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Tempest in a two-by-four: Design values to change?

The National Lumber & Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA) expressed serious concern over the potential impact of a proposal to lower the design value of Southern Pine lumber. 

The issue comes to the fore as the Southern Pine Inspection Bureau (SPIB) has said that recent testing calls for a reduction of grade-marked Southern Pine lumber design values.

An Oct. 6 letter from SPIB president James Loy, "Proposed Design Values for Visually Graded Southern Pine," can be read here in its entirety

The proposal for lowering the design values -- by about 25% to 30% -- will be considered at an Oct. 20 meeting of the Board of Review of the American Lumber Standard Committee (ALSC).

The NLBMDA has come out with serious concerns.

"NLBMDA is very concerned that this proposal, unfortunately timed as the economy and housing market struggle toward recovery, offers no phase-in period or implementation strategy to dampen any detrimental impact on the already depressed building market," according to an NLBMDA alert released Wednesday. "We are also concerned with the extremely limited amount of time the marketplace has been given to anticipate the upcoming Board of Review decision and its impact."

The trade association pointed to three troubling possible outcomes of the proposal:

• Possible stoppage and delays to thousands of single-family, multi-family and commercial construction projects directly resulting from a publication of new design values for Southern Pine;

• Re-designs of buildings, units of buildings and entire projects resulting directly from the publication of new Southern Pine design values; and

• A significant reduction in the economic value of the Southern Pine lumber inventory for dealers, component manufacturers and builders.

 Representatives of the NLBMDA will attend the ALSC meeting next week to present its concerns.

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