Updated building code guidance for the use of European lumber in construction

The North Carolina Department of Insurance along with lumber grading agencies and the American Lumber Standards Council (ALSC) and American Wood Council (AWC) are providing updates and technical information pertaining to the use of European lumber and other lumber species not addressed specifically in the current N.C. Residential Building Code.

This guidance is provided to clarify any misinterpretations from the initial guidance provided in June during the lumber shortage stemming from the pandemic supply chain.

The Engineering Department within the Office of State Fire Marshal (OSFM) has issued code interpretations to provide guidelines for the use of the different lumber species. Span tables have been developed by the lumber grading agencies as a design tool to determine the allowable span for the European lumber in different structural applications including floor joists, ceiling joists, rafters, headers and girders.

Here is the link to the code interpretation regarding the use of the lumber species not recognized by the Residential Code:


In addition, based on the allowable stud length table developed by the lumber agencies, an interpretation has been issued for the use of the European lumber as exterior wall construction in high wind regions of  North Carolina. Here is the link to access the interpretation:


OSFM also provides education and assistance to code enforcement officials in recognizing the difference between the lumber grades and the correct application of the guidelines provided in our interpretations. OSFM ensures updated interpretation information is delivered to code officials and provides any necessary support for specific site situations.

The result of the hard work of our partners and the department is that European species and other species not currently found in the N.C.  Residential Code can now be safely used when following the guidance within the department’s code interpretations.

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Angela Brown
Angela Brown is the author of our Business & Economy section.