Bill Christenson was a Case Manager for CDR covering residential and commercial construction, analyzing building systems and specializing in concrete issues.

Bryce Given is manager of operations for CDR.  He is certified by the Roofing Consultants Institute as a Registered Waterproofing Consultant and a Registered Exterior Wall Consultant.

Mike Showalter is the founder and President of CDR.  He is also a licensed real estate broker and a former general contractor.

Janet Showalter is the Vice President of CDR.  She is also a licensed real estate broker and is general manager of CDR.

The CDR Bulletin

Articles on best-practices, safety, contractor responsibilities, and other issues important to the construction industry.


Staples in underlayment construction

May 2015

by Michael Showalter

The use of pneumatically driven staples has grown exponentially since the 1970s when compressors and nail and staple guns were introduced into the construction industry. Staples are frequently used in everything from interior cabinet box construction to application of the exterior shingles.  What is frequently ignored is that staples vary in metal composition, gauge, crown width and length.  The variety of staple types may seem confusing but there is no one-size-fits-all in construction.

Recently we were asked to defend a staple manufacturer when it was alleged that their staples were withdrawing from a substrate and damaging the finished flooring.  In evidence was American Plywood Association (APA) rated subflooring and underlayment with staples that appeared to be backing out.

In the above referenced case, installers had used narrow crown staples to attach the APA underlayment prior to installing the finished floor. Most were apparently following the Component Panel Association (CPA) technical bulletins for Particle Board Underlayment Installation.  The CPA does allow the use of staples to attach particleboard underlayment, as long as the panel subfloors are at least 19/32” thick with a minimum of 32/16 panel span rating (if not glued).

CPA dictates that “galvanized, divergent, chisel point power driven staples may be used to attach particleboard underlayment”. Staples will vary in gauge, length and crown depending upon the thickness of the underlayment. Staples are to be placed 3 inches on center around the perimeter and 6 inches on center throughout the rest of the panel.

Conversely, in the mid-1980s the APA stopped giving guidance or recommendation to use staples to attach plywood or OSB panels.  The APA Engineered Wood Construction Guide gives instructions as to the selection of APA rated underlayment and the required method of fastening.  Nowhere in this manual is there mention of staples.  The use of staples to attach APA rated panels is not recommended nor advised.



Homeowners Acting as General Contractor

November 2014

by Bill Christenson

There are many reasons why a homeowner may choose to act as the general contractor on a repair or remodel project for their home or even new construction of a residence.  Often times the thought of saving the contractor’s overhead and markup expense warrants the decision, sometimes it’s the individual challenge to build it yourself.  Whatever the reason, homeowners acting as the general contractor need to be aware of the potential liability they are accepting for the proper jobsite safety of all people working on or visiting the project site. 

Construction safety in the State of Washington is governed by the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act (WISHA) addressed in the Revised Code of Washington (RCW), Chapter 49.17 and the Washington Administrative Code (WAC), Chapter 296-155 Safety Standards for Construction Work.  The rules and regulations for construction safety are stringent and somewhat complex with the underlying intent to provide a safe work place for all workers (employees).   RCW 49.17.060 stipulates that each employer shall furnish to each of his or her employees a place of employment free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause serious injury or death to his employees.  The RCW as it relates to homeowners acting as general contractors defines “employer” in part as “any person, firm, corporation, partnership, business trust, legal representative or other business entity which engages in any business, industry, profession, or activity in this state and employs one or more employees or who contracts with one or more persons, the essence of which is personal labor of such person or persons” (underlines added). 

Homeowners might be issued citations for violating safety and health requirements whenever they are functioning as general contractors and it is determined that the essence of the contract establishes the homeowner as controlling or directing the contractor’s day-to-day activities, e.g. setting work hours or controlling how payment/compensation occurs.  Additionally, a homeowner’s potential liability for any injury incurred by an employee or visitor while on the homeowner’s project site is a concern.  These individuals may also be seen as social or business invitees in the eye of the law and may fall under the umbrella of the homeowner’s liability.  It would be prudent for a homeowner wishing to act as the general contractor to first seek the advice of an insurance broker and an attorney to get the proper contracts and insurance coverage in place.

Homeowners need to be aware of their role and responsibilities if acting as a general contractor.  The Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s Directive 1.19 Homeowners as General Contractors (July 3, 2012) can be reviewed at


Insurance Repair Estimates

June 2014

by Bryce Given

A fire, water leak or other damaging event to a building can be very disruptive and traumatic, and the repairs can be expensive.  In such times the help of knowledgeable consultants can give clarity, direction and assurance that important issues are being addressed. 

 The insurance provider’s adjuster will document the conditions and extent of the observable damage to the areas affected by the damaging event.  Based upon insurance coverage, the adjuster will present a written estimate calculating the amount of reimbursement for the repairs.  The estimate often shows the actual cash value (ACV), reimbursable cash value (RCV), deductibles, or all three.  

Many providers use an estimating program known as Xactimate.  Xactimate was developed for the insurance industry for the purpose of  standardizing the estimation of costs for repairs.  Xactimate unit prices are updated periodically to account for changes in labor and material costs. 

Providers often use estimating service companies to create the Xactimate for the loss reimbursement.  Information provided on the Xactimate can be overwhelming, as it has hundreds of line item entries. 

This often requires an independent experienced and trained consultant  to evaluate whether or not all issues are covered, including updating the structure to meet current Building Code and Energy Code requirements.  The consultant’s understanding of the means and methods of construction is invaluable when reviewing these Xactimates. He or she can provide a critical evaluation to determine a complete scope of recommendations for repairs and whether or not the Xactimate covers that scope.  

Should you ever be faced with having to review a Xactimate, consider having it reviewed by an independent construction consultant. 



2012 Washington State Energy Code

January, 2014

By Bill Christenson

The 2012 Washington State Energy Code (WSEC) went into effect July 1, 2013.  This new WSEC is now based on the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code with State amendments.  For residential construction this means better air sealing of the exterior envelope, more efficient windows, tighter sealing of duct work, and more high-efficacy lighting fixtures, plus many other changes from the 2009 code. 

As part of the building air tightness requirements, the code now allows the local building official to require an approved third party to inspect all components of air barrier system and verify compliance.  Air leakage testing using the blower door method is also required after visual inspection of all sealing components.  Test reports must be provided to the code official.  Here again the local building official can require the testing be performed by an approved third party. 

Duct work, air handlers and furnaces are all required to be sealed for air leakage.  Similar to the 2009 WSEC, duct work is required to be leak tested by a qualified technician.  Allowable duct leakage thresholds are stricter in the current code.  Replacement of an existing furnace, air handling unit or air conditioning unit also triggers the duct testing requirement of the duct system connected to the new or replacement equipment. 

Building insulation requirements at floors, walls and ceilings are consistent with the 2009 code, although the necessity for continuous exterior insulation on walls has been reduced to four counties in eastern Washington versus twelve per the 2009 code.  Window efficiency requirements have been increased in the 2012 code calling for a U-factor of 0.30, up from the prior U-factor of 0.34.  Also, the code mandates that a minimum of 75% of permanently installed lamps in lighting fixtures shall be high-efficacy lamps, up from 50% in the 2009 code. 

Section R406 of the code addresses additional energy efficiency requirements and mandatory energy credit criteria.  A typical single family residence (1500 sf – 5000 sf) now requires 1.5 energy credits in lieu of 1.0 credits previously.

Be informed and understand how the new code effects your project.  You can view the entire 2012 WSEC for residential construction at:



Select Changes in the 2012 WA State Building Code

October 2013

by Mike Showalter

The 2012 Washington State Building Code has been in effect since July 1, 2013.  Our last Bulletin gave an overview of the revision process and some examples of what to expect in the new code.  Following are select revisions updated from the 2009 IRC.

R507 Decks Modification:  All deck provisions have been relocated to a new section. Provisions related to placement of bolts and lags for deck ledge attachment to the band joist have been revised to correlate to the NDS. 

R612.3 Testing and labeling exceptions:  1. Decorative glazed openings; 2. Custom exterior windows and doors manufactured by a small business shall be exempt from all testing requirements in Section R612 provided they meet the applicable provisions of Chapter 24 of the International Building Code. 

R703.8 Flashing:  Approved corrosion-resistant flashing shall be installed at all of the following locations:  Exterior window and door openings. Flashing at exterior window and door openings shall extend to the surface of the exterior wall finish or to the water resistive barrier for subsequent drainage. Pan flashing is now required for window and door openings when flashing details are not provided by the manufacturer. 

R903.4.1 Secondary (emergency overflow) drains or scuppers:  Where roof drains are required, secondary emergency overflow drains or scuppers shall be provided where the roof perimeter construction extends above the roof in such a manner that water will be entrapped if the primary drains allow buildup or any reason...The installation and sizing of overflow drains, leaders and conductors shall comply with the plumbing code. 

R905.2.8.5 Roof Drip Edge Addition:  A roof drip edge is now required for asphalt shingles.


Be sure to review and keep up with changing codes and building practices.  For the 2012 WA State Building Code amendments go to