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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.

Alison Thilo is a Case Manager for CDR, working on both residential and commercial projects. 

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.

Friday
Jun212013

Washington State Construction Codes Update

June 2013

by Bryce Given

The 2012 International Code Council (ICC) Model Building codes for commercial and residential construction projects have been reviewed, revised and adopted by the State Building Code Council in Washington.  These Codes are revised every three years following the ICC 3-year revision cycle.  The select codes currently in use in most Washington jurisdictions are the 2009 International Building Code (IBC) and the International Residential Code (IRC).    

Washington's State Building Code Council (SBCC), along with its Technical Advisory Group, reviews the ICC model codes, holds public hearings, and makes the final determination on acceptance.  Public hearings for amending the 2009 Codes to the 2012 version have already occurred and the SBCC has completed its adoption process.   The 2012 Codes will be effective July 1, 2013.    

Following is a list of some of the new revisions found in the 2012 WA State Building Code. 

R302, Fire resistant construction requires fire protection at five-foot separation from lot lines. 

R303.4, Requires minimum performance for whole house ventilation systems. 

R315, Carbon monoxide alarms, detection and installation requirements revisions. 

R326, Amends provisions for adult family homes to reference standards for accessible design. 

R501.3, New regulations for fire protection of floors. 

R507.2.2 & 507.2.3, Allows alternate methods of deck ledger connections. 

R612, Exempts small business manufacturers from required testing of windows and glass doors. 

Be prepared for these revisions and more.  Adopted versions of the 2012 codes are posted on the website at https://fortress.wa.gov/ga/apps/sbcc/Page.aspx?nid=14

 

Tuesday
Feb192013

Job Safety - New Directives

February 2013

by Bryce Given 

Two recent safety directives specific to residential construction projects in Washington State affect contractors and homeowners and are critical to safety on jobsites. 

OSHA

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration states that fatalities from falls are the number one cause of workplace death in construction.  Over 15 years ago OSHA determined that workers who are six feet or more above lower levels are at risk for serious injury or death if they should fall.  They mandated that to protect these workers employers must provide fall protection and appropriate equipment for the job, including ladders, scaffolds and safety gear.  In 1998 OSHA issued standard STD 03-00-001, its Interim Fall Protection Compliance Guidelines for Residential Construction, which permitted employers engaged in certain residential construction projects to use specified alternative methods for fall protection, such as slide guards or safety monitor systems rather than conventional fall protection such as guardrails, safety nets or personal fall arrest systems.  Now this standard for fall protection is under review, with a deadline of March 15, 2013 to revise it.  When adopted, the new standard (STD 03-11-002) will likely establish that workers engaged in residential construction six feet or more above lower levels must be protected by conventional fall protection with guardrails, safety nets, personal fall arrest systems or similar methods found within the guidelines.   Some alternative methods will be allowed if demonstrated and approved. 

To follow this pending fall safety revision and subsequent training information go to http://www.osha.gov.  Washington State’s regulations can be found on Washington’s Labor and Industries website at http://www.lni.wa.gov/safety/topics/atoz/topic.asp?KWID=108. 

 

DOSH

The Division of Occupational Safety and Health in the State of Washington (DOSH) has revised the Washington Regional Directive (WRD) 1.19, titled Homeowners as General Contractors.  This Directive dated July 3, 2012 affects homeowners who “are acting as the general contractor…in building their own homes”.  The prior 2006 WRD 1.19 stated in part the following: “Homeowners shall not be considered subject to WISHA for remodeling and other activities not subject to worker’s compensation requirements under the provisions of RCW 51.52.020 (2).” 

Under the revised 2012 WRD 1.19, the homeowner’s role in such a situation may be considered one as employer as defined in the Revised Code of Washington RCW 49.17.020.  An employer is "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 the personal labor of such person or persons…” 

In addition, RCW 49.17.060 states in part 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…"  Therefore homeowners who act as general contractors in building their own homes are subject to this RCW. 

The revised DOSH Directive 1.19 provides strict guidance for Compliance Safety & Health Officers in issuing homeowner citations for violating safety and health requirements when they are acting as general contractors.    DOSH provides free on-site consultation to help contractors and homeowners create safe workplaces and programs, and offers free training and other resources to help prevent, find and fix hazards.  Contractors and homeowners should familiarize themselves with the DOSH requirements and programs when undertaking residential construction projects.  

RCW's can be found on line at http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw.  The DOSH Directive can be found at http://www.lni.wa.gov/Safety/Rules/Policies/PDFs/WRD119.pdf.

 

Tuesday
Jul172012

Attic Ventilation

 

July 2012

by Bryce Given

When it comes to ventilating your home's attic, the right amount of air flow and air volume can make a significant difference to the comfort and durability of your home.  There are four primary reasons to ventilate, two of which relate to the comfort of your home and all of which can affect its durability.  The four reasons for ventilating are:

  1. Reduction of summer time heat in attics: Proper ventilation will improve flow of the sun-heated air and direct it out and away from the attic space, reducing heat that radiates into living areas.  For flat roof designs, it is critical to cross ventilate through perimeter vents and unobstructed air movement channels within the roof's joist cavity.  For steep sloped roofs, ventilation is typically achieved through eave and ridge vents with at least 50 percent of the ventilation capacity located high on the roof's ridge.  Your local Building Department and current Building Code will provide specifics regarding Code compliant installations.
  2. Reduction of winter time moist air and condensation in attics:  Attic moisture as vapor can condense to water droplets when coming into contact with a cooler surface, and then can drip onto attic insulation, gypsum board ceilings and wood framing causing them to stain or deteriorate.  Proper attic ventilation can help to eliminate moisture and discharge stagnant attic air, reducing the potential for condensation.  
  3. Ice Dams:  An ice dam is a buildup of ice at the edge of a roof, which prevents melting snow water from freely draining off the roof.  Roof temperature imbalances cause the dam to form as melting snow flows down the roof but freezes again at the point where the roof is below 32°F.  The ice builds up over time as more water collects at the roof edge and freezes again.  Then the water above that has not yet reached freezing backs up behind the ice dam.  Cracks in the exterior roof covering allow this water to flow under the roofing and protective felt layers and into the attic, potentially causing damage to roof sheathing, framing, ceilings, insulation, and other areas of the structure.  Natural roof ventilation along with increased ceiling/attic insulation can help maintain uniform roof temperatures in cold weather to minimize or prevent formation of ice dams.
  4. Prolonged service life of building materials:   Wood sheathing, framing and roofing materials are moisture and heat sensitive.  Materials can break down more readily through heating, cooling and moisture cycles.  Proper attic ventilation can reduce the highs and lows of these cycles to create a more consistent environment, thus prolonging material durability. 

Currently, the 2009 International Residential Code (IRC) is the generally accepted minimum standard for roof ventilation in most local jurisdictions.  Incorrect air ventilation design, blocked vents and non-sealed ductwork are often observed as contributors to water problems in attics.  Before undertaking ventilation and roofing projects, contact your local Building Department or qualified Design Professional to verify the requirements for the work you intend to accomplish.  

 

 

Wednesday
Apr112012

Construction Inspections 

April 2012

by Bill Christenson

Commercial contractors have long understood the need and requirement to accept responsibility for quality control of the construction work, both their own work as well as their subcontractors’ work.  This entails proper staffing and expertise to perform the necessary ongoing inspection of the work. Municipal inspectors, whether they are city, county or state, also play an important role in the inspection process, however their inspections are mandated by the building permit and are very limited in scope and nature.  It is not the role of the municipal inspector to oversee compliance with the contract terms, project plans or specifications.

There are contractors, and more commonly residential contractors, that rely completely on the municipal inspector for their project quality control.  Their adage is: as long as the project passes inspection it’s acceptable and meets the necessary standards.  This is a fallacy and completely disregards the contractor’s responsibility.  The municipal inspector may be on the site only a half dozen or more times over the course of the construction project to perform code mandated inspections.  Who is responsible to ensure the quality of the work during the other 99% of the project?  That’s the contractor team’s responsibility, inclusive of the general contractor, subcontractors, and sub-tier subcontractors. The contractors are also accountable for work inspected by municipal inspectors, hence they are responsible for all of the work.

Construction  inspections can be contracted to independent third parties although this is more common in commercial construction than residential construction. The project architect / engineer is often contracted to perform inspection services.  In these situations the inspection and quality control responsibilities must be carefully addressed in each contract between the owner, architect/engineer, and contractor.  Building permits often require independent special inspections for certain complex phases of the work such as soils preparation (geotechnical engineer) or structural concrete and structural steel framing (structural engineer).  When planning a construction project, make sure the parties understand and accept their roles for project quality control and that the necessary means and expertise are available for successful project completion.

Friday
Jan132012

Table Saw Initiative  

October 2011

by Michael Showalter

After years of allowing the power tool industry to police itself through voluntary standards, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is calling on toolmakers to strengthen safety standards. These actions come as table saw manufacturers face an increasing number of product safety lawsuits throughout the country.  One of those lawsuits resulted in a jury awarding $1.5 million to a man who had sawed his fingers on a Ryobi brand table saw.  In that lawsuit the plaintiffs charged that the manufacturer had known about a safety technology called SawStop, but had not integrated it (or something similar) to its products.  No less than 50 similar lawsuits are pending nationwide, putting manufacturers on the defensive.  Every day 10 people lose fingers in table saw amputations and the chairman of the CPSC would like to know why more isn't being done to prevent such accidents.

Most table saw operators who injured themselves removed the blade guard for operational convenience, according to a CPSC study conducted from 2007 to 2008 that looked at 66,900 "blade contact injuries."  For that reason, CPSC is considering requiring that table saws come with a safety brake like the one offered on SawStop contractor and cabinet table saws, according to NPR.  Within three-thousands of a second of contacting human skin, the brake fires and the blade drops down into the table, preventing injury.

SawStop detects flesh and almost instantly stops the saw blade from spinning and drops it into the tool and away from fingers and hands. In demonstrations using hot dogs, the technology has been shown to leave nothing more serious than a small nick on the skin.  CPSC says it costs the United States $35,000 every time someone is injured on a table saw, accounting for medical treatment, lost time from work, product liability & litigation, and human pain and suffering, so the CPSC is working to implement tighter safety standards for the common contractor tool.

However, cost is the main sticking point for requiring a blade brake like SawStop on every table saw sold in the U.S.  Most manufacturers say it would add $100-$200 to the price of a new table saw.  For a small portable or jobsite unit, that could double the current sales price.  As a first step to making the law, CPSC recently recommended publishing an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Federal Register.  After that, public comment is sought before crafting a final rule.

Contractors must be prepared to provide the correct power equipment on all sites if and when the new rules for table saws are adopted.  Otherwise they may face liability for providing an unsafe work place and endangering workers.  The Washington Administrative Code regarding equipment can be found at this website:

http://apps.leg.wa.gov/WAC/default.aspx?cite=296-155-009 

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