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A City inspector is requiring a certified letter from me as the AOR for a new 5-story Type III-A $47M luxury Multifamily-Retail development under construction.
They want the architect to certify that the Fire Retardant Lumber "FRT" will when construction dry-in is completed, the building will maintain a moisture content of less than 19% in FRT wood. 19% is the standard moisture content of kiln-dried manufacturer certified wood lumber.
In over 30 years, our firm has never had this request. Have you ever had such a request? If yes, how did you respond? We don't believe the Architect has the knowledge or responsibility to scientifically certify such a request for products over which we have no control or how a building is maintained.
Appreciate the wisdom of everyone's thoughts.
Larry H. Adams, Jr. AIA
955 North Pennsylvania Avenue
Winter Park, FL 32789 USA
w 407 . 740 . 8405
You are correct. If the AHJ want's a certification it has to come from the manufacturer.
Larry, I'd start be asking the inspector under what authority he is requesting certification. Is there a city or state regulation he can cite? There isn't anything in the building codes that I know of. Not being able to cite a reg may stop him. If there is a reg, I smell a rat and potential legal challenge from you or someone else being put in that position. Likely he is withholding the CO, unless I miss my guess. I little polite persuasion may keep the liars lawyers away.
In Connecticut where I practice, the State Building Department is helpful in guiding confused inspectors back on track. Your liability insurer may have suggestions and may be aware of similar requests and how they've seen them handled. They should be a great resource for these kinds of issues. In my experience they always rightly warn us not to use words like certify, guarantee, warranty or the like. We should not be compelled or obligated to go beyond the normal professional standard of care. As you said, you are not the expert, nor can you predict how the FRT will behave over the life of the building and the ravages of nature.
You may ask if he'd be satisfied with your spec and the approved shop drawings. That we seem fair. Best of luck,
What I am hearing you say is that the AHJ wants a certification from the AOR that upon project "dry-in" the installed FRT wood will show a moisture content of less than 19% and will maintain that moisture content, presumably forever. You point out that 19% is the standard moisture content of kiln-dried manufacturer certified wood lumber.
Following is reprinted from the 2006, 2009, 2012 INTERNATIONAL BUILDING CODE:
2303.2.8 Moisture content. Fire-retardant-treated wood shall be dried to a moisture content of 19 percent or less for lumber and 15 percent or less for wood structural panels before use. For wood kiln dried after treatment (KDAT), the kiln temperatures shall not exceed those used in kiln drying the lumber and plywood submitted for the tests described in Section 2303.2.5.1 for plywood and 2303.2.5.2 for lumber.
The 2006, 2009 and 2013 IBC also states:
2303.2.6 Exposure to weather, damp or wet locations. Where fire-retardant-treated wood is exposed to weather, or damp or wet locations, it shall be identified as "Exterior" to indicate there is no increase in the listed flame spread index as defined in Section 2303.2 when subjected to ASTM D 2898.
2303.2.7 Interior applications. Interior fire-retardant treated wood shall have moisture content of not over 28 percent when tested in accordance with ASTM D 3201 procedures at 92-percent relative humidity. Interior fire retardant-treated wood shall be tested in accordance with Section 2303.2.5.1 or 2303.2.5.2. Interior fire-retardant treated wood designated as Type A shall be tested in accordance with the provisions of this section.
In any case, the only certification that the AOR could reasonably make is that the project was designed in accordance with whatever version of the IBC was required by the AHJ at the time of project design. The certification you are apparently describing is for a physical condition that is patently beyond the knowledge and the expertise of the AOR. Furthermore, it is possible that such a certification would be uninsurable by the E&O carrier. If the AHJ is holding (or threatening to hold) the CO hostage in exchange for such a certification, you should advise your Client that only a testing laboratory and/or the lumber manufacturer could possibly make such a certification.
Phil L. Scott, Jr., AIA
Principal / CFO
3100 Alvin DeVane Blvd
Bldg. A, Suite 200-B | Austin, TX 78741
C: 512.423.1944 | T: 512.433.2513 | F: 512.477.9675
If a local inspector is making unreasonable demands, we've been advised to notify his/her supervisors and, if necessary, the state board. Our state has been known to revoke inspection privileges of municipalities with rogue inspectors until they all attended continuing education classes.
Charissa W. Durst, AIA, LEED AP
Hardlines Design Company
4608 Indianola Avenue
Columbus, OH 43214
Tel: (614) 784-8733
Fax: (614) 784-9336
Mobile: (614) 906-3113
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The contract documents are a signed & sealed record of your efforts to comply with applicable codes. The contractor's submittals are a supplemental documentation indicating what they intend to provide.This sounds like the request of an individual who has effectively demonstrated their lack of knowledge of professional service requirements, the limitations of liability and the construction process itself.