I am planning on putting an addition onto my house in Connecticut. I want to make all the building lumber with my bandmill. I do have to get a permit and the inspector will visit during construction. Do I have to have my building lumber graded?
Ask your building inspector if he wants the lumber graded. If he wants it graded, you can cut all the lumber and call in a grader to inspect it.
Do you have a drawing of your addition to show your building inspector? He might want certain pieces bigger than normal if it's made out of a weaker type. Start with the man who will be the final inspector to get your plans and needs figured out.
I milled a garage-worth of lumber for a friend. He built the whole structure, had the siding on and the roof decking down before the next inspection. When the inspector got there, he asked if the lumber was milled at home and my friend told him yes. Nothing more was said. Of course, my friend used common sense with the lumber. Using a 2x6 with a 5 inch knot in it is not good building practice. The inspector passed everything. My friend planned on bringing a lumber grader out to the site if the inspector was not happy. He figured it would even be easier to grade all separated and in full view.
If you ask, they will say no. They will not accept the responsibility.
Iíve also been to two grading short courses where the traveling grading inspector told a story of inspecting a standing building and finding defective timbers. The builder had to dismantle this building and replace these timbers, because the building inspector said he had to. Giving advice to build first is very risky. The fee for having your lumber inspected first is a lot less than dismantling a building to replace defective lumber.
I doubt that any inspector is going to take the responsibility for your lumber being sound and suitable for building. He will say "ask someone who knows".
About removing bad timber: I'm assuming that the builder has the knowledge and common sense to recognize bad lumber before it gets nailed up. If he doesn't, he should get it graded. I had to saw my 2x4 for interior walls a full 2 inches thick, but 3 5/8 wide to use side by side with lumber-store lumber to make the inspector happy. The grade on mine was far superior to the other lumber. It was a waste.
One other check to make--can you get insurance for your house if it doesn't have graded lumber? Homeowner's insurance, but what if you sell the house and the buyer wants a Homeowner's Warranty? (Someday you will sell the house or your heirs will.)
You can get a professional grader to come in and grade your lumber, but he cannot stamp it, as the stamp is reserved for the company that owns the stamp, etc. So, you have a professional grader come in for a few hours to indicate that you have the "equivalent."
Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor
Insurance companies usually specify that a home must be code compliant. The codes (in my area) say nothing about grade stamping, only that the lumber may be unsurfaced, s1s, s2s, or s4s, and meet the minimum strength.
I was in the local mega store the other day and saw a solid juvenile fiber, very knotty, unsound and waney 2x4 with a "#2" stamp on it. I am certain I can build a home with better lumber than that.
The building codes are there to prevent stupidity, laziness, and common errors from causing tragedy. Not to provide a monopoly to corporate mills for the production of construction lumber.
You can use rough lumber, providing it meets your local building code. Your building code may require your lumber to "meet or exceed" a specific grade, which in turn may have a set maximum moisture level. Different lumber applications have different requirements, ie "Stud" Grade, #2 SYP, depending on studs or joists.
There are books that will help you select the proper timber sizes based on span and floor loading, based on size and species.
Local building inspectors don't often deal with rough-cut lumber and are therefore at a disadvantage. If you surprise them with it you can expect problems. If you plan, review, and coordinate with your inspector, you shouldn't have any problems. You can often find a copy of your building code at a good library or at the office of the inspector. If you are properly informed with the facts and present yourself in a positive and unobtrusive manner, there is no reason to not pass inspection.
Don't fool yourself on grade lumber and rough-cut. Grade doesn't have much to do with whether a piece of lumber is finished or not. It has to do with the size, placement, and quality of knots; limits on wane and MC in many cases.
It's really frustrating when you laminate two 2x12's together for a joist or header to feel better about what you are building and the inspector says "take it down, the plans call for a 2x10". Or you are in possession of 10m ft of flawless 2x12's and are required to find and pay someone to put ink on them so that the inspector will allow you to use them.
It was stated above that it would be fairly easy for a grader to see the boards and stamp them in place as need be. I understand that the biggest problem with grading is moving the lumber around quick enough to make the grading expedient enough. Someone said 20k board feet a day? Seems that would only be possible if it was on conveyors or some other fast-moving system. Homeowner's insurance? Warranty? Once the walls are covered, how does anybody know it is ungraded lumber? Be nice to your inspectors and make them feel important (cause they are).
It is true that most stamps are at mills and cannot leave the business property. That's why they told me as well as a room of 50 other portable sawmill owners: "we will never issue you a grade stamp for your mills." Only the issuing association can make traveling inspections, to my understanding, but previous posts have shown me to be wrong.
An inspector came here and looked at the timbers I had for a timber frame barn, then stamped the ends of the timbers with a hammer stamp, no ink involved. All these timbers were then shipped to the site and the timber framer cut all the ends off and threw them into the burn pile, in the process of doing all the joinery necessary to build the barn. Not one timber that I saw on raising day had a stamp on it, (but the burn pile was full of them).
This builder told me that only when part of the building was going to be enclosed was it necessary to have the building inspector inspect the building before it WAS enclosed. As this was a timber frame barn and none of the insides will be enclosed, he never called for an inspection.
I never did understand why this building inspector wanted these timbers inspected, but he did, and we did it to satisfy him.
As to inspecting large volumes of lumber on a per day basis, the inspector who came here said amounts like that mentioned before can be done on a daily basis. With a good yard and forklift, you can lay out and inspect a lot of lumber in a day's time. It goes real fast. Sorting the rejects out after the inspector leaves is what takes some time.
As to using the best stuff for your own projects, we all would like to do that, and we should. You need to do some research as to the codes in your area, and be prepared to pay for whatever your decision is--an inspector now if necessary, or the dismantling of your addition if you build first and ask questions later.
They would certify me to grade stamp lumber, but then all of the lumber cut at the mill had to be reported and therefore subject to being "taxed" (for lack of better words) by SPIB. There is a fee for using the stamp by the bd ft, as I recall, and all the lumber cut at a certified mill had to be reported and appropriate fees paid.
Needless to say, I don't have a stamp.
I wonder if you can take your structural wood to a mill and have them run it through their planing mill--plane, grade, and stamp it. Anyone ever tried that?
Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor
His fee for grading on-site is expensive because, I think, he doesn't want to do it.