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AHJ Requesting Signed/Sealed Certification from Architect for Wood Lumber Moisture Content

  • 1.  AHJ Requesting Signed/Sealed Certification from Architect for Wood Lumber Moisture Content

    Posted 02-09-2018 15:41

    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 Adams

     

     

    ACi LA Blue (2)

    Larry H. Adams, Jr. AIA

    Founding Partner

    ACi Architects

    955 North Pennsylvania Avenue

    Winter Park, FL 32789 USA

    www.acistudios.com

    w 407 . 740 . 8405

     

     

     



  • 2.  RE: AHJ Requesting Signed/Sealed Certification from Architect for Wood Lumber Moisture Content

    Posted 02-12-2018 17:23
    Politely ask him to identify the requirement in the Florida Building Code to do so. Absent a reason to do so being a part of the FBC, there should be no such letter.

    ------------------------------
    John Barley II FAIA
    Managing Partner
    The Barley Consulting Group LLP
    Jacksonville FL
    ------------------------------



  • 3.  RE: AHJ Requesting Signed/Sealed Certification from Architect for Wood Lumber Moisture Content

    Posted 02-13-2018 17:43
    ​All,

    Thanks for your responses and professional insights.

    Due to extreme market demands on development growth here in FL, ACi Architects is finding complete overload, fear and hiring stresses on AHJ building inspectors.

    I'm in total agreement w/all of you. We are politely standing firm on this issue w/our AHJ inspector.





    ------------------------------
    Larry Adams AIA
    Founding Partner
    ACi Architects
    Winter Park FL
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: AHJ Requesting Signed/Sealed Certification from Architect for Wood Lumber Moisture Content

    Posted 02-12-2018 17:26
    Our liability insurance providers stress NEVER to certify or warranty anything.  Anytime. Anyplace. Don't do it.

    ------------------------------
    Judith Repp AIA
    Principal
    JUDITH REPP ARCHITECTS
    Evergreen CO
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: AHJ Requesting Signed/Sealed Certification from Architect for Wood Lumber Moisture Content

    Posted 02-12-2018 18:03
    In my 35 plus years of experience, I have never heard an Inspector ask for this. As Architect's we are not responsible for means and methods. The lumber manufacturer is responsible for supplying all the certs as called out on the plans and specifications. You may want to check with your E&O Carrier as to your legal exposure on means and methods. Special Inspectors also have equipment that can measure moisture content.
    Good luck.

    ------------------------------
    John Valle AIA
    Principal Architect, Owner
    JVARCHITECTURE
    Lake Forest CA
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: AHJ Requesting Signed/Sealed Certification from Architect for Wood Lumber Moisture Content

    Posted 02-12-2018 18:03
    Section 2303.2.8 of the FBC (2017 Edition), states that fire-retardant-treated (FRT) lumber be dried to a moisture content of 19 percent. No where does it state that the moisture content must be maintained throughout the life-cycle of the building.

    You might counter their request with one of your own: Ask that they certify that the building is 100% free of code-related defects upon issuance of a certificate of occupancy. I'm being facetious, but it's not any different that what they are asking of you, and they would likely refuse ti do so if they were asked.

    I would suggest asking your professional liability insurer and attorney to develop a response or to modify the language of the requested certification to something that is more palatable.

    ------------------------------
    Ronald Geren AIA, FCSI, CCS, CCCA
    Principal
    RLGA Technical Services
    Scottsdale AZ
    ------------------------------



  • 7.  RE: AHJ Requesting Signed/Sealed Certification from Architect for Wood Lumber Moisture Content

    Posted 02-12-2018 18:21
    It sounds like you are being asked to certify something that is beyond your control, even if it was in an area with which you felt you had expertise. I'm curious about the timing of the request. Was it on plan approval or is it the field inspector throwing this at you at the last minute? I've seen some pretty loose interpretations of 1705.1.1 giving the AHJ the ability to essentially require special inspections of anything they want. That's not what the code actually says, but it seems to be the way it is interpreted by the AHJ.

    ------------------------------
    Steven Hovland AIA
    Associate Principal
    Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc.
    Emeryville CA
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: AHJ Requesting Signed/Sealed Certification from Architect for Wood Lumber Moisture Content

    Posted 02-12-2018 18:35
    Larry,
    A few points I would consider:
    1. I don't think the Flordia Building Code requires any Letter of Certification from an architect for anything. I would ask the inspector for a code reference.
    2. I am pretty sure your insurance company would go ballistic if they knew you were certifying products. I have been told that during seminars.
    3. I doubt your contract with the owner requires you to do that i.e. you are not being compensated to certify anything.

    I have been asked for letters to inspectors but I always make sure I use phrases like "during our observation"(as opposed to supervision) and"to the best of our knowledge" and would never use the word certified, that's not what architects do.

    ------------------------------
    Robert Moore AIA
    Robert E. Moore Architect
    Monroe NC
    ------------------------------



  • 9.  RE: AHJ Requesting Signed/Sealed Certification from Architect for Wood Lumber Moisture Content

    Posted 02-12-2018 19:11

    You are correct.  If the AHJ want's a certification it has to come from the manufacturer.






  • 10.  RE: AHJ Requesting Signed/Sealed Certification from Architect for Wood Lumber Moisture Content

    Posted 02-12-2018 20:01
    It's not your responsibility as architect to attest to the properties of materials used during construction. You might have your E & O broker step in and tell them you aren't allowed to provide such "certification," if the inspector continues to insist.

    Maybe the city inspector needs to be educated? The certification would come from the manufacturer. Or ask for a different inspector...

    ------------------------------
    Betsy Nickless, CDFA
    Mark Scheurer Architect, Inc.
    Newport Beach CA
    ------------------------------



  • 11.  RE: AHJ Requesting Signed/Sealed Certification from Architect for Wood Lumber Moisture Content

    Posted 02-12-2018 20:07

    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,



    ------------------------------
    Michael Mallardi AIA
    Vice President of Architecture
    CPG Architects
    Stamford CT
    ------------------------------



  • 12.  RE: AHJ Requesting Signed/Sealed Certification from Architect for Wood Lumber Moisture Content

    Posted 02-16-2018 19:47
    As a licensed professional we are only responsible for the design, not means and methods, testing or anything beyond our observations during construction.  If the code official would like tests performed you can request the owner hire a testing agency to provide results.

    There are so many variables that are not in your control.
    -material purchased
    -material storage
    -installation means and methods
    -installation and commissioning of HVAC

    In addition once the building is complete, you have no control over how the building will operate the building.

    As noted previously your insurer is a great resource for these types of issues.

    ------------------------------
    Peter Leoschke AIA
    Senior Project Manager
    ------------------------------



  • 13.  RE: AHJ Requesting Signed/Sealed Certification from Architect for Wood Lumber Moisture Content

    Posted 02-21-2018 22:32
    Based on past experience, I agree with Mr. Malardi.

    --
    Bob Hiegel
    Bob Hiegel, Architect, P.A.
    Phone (479) 967-5044
    Fax (479) 967-0223
    Mobile (479) 970-2578





  • 14.  RE: AHJ Requesting Signed/Sealed Certification from Architect for Wood Lumber Moisture Content

    Posted 02-13-2018 09:28

    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.

     

    1510761928167_PastedImage

     

    Phil L. Scott, Jr., AIA

    Principal / CFO

    GSC Architects

    3100 Alvin DeVane Blvd

    Bldg. A, Suite 200-B  |  Austin, TX 78741

    C: 512.423.1944   |   T: 512.433.2513  |  F: 512.477.9675

    www.gscarchitects.com

     






  • 15.  RE: AHJ Requesting Signed/Sealed Certification from Architect for Wood Lumber Moisture Content

    Posted 02-15-2018 09:39

    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

    President

    Hardlines Design Company

    4608 Indianola Avenue

    Columbus, OH  43214

    Tel: (614) 784-8733

    Fax: (614) 784-9336

    Mobile: (614) 906-3113

    web: www.hardlinesdesign.com

     

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  • 16.  RE: AHJ Requesting Signed/Sealed Certification from Architect for Wood Lumber Moisture Content

    Posted 02-13-2018 10:16
    Don't Do it!
    As said by others  your E-O carrier will shoot you.  They may have a solution , so call them.
    There  should have been some product literature concerning their should have been  literature  and  paperwork from the  manufacturer/lumber mill  concerning the delivered moisture content.
    If they need  a documentation  have the owner hire a testing agency to measure the moisture contents after dry-in.
    Submit that paperwork.

    ------------------------------
    David DeFilippo AIA
    Architect
    Tsoi/Kobus & Associates, Inc.
    Boston MA
    ------------------------------



  • 17.  RE: AHJ Requesting Signed/Sealed Certification from Architect for Wood Lumber Moisture Content

    Posted 02-13-2018 17:33
    Simple.
    Just say 'no'.
    If he/she insists, say you want to meet together with the Building Official.
    This type of 'request' usually comes from someone that either does not know better, or is accustomed to demanding things that not required (abusing authority with an attitude).
    As others have said:  unless he can show you a code cite or local regulation, do not even think about complying.
    If there is no code cite, and they still both insist, the next visit should be with the municipality's attorney.
    Architects too often bend over (are afraid to stand up) when confronted with such situations.
    The end result is more time/money spent by someone (you, the owner and/or the contractor), without justification.
    The fact that you are already spending time on this dialogue is a 'loss' to you.
    Most A/E's and contractors are afraid to rock the boat by challenging the inspector, plan checker, etc.
    In my experience that is exactly the reverse of what happens.
    When you stand up for yourself, and go to the 'boss', they will be a little more careful the next time, and will treat you with some professional respect.

    ------------------------------
    Howard I. Littman, AIA, Emeritus
    Forensic Architect, Expert Witness
    Agoura Hills, CA
    ------------------------------



  • 18.  RE: AHJ Requesting Signed/Sealed Certification from Architect for Wood Lumber Moisture Content

    Posted 02-14-2018 17:55

    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.



    ------------------------------
    Michael Czap AIA
    Director of Lean Design
    BRPH Architects & Engineers, Inc.
    Arlington TX
    ------------------------------



  • 19.  RE: AHJ Requesting Signed/Sealed Certification from Architect for Wood Lumber Moisture Content

    Posted 02-14-2018 17:43
    Unless this person is the official for the state department of codes and standards, I would suggest calling his manager at the state level and getting a determination of readability for the inspectors request.

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    Thomas Singer
    Millburn NJ
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