Yesterday I spent all day in a contractor’s continuing education class. It was hosted by the Rice County building inspections divisions of the Cities of Northfield and Faribault, and Rice County. The event was held at the Northfield Ballroom and with 80 people was well attended. Lampert Lumber in Northfield was a sponsor as well, providing lunch for the attendees and a wonderful selection of door prizes at the end of the day.

100_3372 The instructor for the day was Greg Karow (right in this photo). Greg is a former building official from Goodhue County. Greg also worked for the State of Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry in the building codes division. He is now conducting educational seminars through Code Education Opportunities. All building contractors in Minnesota are required to complete 7.5 hours of approved education each year. With all the changes being made to building codes I think this is a very reasonable requirement.

Minnesota will be adopting a new building code shortly. We used the day to review100_3374 floor, wall and roof framing issues related to the new code. Greg included several photos of rather amazing existing conditions that he has run across in his years doing inspections. In this photo it shows structural beams and supports that were cut out to fit plumbing pipes. We run into this type of situation many times while remodeling homes built in the 1920-s and 1930’s when builders were just getting used to platform framing methods. But to see it in modern construction today is rather disturbing.

One of my favorite pictures of the day dealt with calculating the required amount of100_3375 structural wall sheathing required to stabilize a home. The calculations are not difficult but the results of not getting it correct can be devastating. In this photo the entire garage and house shifted due to improper wall bracing.

100_3373 One of the benefits of a class like this goes beyond the instruction. During the breaks the contractors in attendance have an opportunity to talk with each other. I ran into long time friends from Shieldsville, Montgomery, Faribault and other locations. We had the opportunity to talk about what works to handle specific problems. We also talked about our struggling construction economy. No one in the roof felt business was going to be robust in the next couple of years.