ALSC upgrades standards for another wood grade
Following its decision last January to implement new design values for visually graded No.2 and lower grades of 2×4 Southern Pine, the American Lumber Standard Committee (ALSC) has approved new standards for No.2, 2×4 Dense and NonDense grades. The new size category includes material that is 2 ins. to 4 ins. thick and 2 ins. to 4 ins. wide. The effective date is June 1, 2012.
As a point of clarification, the Southern Forest Products Association (SFPA) released the following statement: “The new design values for No.2 Dense and No.2 NonDense apply only to Southern Pine lumber,” said Cathy Kaake, senior director of engineered and framing markets for SFPA. “Mixed Southern Pine does not have published Dense and NonDense grades.”
February housing starts slip 1.1%
Commerce Department data released Tuesday morning show February housing starts were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 698,000.
There’s good news and bad news in Tuesday’s data.
February starts declined 1.1% compared with the upwardly revised January figure. And single-family starts declined 9.9% to a rate of 457,000. The total-starts figure fell below expectations, as analysts expected about 710,000.
The revised figure for January 2012 — 706,000 — gives that month the distinction of being the highest since October 2008.
More good news for the home-building industry lies in the year-over-year data. Compared with February 2011, total housing starts increased 34.7%. And single-family starts grew 17.8% year over year.
This good news, however, is tempered by the fact that February 2011 was one of the two worst months on record for residential construction.
Also released today, building permits in February increased 5.1% to an annual rate of 717,000.
Class action lawsuit filed over weather barriers
KB Home is being sued by a group of homeowners in Cary, N.C., because it installed weather barriers behind fiber cement siding in some residential developments but not others, according to a case summary provided by North Carolina Lawyers Weekly.
A Business Court judge certified the lawsuit, describing the class as "all persons in the state of North Carolina who own a home that was constructed by KB Homes without a weather-restrictive barrier behind the exterior veneer of Hardiplank cement fiber lap siding."
But this group may only consist of approximately 300 homes in the Twin Lakes, Amberly and Wynbrooke developments in Cary. KB Homes said in court filings that it used Hardiplank only in those communities and that after June 2007, it began installing a weather-resistant barrier due to a change in local building codes.
The home builder, which contracted with Stock Building Supply to install the siding, has brought the North Carolina pro dealer into the lawsuit as a third-party defendant.
The plaintiffs claim they have elevated levels of moisture in their houses. KB Homes disputes the existence of any real damage, claiming that it received no complaints until an attorney mass-mailed a solicitation letter about the missing weather barrier to homeowners in December 2007.
The plaintiffs’ lawyers respond that it would be necessary to remove the Hardiplank to determine the extent of the damage. They also contend that KB Home was supposed to follow the manufacturer’s installation specifications and seek approval from the local building code authority, as opposed to looking to the building codes for guidance.