Monday, January 16, 2012

American Lumber Standard Committee Takes No Action on Proposed New Lumber Design Values

According to NAHB, the American Lumber Standard Committee Board of Review did not take action on a proposal to reduce the design value of Southern Yellow Pine by as much as 30 percent.  NAHB Chairman-Elect Barry Rutenberg testified on behalf of home builders and opposed the change in design values.  However, reduction in the design values is still possible in the future and NAHB will continue to work on the issue.

In minutes released on Jan. 11, the American Lumber Standard Committee (ALSC) announced its Board of Review's decision NOT to approve reductions in the design values for all grades and sizes of visually-inspected Southern Pine lumber as proposed by the Southern Pine Inspection Bureau (SPIB) and based solely on the testing of 2x4, No. 2 lumber. As previously reported, NAHB Chairman-Elect Barry Rutenberg requested that the ALSC Board not approve any change to the existing design values until SPIB has completed testing of additional grades and sizes of Southern Pine lumber as required by ASTM D1990, the industry standard for establishing design values for visually graded lumber.

The ALSC Board agreed that the proposed changes to the full spectrum of Southern Pine grades and sizes were not technically justified based on the limited testing that had been performed to date. Instead, the Board approved the proposed new values for only 2x4, No. 2 lumber and, in a supplemental ruling on Jan. 12, expanded that ruling to include all lower grades of that size. The Board also urged SPIB “to proceed with all deliberate haste” to complete the testing and analysis of additional grades and sizes of Southern Pine as required by ASTM D1990. Additionally, the Board recommended an effective date of June 1, 2012, for the new design values to “allow for their orderly implementation.” This recommendation was a direct response to concerns voiced by NAHB that immediate approval and implementation of the proposed changes would cause chaos in the marketplace and result in an unjustified spike in lumber prices.

In all, the ALSC's decision is good news for NAHB members, who might otherwise be facing immediate implementation of a full range of new design values 25%-30% lower than the existing ones. Instead, the full matrix of In-Grade tests can be expected to take place this summer, after which changes to the other grades and sizes of Southern Pine lumber may once again be proposed by SPIB.

NAHB has created a special page that's dedicated to providing our members with needed information and resources regarding this issue at

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