DPWES Letters to Industry

Land Development Services
12055 Government Center Parkway
Fairfax, Virginia 22035-5503
703-324-1780, TTY 711

April 23, 2003

Lumber Species Not Native to North America

The use of lumber species not native to North America and not listed in the National Design Standard (NDS) has recently become more prevalent in residential construction. Fairfax County does not wish to restrict the use of these species (i.e., ipe, spanish cedar, meranti). However, with the many species on the market today, Land Development Services must regulate their acceptance with the specific requirements listed below.

  • The use of lumber species not native to North America shall be limited to decking surface installations only. Their use as structural elements, such as guardrails, joists, beams or rafters, is prohibited.

  • Upon submission to Building Plan Review, the building plans shall include a report from a testing laboratory recognized in the United States or Canada for the decking surface material. The report shall include the following minimum data for the species proposed in the construction:
    • Allowable bending stress
    • Allowable shear stress
    • Modulus of elasticity

  • The submitted building plans shall also include verification of decay and termite resistance of the proposed species from an organization recognized by a federal agency of the United States or Canada.

  • Labeling and field identification per IBC, Chapter 17, shall also be provided. This is to ensure the specified species is the actual species installed in the field.

If you have any questions regarding the policy outlined here, contact Syndee Grace at 703-222-0114, TTY 711.

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