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Online Construction Helps: (updated 8/15/13)

There are so many building codes. No one can copyright the law, so once a model code is adopted by a state or municipality, the adopted code is available to everyone - the MODEL code continues to be copyrighted. This means that the adopted code is legally available online as a pdf file, which you can download and print out. Try . Maine's law is now found at http://www.maine.gov/dps/bbcs/, and the Illustrated Guides are very helpful. The ICC code is also available free from https://www.archtoolbox.com/representation/specifications/free-online-building-codes.html. Note: the free ICC reader DOES include the 2009 Commentary, which has important additional information and the MUBEC includes the 2009 IBC/IRC/IECC so this has the needed comments. ALSO note that the Maine changes to the ICC codes are found near the bottom of the MUBEC page, Section C Chapter 5. The MUBEC page also has links to the snow loads by town.

I use this site for snow loading: http://snowload.atcouncil.org/ and the companion windspeed site instead of the ASCE 7 map - but this is the data the ASCE 7 map comes from and is more accurate. The ASHRAE 62.2 ventilation requirements are a part of the MUBEC. They ask for more ventilation than a well-sealed house should be providing, and not necessarily ventilation where its needed, in or out. So, Joe Lstiburek and the Building Science Corporation, who can move at a less-glacial pace than the code-writing and approving organizations, came up with their own spec for low-rise residential projects - and I think this is a workable way to ventilate a 21st century house: http://www.buildingscience.com/documents/special/ventilation-new-low-rise-residential-buildings/view?utm_source=BSC+Newsletter+Issue+%23+61&utm_campaign=E-newsletter+60+-+ventilation&utm_medium=email


OSHA is reinstating the requirements for fall protection for residential construction. See http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=DIRECTIVES&p_id=4755 for the text. Note that it may cover some hotels and nursing homes, if they're mostly wood-framed. This has passed the legal challenges, so far!

One book to make sense of the building code: Contractor's Guide to the Building Code, By Jack M. Hageman, Brian E P Beeston, Ken Hageman, Craftsman Book Comapny, 2008. This is based on the (OLD) 2006 code.

This website is free, and you put in your zipcode and distance willing to travel, and it finds where you can recycle construction debris. http://www.recyclerfinder.com/ - very nice!

www.eeba.org and www.buildingscience.com have good details for how to build and keep out moisture and wind - and building while making a profit is all about the details.

 I like these details for building decks for correct attachment of the decks to the main building, attachment of the guardrails to the deck, and weather-proofing of the construction. This is a new deck detail site on the AWC website and is by the AFPA. Go to http://www.awc.org/Publications/DCA/DCA6/DCA6-09.pdf and do the 4.3M download on deck details. This meets the 2009 IRC and includes deck attachment and flashing to the house as well as the new requirements for handrails. Check out the American Wood Council's other offerings while you're there! The Journal of Light Construction has a 400-page book written for contractors about how to build durable decks, with the latest in testing, $35 if you're a subscriber - lots of sketches, so there's less wading through the engineering than with the AWC, well worth the $35.

I like these graphic details for proper stair construction: http://stairways.org/Default.aspx?pageId=942928. Note that they now charge $5 for the 2009 IRC download, but there are some changes from the 2006 code to the 2009 code and the graphics look even better.

Maine has a law requiring a signed contract for any residential construction of over $3000 value. The Maine Attorney General’s website has a model contract that can be used: http://www.maine.gov/ag/consumer/law_guide_article.shtml?id=27938.

Note: I recommend having a lawyer review your contract, because this contract is a good model, but it can be tweaked to be exactly what you don’t yet know that you need. $3000 is a pretty small contract – but good contracts make for good relationships. Copy the model into your Word document, and modify it so it's yours, not generic. The last page is a change order form.

These sites have good details for installing SIPs (structural insulated panels): http://www.foardpanel.com/TechnicalInformation.htm and http://www.winterpanel.com/manuals/WPcompleteguide.pdf . Each manufacturer will have specific details, and special details for special designs. The extra up-front cost of the panels is more than offset by the speed of installation and the sturdiness and wind-tightness of the panels. (Note: Winter Panel is now Vantem Panel.)

Note that old existing barn beams are NOT likely to meet current code structural loading requirements - and timber framing is sized by the connections. Note that stone foundations are acceptable if they meet the code reqirements for drainage and frost protection - but the codes officer will want an engineer's stamp before approval.

The International Masonry Institute has many masonry details online, based on the ACI 530 masonry code: http://www.imiweb.org/design_tools/masonry_details/index.php

Invasive Plant Atlas of New England - avoid these, remove where possible: http://nbii-nin.ciesin.columbia.edu/ipane/

International Staple, Nail and Tool Association - Ho Ho Ho! They have a good acronym! ISANTA.com has some good information, too.

Roof attachment in hurricane areas (like coastal properties in Maine) http://www.apawood.org/pdfs/managed/A410.pdf?CFID=9418784&CFTOKEN=22139187 - yeah, just register, it's quick and painless and the APA has lots of good, current information. Plus, they are testing all the time, and helping to improve the code requirements.  I like the detail using a GRK or Timberlok-type screw through the double top plate into the rafter for rafter-tail uplift, which can be found at http://www.grkfasteners.com/pdf/en/Tech_Bulletin_Uplift.pdf. Fast, inexpensive to install, easy on a retrofit, and strong. YAY!

What is the value of maintaining a building? Well, just like keeping your body or your car maintained, so they will last longer in better condition, its cost-effective to maintain your structures. This is a good site for the one engineering study: www.sitemason.com/files/b2tJra/Preventive%20Maintenance.pdf . 545% ROI over 25 years is equal to 18.13% per annum for 25 years – and it’s less risky than the stock market! It is just money SAVED – but it’s easier and surer to save money than to make it again.

"Advanced Framing" is a green way to frame a building, using only the wood that is needed. See http://www.homepower.com/articles/green-framing-options. I like this article, because they call for a double top plate, and most of the Advanced Framing things call for a single top plate. Double click on the framing diagram in the slide show - it's from a Taunton Press book. If you have a double top plate (top of the bearing walls, supporting the rafter tails) then you can use the wood-screw-hurricane-tie method. Else, you have to go to a more expensive clip. And the article also talks about other methods and materials.

Harpswell, Maine has miles and miles of waterfront, and they have a page for lawn care practices with some good links: http://www.harpswell.maine.gov/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC={FA81F206-533D-437E-A7BC-09C82D763D48}&DE={561675BB-7E8F-4D84-9C29-463A057C33E3}.


If you have questions, don't hesitate to call or e-mail.

Thank you for visiting our web site. Las updated 1/15/14.

Helen Watts Engineering PLLC * 455 Litchfield Road * Bowdoin, ME * 04287 * hcwatts@gwi.net * (207) 522-9366