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specifying treated luber for ground contact

specifying treated luber for ground contact

specifying treated luber for ground contact

I dislike starting my membership in this forum with a question like this, but it is what prompted me to finally sign up.

We design agricultural pole barns several times a year. Typically I only look at loads and ensure the structure can resist it. I leave construction techniques (unless load conditions require specificity), fastening, and other basic items covered in the ICC to the Owner/Builder. Recently we had an Owner purchase treated lumber for his columns, he didn't tell the lumber yard what it was for, and bought the cheapest boards available. Turns out, he bought no-ground-contact rated treated lumber (0.05 pcf Copper Azole) - he is installing 2x6 laminated columns. The inspector caught that they were not for ground installation and halted the project. I believe we have the situation resolved, but now he has stated he wants someone else to pay for the solution. Can it be considered industry standard to not specify what "level" of treated wood in an agricultural pole barn? Dimension columns are usually rated for in-ground, but the Owner opted for the laminated alternate. There is a disclaimer that builder must comply with IBC where not specifically stated on the plan, and I doubt this Owner has even heard of the Codes other than they are something he see's no point in. He's not going to get anywhere with his sabre rattling but I want to ensure that I'm not placing an unnecessary burden on Owner/Builders.

The second part to the question is: is concrete considered ground contact (no exposure to moist soils)? I'm unable to find a definition of ground in the IRC or through the American Wood Preservers Association (they are on vacation until 9/23). Is fully embedded in a concrete pier considered in-ground installation as far as wood treatment level requirements.

Mods: Please move this post to any other section as necessary.


RE: specifying treated luber for ground contact

As for contact with concrete, yes, wood has to be protected or treated the same as in contact with soil. You will find that in the IBC.

As for the liability here, did you have any structural notes to cover the situation? Were you on the hook for any inspections of the materials or construction? If the owner went outside of your specifications, that is his problem.

Mike McCann
MMC Engineering

RE: specifying treated luber for ground contact


Thank you for the reply. No, I do not have any structural notes addressing the specific treatment requirements. We are not part of any inspection of materials or construction, for the project. I would reason that "must comply with the IBC where not specifically addressed" requires the use of in-ground rated lumber. The only reason a code authority (and Engineer) is even involved with this is the property is less than 40 acres.

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