can be used for fire blocking, as required by Section R602.8.1, but it would not be required to be rodent-proof.

Iceyene insulation material


Q:   If I have a split stud wall on a 2-inch-by-6-inch plate, with a one-inch gap or space, can I fill it in with Iceyene insulation material? Is Iceyene an approved fire stop?

 

Background: Section R 602.8.1.1 of the Dwelling Code allows the use of unfaced fiberglass batt insulation to be used as fireblocking, provided that it "shall fill the entire cross section of the wall cavity to a minimum height of 16 inches measured vertically."

A:  

 Yes to both questions. (This is a clarification from the May 30 code forum)


Q:   In a two-family dwelling on a single lot, where the division between units is a wall (not located on a property line) and a ceiling/ 2nd floor assembly, both of which are fire separations, do interior bearing walls that require fire protection have to extend all the way to grade? The bearing walls have post and beam support in the crawl-space. Do those supports need to be fire-protected?
A:  

No to both questions. Section R 321.1 requires fire-resistance rating from the floor assembly to the underside of the roof sheathing. (Tri-County One-and Two-Family Dwelling Code Forum, April 4, 2002)


Q:   I am writing in hopes of receiving clarification on a code issue for two-family dwelling construction. My question is when stacking balconies, is it necessary for the 1-hour floor-ceiling fire separation to extend out to the balcony structure? Floor-ceiling assemblies within the dwelling unit require 1-hour separation, but the Dwelling Code, Section R321.1.1 is unclear as to whether or not this separation should continue where open decks or balconies create a "separation" between units.
A:  

No, the Dwelling Code does not require balconies to be of fire resistive construction. Section R321.1 only states that; €"Fire resistance rated floor-ceiling and wall assemblies shall extend to and be tight against the exterior wall, and wall assemblies shall extend to the underside of the roof sheathing." (Tri-County One- and Two-Family Dwelling Code Forum, July 11, 2002)


Q:   Section R302.1 of the dwelling code states: "Projections beyond the exterior wall shall not extend more than 12 inches into areas where openings are prohibited." Doesn't this translate to allow a 12-inch-maximum protected overhang at any protected wall built in the area 0 to 3-feet from the property line? One tri-county jurisdiction is interpreting this to mean that no projections or overhangs are allowed for walls built within two feet of the property line; in essence saying that projections are only allowed two to three feet from the property line. If this is the case, why doesn't the code simply state that no overhangs or projections are allowed closer than two feet from the property line?
A:  

See the illustration

(Tri-County One-and-Two Family Dwelling Code Forum, January 15, 2003)


Building Design

Q:   For wall-straightening purposes in a braced panel, is it permissible to notch the stud 1 1/2 inches x 3 1/2 inches and to add a strongback from the stud on each side as long as the flat strongback fills in the notch tightly and is face-nailed into the remainder of the stud? 
A:   This issue is not addressed in the Dwelling Code and is considered an alternate method of construction, which may be approved by the building official through Section R 104.11 in the Dwelling Code. (Tri-County One-and Two-Family Dwelling Code Forum, April 4, 2002)
Q:   If pony walls are limited to 4' tall without additional engineering requirements, should plan check require engineering just because the lot slope is greater than 4'? It seems that this is more appropriate to do when it actually occurs rather than holding up the plan check, unless the extreme is obvious.
A:  

Requirements for additional clarification or engineering should be determined during plan review and not during construction. Proper details or explanation should be included in the plans when the lot slope within the building envelope is greater than 4 feet or pony walls exceed engineer's design. (See the Tri-County residential checklist #11 & 15).
(See also Interpretive Ruling 01-03 http://www.bcd.oregon.gov/tag/interp/01-03.pdf
for more information on pony/cripple walls.)
(Tri-County One and Two Family Structural Code Forum, January 3, 2002)


Q:   Should one- and two-family dwellings have complete load paths?
A:  

Yes, if the prescriptive provisions are followed in the Dwelling Code, they can be assumed to have load paths. (Tri-County One-and Two-Family Dwelling Code Forum, April 4, 2002)


Q:   When an interior footing falls on a grade break, constructed with post & beam construction, can additional concrete be placed over the grade break to support the footing?
A:  

 The code does not specifically address this condition so a standard solution cannot be recommended. There are a number of variables with this condition that would affect the solution, such as height of the grade break, soil conditions, and load on the footing. Check with your local jurisdiction for approval of an alternate method.
(Tri-County One and Two Family Structural Code Forum, January 3, 2002)


Q:   What is required to accept load bearing cold-formed steel framing on a structure?
A:  

The Dwelling Code provides prescriptive requirements for cold-formed steel framing in Section 603. Section 603.1.1 also provides parameters for when these prescriptive provisions can be used. Section 603.1.1 states in part; "Steel walls constructed in accordance with the provisions of this section shall be limited to buildings subjected to a maximum design wind speed of 90 miles per hour Exposure C or 100 miles per hour Exposure A/B, a maximum ground snow load of 50 pounds per foot, and Seismic Zones 0, 1 and 2." Because all jurisdictions in the Tri-Co area are in seismic zone 3, all cold-formed steel framing is required to be engineered. (Tri-County One- and Two-Family Dwelling Code Forum, July 11, 2002)


Q:   Are insulation baffles required at foundation vents?
A:  

Some method of baffling the insulation to maintain the ventilation is required. However, there are other methods that would fulfill this requirement without the use of "baffles." (Tri-County One and Two Family Code Forum, October 4, 2001)


Q:   When is a perimeter foundation required?
A:  

Section R403.1 General. All exterior walls shall be supported on continuous solid or fully grouted masonry or concrete footings, wood foundations, or other approved structural systems which shall be of sufficient design to accommodate all loads. (Tri-County One- and Two Family Code Forum, April 23, 2003)


Q:   Are anchor bolts (j-bolts) required to be tied in their permanent place prior to concrete placement, or are they allowed to be "wet-set" after concrete placement is complete? Is it the same for residential and commercial?
A:  

The method of setting anchor bolts (j-bolts) is not specifically addressed in the One- and Two-Family Dwelling Code. Anchor bolts are not required to be tied in place and "wet setting" of anchor bolts is acceptable, unless disallowed by the engineer of record. (Tri-County One- and Two-Family Dwelling Code Forum, October 10, 2002)


Q:   Section R403.1.2 of the Dwelling Code refers to isolated footings and lists two criteria to be met. When the criteria are not met, there is no method for design of isolated footings. Using Section R104.11 of the Dwelling Code, an alternate method of design can be used. Using the Oregon Structural Specialty Code (OSSC), Section 1922.10.3, plain concrete is not permitted in seismic Zone 3. Is reinforcement required for all isolated footings that do not meet the criteria of Section R403.1.2 of the Dwelling Code? If the answer is yes, would the design criteria for reinforcement of the footings be derived from Section 1910.5 in the OSSC?
A:  

The Dwelling Code, in Table R502.3.4(2) allows an un-reinforced isolated footing of up to 30 inches x30 inches x15 inches. Compliance with specific performance-based provisions of the current edition of the OSSC in lieu of a prescriptive requirement of the Dwelling Code is permitted as an alternative. (Tri-County One-and Two-Family Dwelling Code Forum, April 4, 2002)


Q:   If pre-cast pier blocks can be used, are they required to meet the frost-depth requirements of Table R301.2(1)?
A:  

The code panel believes that Section R403.1.5 is the applicable code reference for this question; it requires a 12-inch depth on undisturbed soil.


Q:   Can pre-cast pier blocks be used for footings?
A:  

Yes, for decks that are less than 30 inches above grade at any point.


Q:   If I want to install fire sprinklers in my home, what code do I use?
A:  

The appropriate Standard to use is the 1999 NFPA 13D, "Installation of Sprinkler Systems in One and Two Family Dwellings and Manufactured Homes." (Tri-County News Site Newsletter, September, 2001)


Q:   Precisely what is/are the threshold(s) that trigger the requirement for fire sprinklers in a single-family residences?
A:  

The one and two family dwelling code has no requirements for fire sprinklers. Fire sprinkler systems are an acceptable alternate for meeting fire access and fire fighting water supply requirements. See OAR 918-480-100 through -120. (Tri-County One- and Two-Family Dwelling Code Forum, July 11, 2002)


Q:   Who then has the liability for the integrity of the trusses? The engineer whose work has been changed? The builder who complied with the jurisdiction? Or the jurisdiction?
A:  

See the above answer. Each jurisdiction determines its legal responsibility and/or liability. (Tri-County One and Two Family Code Forum, October 4, 2001)


Q:   If a licensed engineer has calculated the trusses, does the reviewer have the ability to demand changes?
A:  

Yes and no. The plans examiner has the ability to suggest changes to the engineering calculations and demand compliance relating to the building code and safety issues. For example, if an engineer submitted calculations for a truss design using a 10 lb. snow load, and the location of the dwelling required a 30 lb. snow load, the plans examiner could demand the engineer redesign the trusses to 30 lbs. The plans examiner can not demand changes in an accepted engineering methodology used by the engineer. (Tri-County One and Two Family Code Forum, October 4, 2001)


Q:   On occasion, a reviewer has disputed the wet stamped engineering on the truss design at plan review. What would be the reason for that?
A:  

There are three aspects to integrating a truss design with a home design: the load-bearing capacity of the individual truss members, gravity loads of the trusses carried through the structure to the foundation, and lateral load changes (if any) to the structure (for example with a change in roof pitch). The stamp of the truss engineer does not generally cover all three aspects, only the load-bearing capacity of the trusses themselves. In particular a change to a trussed design will often change the distribution of the gravity loads in a structure. It is not adequate to simply say the loads have moved to the exterior stem wall and footing. The jurisdiction must determine that all three aspects have been considered. (Tri-County One and Two Family Code Forum, October 4, 2001)


Q:   What must an exterior landing be made of?
A:  

At final inspection, code-regulated (egress) stairs shall terminate to a stable, even surface, for example: concrete, grass, bark dust, wood, gravel, or similar surfaces. (Tri-County One- and Two-Family Dwelling Code Forum, October 10, 2002)


Q:   Some jurisdictions require truss engineering to be provided for the framing inspector's review. Others require the truss engineering to be provided during plan review. Is there a standard?
A:  

Yes, the Tri-County One and two-family check list requires engineering submittals at the time of plan review. (Tri-County One and Two Family Code Forum, October 4, 2001)


Q:   For plans with engineered lateral-load-resisting elements, how should we apply the use of "drag struts" or "collectors" to the load-resisting elements such as shear walls or frames?
A:  

Plans with non-prescriptive (engineered) lateral-load-resisting elements must show sufficient details of load transfer. (Tri-County One-and Two-Family Dwelling Code Forum, April 4, 2002)

Exterior Landings


Q:  

Q. Should a special inspection be required for engineered design in one- and two-family dwellings for:

  • Reinforced concrete;
  • Epoxy anchors;
  • Steel moment frames;
A:  

 

A. Structures designed using the prescriptive path outlined in the Dwelling Code don't require special inspections. Engineered designs are considered alternate methods or materials and are used in lieu of the prescriptive requirements specified in the Dwelling Code. Section
R 108.1 allows the Oregon Structural Specialty Code (OSSC) to be used as a permitted alternate Section R 108.3 references Evaluation Service Reports. OSSC Section 1701.2 defines a special inspector as a qualified person who shall demonstrate competence, to the satisfaction of the building official. Section 1701.5 contains a list of when special inspecting is required.

  • Reinforced concrete, OSSC Section 1701.5 (1) exception 1 states in part "not required for group R-3 or U-1 provided the building official finds that a special hazard does not exist."
  • Epoxy anchors all evaluation service reports for epoxy anchors require special inspection.
  • Steel moment frame OSSC 1701.5 (5) requires special inspection on these welds.
    (Tri-County One- and Two-Family Dwelling Code Forum, July 11, 2002)

Q:   How much engineering design is required in the analysis of non-conventional portions of buildings that use the prescriptive requirements of the Dwelling Code?
A:  

The non-conventional structural/framing aspects of a normally prescriptive design needs to be engineered. In the case of lateral designs the amount of engineering should be sufficient to clearly indicate the design will be capable of accommodating all imposed loads and show how the non-conventional portions of the structure will connect to the conventional prescriptive portions. The Tri-county Consistency Committee will refer this question to the state's Structural Engineering Committee for further clarification. (Tri-County One- and Two-Family Dwelling Code Forum, July 11, 2002)


Q:   When an engineered design of a foundation is not required, are Dwelling Code Tables
R 404.1.1(1) or R 404.1.1(2) to be used?
A:  

Yes, the Dwelling Code Tables R 404.1.1(1) or R 404.1.1(2) are the only applicable provisions. Changing this would require a formal code-change submittal. (Tri-County One-and Two-Family Dwelling Code Forum, April 4, 2002)


Q:   Do other species of wood, not specifically identified in Section R323.1, need to meet the same requirements as stated for "Meranti" wood products found in Interpretive Ruling 93-92? (I.e., decking material imported from South America without a grading certificate.)
A:  

Yes. The Dwelling Specialty Code does not address this specific type of decking material, and, since the state no longer approves products, the use of this material would be an alternate method per R104.11. Materials not specifically prescribed by this code, may be approved by the local municipality, provided the materials being proposed are at least equivalent to those prescribed in the code. (Tri-County One- and Two Family Code Forum, April 23, 2003)


Q:   In a braced panel, when studs are bored, oversized and an additional stud is added per Section R 602.6 does the second stud need to be nailed through the sheathing?
A:  

Yes,and the nail spacing is to be the same as prescribed by the code.
(Tri-County One and Two Family Structural Code Forum, January 3, 2002)


Q:   I was told by an inspector that I had to apply roofing rated by the manufacturer to withstand 80-mph winds. The manufacturer of the roofing in question rates its 20-year, three-tab asphalt roofing at 60 mph. In order to get a rating of 80 mph, we would have to use 35- or 40-year rated shingles. I see 20-year asphalt shingles used all over the valley. Why am I required to use 35- or 40-year roofing? The code says to install asphalt roofing according to the manufacturer's installation instructions and the code. The code says to use six fasteners per shingle strip in high-wind areas along the coast and in areas of 80 mph or higher What's the answer?
A:  

Prescriptive requirements include 20-year, three-tab asphalt shingles fastened according to manufacturer's installation instructions. The One- and Two-Family Dwelling Code does not require shingle material to resist 80-mph winds.
(Tri-County One-and-Two Family Dwelling Code Forum, January 15, 2003)


Q:   Can the wooden structural panels of portal frames and other shear walls be pieced, or must they be a single piece to the extent possible?
A:  

The wooden structural panel sheathing used for portal frames, alternate bracing frames, or braced panels may be made up of pieces. The edges must be blocked and nailed in accordance with the edge nailing required for the particular use. (Tri-County One-and Two-Family Dwelling Code Forum, April 4, 2002)


Site and Building Moisture

Q:   Section 409.4 - regarding placement of a low-point drain. Can a low-point drain be on top of footing or should it be at ground level?
A:  

A low-point drain should be at ground level.
(Tri-County One-and-Two Family Dwelling Code Forum, January 15, 2003)


Q:   Can fiber cement board siding, such as Hardi plank, be installed with a concrete porch poured directly against the siding without flashing?
A:  

Product specifications should determine installation requirements. When specifications are not available, flashing should be required. (Code cite: Section R 323.1(5) and R 703.8(5) Water transfer to non-protected internal materials through weeping or capillary action should be carefully considered as well as the weather and decay resistance of the siding itself. (Tri-County One and Two Family Code Forum, October 4, 2001)


Q:   Can fiber cement board siding be installed on a post, which supports a porch, to within  inch of the concrete?
A:  

Follow manufacture's instructions. Additional product information may be obtained in the following evaluation reports: ICBO/ ER 5435, NER 405, NER 537. (Tri-County One and Two Family Code Forum, October 4, 2001)


Q:   Is a built-in toilet paper dispenser required in a residential bathroom? What about an accessible toilet room?
A:  

No, but a federally funded home may have specific accessibility requirements above and beyond the code requirements. (Tri-County News Site Newsletter, September, 2001)


Administration

Q:   In my jurisdiction the structural, mechanical and plumbing inspectors have been calling the boring and notching code sections 602.6, 602.6.1, 2608.2.1, 3113.11 and 3902.1. The contractors and subcontractors have told us we are the only jurisdiction in the state making such calls. Has the code changed and we were not notified or are these calls not being made?
A:  

The referenced code citations should be enforced by all jurisdictions. The code has not changed. Builders and representatives from local jurisdictions present at the meeting agreed that they were not aware of the referenced code provisions not being enforced. It was suggested that there be specific educational offerings to assist those jurisdictions who may not be following code. This question will also be addressed at the Plumbing, and at the Mechanical Code Forums.
(Tri-County One and Two Family Code Forum, October 4, 2001)


Q:  

When larger hold-downs are installed in foundation walls, why do some jurisdictions to question if the larger Simpson hold-downs are adequate? My general contractor installed HD6 hold-downs instead of HD5 hold downs and was held up on an inspection because the inspector wanted clarification from the engineer that the larger hold down is adequate.

A:  

A larger hold down does not guarantee an appropriate substitution. An inspector should be proficient in determining equivalency of substitute products, but very cautious when approving substitutions for hardware specified by the engineer. The contractor should obtain approved substitutions from the engineer prior to installation. These substitutions may be submitted at the time of plan review to allow field selection of an alternate hold down. The builder may also call the local jurisdiction for guidance prior to the installation of the product. (Tri-County One and Two Family Code Forum, October 4, 2001)


Q:   Does the dwelling code require inspections for non-structural concrete slabs, porches, driveways, and garage slabs?
A:  

 Section R105.2 exempts concrete slabs, driveways, sidewalks, and porches under 30 inches in height from permits and fees. Any of these items, which affect the structural integrity of a building may be inspected at the discretion of the building official according to Section R109.1.5. An example of work that may be exempt from permitting, but may require an inspection prior to concrete being poured would be a garage floor that requires a blockout for the furnace plenum and a barrier post. A jurisdiction may choose to inspect the site prior to pouring to ensure these items are in place and properly installed. (Tri-County One- and Two-Family Dwelling Code Forum, October 10, 2002)


Q:   Sometimes there are multiple permits for one job. When one permit is phoned in for an inspection, the inspectors take out all the permits and perform inspections on permits for which no inspection was requested in addition to the one which was requested. Staff is concerned that the other permits will not be inspected and that the contractor will cover the work. Is this appropriate? Should not all permits be phoned in separately for inspection?
A:  

No, it is not appropriate for inspectors to perform inspections on permits for which no inspection was requested. Yes, all permits should be phoned in separately for inspection; it is not up to the inspector to determine when the work is done; this is the responsibility of the contractor. When a contractor covers work that should be inspected it is a compliance issue that should be dealt with separately. (June 19 Tri-County Electrical Code Forum)


Q:   There seem to be inconsistent jurisdictional requirements regarding the degradation (including mold) of the building material due to moisture, on the 2 one-hour party wall of a row house. This is a common problem with row house construction during the winter months.
A:  

Materials should be protected from moisture during construction. (Tri-County One and Two Family Code Forum, October 4, 2001)


Q:   What should the building department do with plans submitted for a flat lot when the lot is sloped?
A:  

The building department should ask the applicant to provide or redraw plans so they clearly show the nature and extent of work to be performed. The approved Tri-Co One-and Two-family Dwelling Building Permit Application Checklist indicates that the plans must reflect the actual grade when the grade change is greater than 4 ft. at the building envelope. (Tri-County One- and Two-Family Dwelling Code Forum, July 11, 2002)


Other

Q:   Do you have a definition of a bedroom in the Dwelling Code? I'm currently building a house which has a specific room dedicated as a exercise/weight room and the inspector is calling it a bedroom and requiring me to install smoke alarms and an egress window. This room is not a bedroom and I feel it's wrong for the inspector to insist on these requirements. Doesn't a bedroom have to have a closet or something like that? This room doesn't have a closet and has a lot of special wiring done to accommodate the exercise equipment, which should make it obvious we plan on using it for a exercise/weight room.
A:  

The Dwelling Code does not define bedroom, so we need to go to the dictionary for a definition. The definition in the dictionary is; "bed-room: a room furnished with a bed and intended primarily for sleeping." (Tri-County News Site Newsletter, September, 2001)

 

It is not uncommon for someone to submit a set of plans which has an extra room designated as a den, office, weight room, library, etc. The primary use in these rooms is not intended for sleeping. However some contractors and/or home owners may designate a room as a den or office to circumvent the local SDC's (System Development Charges) or septic tank requirements or sometimes the original owner may use this room as it was designated on the plans, but the next owner has a larger family or their mother-law living with them and they end up using the "den" as a bedroom. The cost of smoke detection and appropriate egress windows is small compared to the cost of a human life, therefore it may be advantageous for the local jurisdiction to require these safety provisions, but the homeowner/contractor should be given the benefit of the doubt for the purpose of the SDC's. It is inappropriate for a jurisdiction to tell a homeowner/contractor how each room of their home will be used or classified. There are many times when it is obvious the room in question is not a bedroom, i.e. no closets, a door leading to the outside to be used as a office entrance, wall of shelving for library use, special provisions for exercise equipment, etc. These rooms need to be treated as designate on the plans, not based on speculated future use. If however, for example, this room had a closet in it and the only distinguishing difference is that it's called a "den" on the plan, then the requirements for smoke detectors and egress windows would be appropriate.

(Tri-County News Site Newsletter, September, 2001)


Q:   What are the code requirements for weep holes in masonry?
A:  

Weep holes are required to be a maximum of 33 inches on center. (See Section R703.7.4) (Tri-County One and Two Family Code Forum, October 4, 2001)


Q:   Is there a requirement that flashing must be installed on windows before siding is applied?
A:  

No, the Dwelling Specialty Code does not specifically address when the windows should be installed, whether before or after siding is applied. However, R703 requires that flashing be provided in the exterior wall envelope in a manner to prevent entry of water into the wall cavity or penetration of water to the building structural framing components. How this is accomplished depends on the contractor and the construction method. Verification of code compliance at time of inspection may be more subjective if the windows are installed after the siding and the proper flashing installation cannot be easily verified. Adherence to manufacturer's installation instructions is also essential.
R703.8 Flashing. Approved corrosion-resistive flashing shall be provided in the exterior wall envelope in such a manner as to prevent entry of water into the wall cavity or penetration of water to the building structural framing components. The flashing shall extend to the surface of the exterior wall finish and shall be installed to prevent water from reentering the exterior wall envelope. Approved corrosion-resistant flashings shall be installed at all of the following locations:
At top of all exterior window and door openings in such a manner as to be leakproof, except that self-flashing windows having a continuous lap of not less than 11/8 inches over the sheathing material around the perimeter of the opening, including corners, do not require additional flashing; jamb flashing may also be omitted when specifically approved by the building official.
- At the intersection of chimneys or other masonry construction with frame or stucco walls, with projecting lips on both sides under stucco copings.
- Under and at the ends of masonry, wood or metal copings and sills.
- Continuously above all projecting wood trim.
- Where exterior porches, decks or stairs attach to a wall or floor assembly of wood-frame construction.
- At wall and roof intersections.
- At built-in gutters.
(Tri-County One- and Two Family Code Forum, April 23, 2003)


Q:   Is there a code requirement for maximum moisture content for wood prior to covering?
A:  

No. The Dwelling Specialty Code is silent on the issue of moisture content of wood framing. (Tri-County One- and Two Family Code Forum, April 23, 2003)


Q:   I am working on a pilot program to develop wood-construction-materials drying as a building practice. Is there a code covering the highest allowable wood moisture equivalent in structural materials such as studs, plates, and headers before cover-up by the contractor?
A:  

No. The code does not specify moisture levels for building materials. Moisture content is purely a construction issue and cannot be called by an inspector. Those interested in addressing the issue through regulation need to work at the model code level. For more information about moisture content in wood, check the Web sites of the Canadian Wood Council, Western Wood Products, and the Southern Pine Council. (Tri-County Code Forum, March 30, 2005)