hortly after midnight, Sept. 10, 2002, an F1 tornado touched down in the community of Albertville, population 3,621. The tornado struck with little warning to the residents, traveling from northwest to southeast in a three-quartermile stretch that was 50 to 70 yards wide. City Building Official Jon Sutherland surveyed the damage and contacted State Building Official Tom Joachim for assistance. Kevin Mealhouse, regional building code representative, and two building code representatives were dispatched to assist Jon. By mid-morning, HOTOS BY OUG ORD Jon had established inspection teams with City Inspector Al Steinbring, St. Michael EXT BY IM UYRES Building Official Cliff Skogstad, and Building Codes and Standards staff. While inspections were under way, an informational hand-out was developed and delivered to all affected property owners. The handout outlined for the property owners how to address damage to roofing, attics, siding, doors, windows, gas and electric meters, and other types of water and structural damage, and related code items. Information was provided on the purpose of the damage reports being completed by the inspectors, names and phone numbers of city contacts, contractor licensing guidelines, and the building permit process for repairs. The city staff responded quickly to remove debris, restore utilities, and assist the public. The Red Cross was on hand to provide support, and several neighboring communities provided manpower and equipment to assist in the prompt clean-up. The inspection teams completed damage assessment reports on 81 dwellings (seven with major damage), one business, and the city park bleachers and accessory structures. The majority of the damaged structures were less than 10 years old. It appeared that damage from flying debris was minimized because of underground utilities and the lack of mature trees. The Disaster Preparedness Manual proved to be a useful tool. It is available for review on the division’s Web site at

Albertville tornado adds to workload
D N • J M

Kevin Mealhouse, BCSD regional rep (above), completed a damage assessment report. Below, interior view of an attached garage that lost its roof.


More kudos

Clockwise, from top left: Winddriven glass was embedded in an interior hollow-core door. The tornado followed a path through a new subdivision; the adjacent house was destroyed. Albertville Building Official Jon Sutherland. One of the 80-plus homes that were damaged.

In the September Standard, we published a salute to the volunteers who gave a weekend of their personal time to the City of Roseau to help with inspection of flood-damaged buildings. We have another name to add to the list of volunteers – Jerold E. Frevel, building inspector for the City of Golden Valley.


Electricity Board issues notice of exemption to law


he State of Minnesota Board of Electricity has released this “important notice” regarding M.S. §326.245, Subd. 4. The following is a brief summary of the provisions of this subdivision, taken from the board’s Web site. However, the Board of Electricity will apply the provisions of the Electrical Act and Minnesota Rules Chapter 3800 based on the specifics of individual cases. The complete laws and rules are on the board’s Web site at M.S. §326.245, Subd. 4, “Other Equipment,” exempts the planning, laying out, alteration, replacement, or repair of heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, or refrigeration equipment, and associated devices, controls, and wiring, including wiring in or on the equipment, not including wiring to the unit, from the Electrical Act when the work is performed by an employee of a heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, or refrigeration contractor who has completed a state-approved heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, or refrigeration apprenticeship program, or is registered in such approved program and is directed by an employee who has completed the approved program, or holds any class of personal electrical license issued by the Minnesota Board of Electricity or is directed by such licensed employee. Similar exemptions are found in Section 326.242, Subd. 12, Exemptions from Licensing, and Section 326.244, Subd. 1a, Technology Systems, which exempts this work from inspection. This exemption is limited to reconnection of existing circuitry for replacement heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration equipment that does not require the extension of new or existing circuitry. In addition, this exemption does not apply to water heaters and other equipment that is not heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, or refrigeration equipment. Installation of new circuitry or extension of existing circuitry, whether it is Class 2 power


he Construction Codes Advisory Council was created by the governor in 1996 in response to a request by the construction industry. The 1998 Legislature passed a law making the council official. The council meets monthly, is co-chaired by State limited (low voltage) or line voltage, is Building Official Tom Joachim and subject to the applicable licensing and inspection requirements of the Minnesota Architect Dean Newins, and has 15 members, each representing an area Electrical Act and Minnesota Rules, of expertise in the building industry. Chapter 3800. The following is Section 326.45, Subd. The council is supported by Colleen 4, as it appears in the Minnesota Electrical Chirhart, the Building Code Division’s rules coordinator. Act: The council’s purpose is to “review Subd. 4. Other equipment. Planning, laws, codes, rules, standards, and laying out, alteration, replacement, licensing requirements relating to or repair of heating, ventilating, airbuilding construction . . . .” It has the conditioning, or refrigeration equipment, authority to recommend, review and and associated devices, controls, and comment, advise, and promote matters wiring including wiring in or on the relating to building construction. This equipment, are not covered by Sections 326.241 to 326.248 when the work brief activity report is taken from the is performed by an employee of a September 2002 meeting minutes. heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, or refrigeration contractor provided that Sept. 5, 2002 the employee performing the work has Council members were given a list received a certificate of completion from of entities that should be represented a heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, in a new Certification and Licensing or refrigeration apprenticeship program Technical Advisory Group and approved by the state of Minnesota or were asked to nominate prospective any class of personal electrical license issued by the board. Employees registered advisory group members. The group was expected to meet in September to in an approved heating, ventilating, aircreate a work schedule. conditioning, or refrigeration program The council is forming a Model may design, plan, alter, replace, or repair Zoning Technical Advisory Group at heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, the request of the Minnesota Housing or refrigeration equipment, devices, Finance Agency, which is concerned and controls including wiring in or on about building and zoning issues that the equipment, under the direction of increase the cost of construction of an employee who has a certificate of low-cost housing. The group was also completion from an approved program expected to meet in September. or any class of personal electrical license The Builders Association of issued by the board. The installation of Minnesota requested review of a electrical wiring to the unit is covered by Sections 326.241 to 326.248.


Construction Codes Advisory Council update

Code Advisory Council

Page 7

Conservation strategies for air-supported structures


new Minnesota Department of Commerce, State Energy Office report shows that airsupported structures can benefit from a number of simple conservation strategies that have a payback of less than five years. The report, funded by a U.S. Department of Energy grant and the Building Codes and Standards Division, identifies many extremely cost-effective energy-saving measures for both new and existing domes. It also will assist those installing new air-supported structures in complying with state energy codes for the structures. Leading the group of fast payback measures is the night setback strategy, with up to 50 percent savings of heating and ventilating energy and less than one-year payback. Another fast payback is air leakage control, by simply patching air leaks, adjusting doors, or installing door covers. Automated or manual pressure control is yet another quick payback measure. Purchasing a structure with an insulated membrane can reduce heating energy use by up to 75 percent, with a payback in less than three years. Some of the poorer costeffective measures include standby propane heating systems and highefficiency heating systems. The report also details the economics of mixed conservation strategies. The report will be useful for future owners of air-supported structures, because the Minnesota energy code now requires new structures to implement all energy-conserving measures with a 10-year or less payback (see Minnesota Rules, Part 7676.0900, Subpart 1, Item B). Three baseline air-supported

Proposed State Building Code rules move into 30-day comment period
BCSD directors
from the

Energy code matters

ast month, we received word that the Governor’s Office has approved the proposed changes to the Minnesota State Building Code. This means that they can be published in the State Register for public comment. The division also plans to mail the notice to affected persons and peoTom Anderson ple who work with the various rules. By the time you read this column, the “notice of intent to adopt rules” should have been published in the State Register. This notice begins the official 30-day comment period on the various rule chapters. During this comment period, if the division receives 25 or more requests for a hearing on any given rule, a hearing will be held on the date referenced in the rule notice. The rules affected at this time include Chapter 1300 – Administration; Chapter 1301 – Building Official Certification; Chapter 1303 – Minnesota Provisions; Chapter 1305 – Adoption of the International Building Code; Chapter 1306 – Special Fire Protection Systems (optional); Chapter 1309 – Adoption of the International Residential Code; Chapter 1311 – Adoption of the Guidelines for Rehabiliation of Existing Buildings; and Chapter 4715 – Minnesota Plumbing Code. Chapter 1346 – Adoption of the structures were analyzed as part of International Mechanical Code, will the review: uninsulated and used follow in a later notice of intent to adopt. only during the winter, insulated and Within the next year, the division also used only during the winter, and intends to amend several additional chapinsulated as well as being both heated ters of the Minnesota State Building Code and cooled for year-around use. The to incorporate updated information or new third modification of the basic facility statutory requirements. The Minnesota is expected to be more common in Rule chapters to be reviewed include: the future. The uninsulated • Chapter 1307 – Elevators and Related baseline structure in this Devices report, typical of many • Chapter 1341 – Accessibility Code structures currently in • Chapter 1350 – Manufactured Home place, was estimated Rules to annually use nearly 300,000 kWh for • Chapter 1370 – Storm Shelters for lighting and motors, and Manufactured Home Parks 4,600 MMBTU for heating • the Minnesota Energy Code (enough to heat 45 average The division will also re-open Chapter Minnesota homes). 1301 – Building Official Certification, to The report is available on the add language required by new legislation Department of Commerce Web establishing a graduated schedule of site at administrative actions. (search site for “Air Supported”). For more information, call the Energy Information Center at (651) 296-5175 or (800) 657-3710.


Information Unit new to BCSD
ntil July of last year, the Building Codes and Standards Division staff performed public information functions as the need arose and as time permitted. Newsletters appeared on a “Surprise!” schedule and brochures weren’t always as current as they could be. After two years in his position, Assistant Director Tom Anderson decided that a full-time position would yield more coordinated, better-planned communications with the division’s customers and allow the rest of the staff to TOM ANDERSON focus on their primary duties. Because good customer relations is a top priority of the division, Director Tom Joachim quickly signed off on the idea. A new position was defined and approved and Mary Williams took over the job in July. Mary brought to the job 27 years’ experience in Minnesota state government, six years’ experience in private-sector communication (newspapers), and a degree in English from the University of Minnesota. What she didn’t bring was knowledge of building codes and construction. “Well, maybe I knew a little,” Mary conceded. “I always helped my father with his construction projects at home. I became an expert at sitting on the other end of the board he was sawing. And, my great-grandfather owned a lumberyard.” How can a writer who is pretty much clueless about building code matters produce credible information materials? “It’s easy,” Mary said. “Everyone in the division pitches in with contributions and I just polish the information for public consumption.


I figure, if the readership is knowledgeable about building construction codes and the division staff prepares the information in draft form or via an interview, it doesn’t matter that the person in the middle (me) is a neophyte. I’m confident that I’m surrounded by experts.” Mary has been an active customer of the building code herself this year while she made some additions to her 80-year-old residence. “I haven’t told my contractor where I’m working now. It’s probably best to save that for the end of the project. I must say, he’s diligent about meeting code requirements, yet is determined to make the additions look like they’ve always been part of the house. He specializes in restoration and is very particular about the products he uses.”

Mary Williams works surrounded by a variety of manuals, software instruction guides, materials for lending display booths, desktop publishing information, building code interpretations, old newsletters, and staff photographs. All of this material is on the division’s computer network, but Mary comes from the old school of publishing that needs everything on paper. Just in case.


Multi-tasking is ‘way of life’ for a public communicator


ey functions of the Information Bobbi a fax at (651) 297-1973 or by writing Unit – which is part of the newer her at the St. Paul office. Bobbi provides the Administrative Code Services, administrative support for the section. Rules, and Information Section headed by The division Fred Driver – are: lends display booths and materials to The building officials for home shows and newsletter is distributed around the first other informational opportunities. This of each month and contains responsibility was handed over by Doug features about the division’s Sandstad, New Hope building official, at responsibilities (like this the beginning of this year because it had article) as well as the latest grown beyond his time limits. The division news for building officials has three smaller booths that are more or and other people in the less transportable (heavy and bulky, but FRED DRIVER construction field. The movable in a van or truck). They were used mailing list has 5,000 names and you can for 22 events in the early part of this year, put your name on the list by e-mailing when home shows are popular. Reservations or sending Communications next page


Monthly newsletter

Display booths

Continued from Page 6
and booth preparations are handled by Mary. She is in the process of updating her procedures after seeking feedback from last winter’s customers. She is also writing a pamphlet on display hints. including forms and cover letters, for projects assigned by legislation.

Division procedures manual

The division has an entire state’s population as its customers, and keeping them informed Writing and editing is a high-priority item. The division has brochures and other information matera display in the Education Building at ials, including correspondence and the State Fair every year, and brochures forms, is a continuous effort. With a new are handed out by the hundreds. The building code about to be adopted, the brochures also are distributed through division’s materials need to be updated. the display booth lending program. Mary is working with an editorial team Advertisements in conference brochures, to produce the new brochures before the descriptions of the division’s services, busy season begins for the booth-lending and other written and desktop-published program. She also drafts materials, materials are also prepared by Mary.

Promotional materials


The division will have its first online policy and procedures manual as soon as technical work on the division network has been completed. This will be exclusively for division staff and is intended to be convenient to everyone and easily updated. A work group determines the subjects and reviews Mary’s most recent batch of writing.


Continued from Page 4
series of projects suggested by builders and contractors to use as a springboard for the department to determine projects that should be considered for grants. The 2002 Legislature granted authority to the commissioner of the Department of Administration to award grants for code research and development and education. The association suggested six components: 1. Organize and analyze data on problem houses; 2. Conduct a chronological study of building practices, building products, and code provisions; 3. Test window and door flashing methods and develop best practices; 4. Test installation methods for non-fenestration wall openings and develop best practices; 5. Create a hands-on training facility; and 6. Identify and support targeted research on durability impacts. Discussion about the BAM request included questions about the process for inviting groups to study the six items. The council decided to prepare a request for proposal to be reviewed by the council at its October meeting. The request would be published in late October, grant proposals would have a deadline of Nov. 19, and grants would be recommended by the council to the commissioner in early December, with grant awards by the end of December. The next council meeting was scheduled for Oct. 10. It meets in the Building Codes’ large conference room from 1 to 4 p.m. The November meeting is scheduled for Nov. 7.

Mary performs desktop publishing of newly adopted rules, for public distribution through the Minnesota Bookstore. The division’s rules coordinator, Colleen Chirhart, will soon be in the process of publishing newly adopted rules and Mary will perform the word processing.

Division displays

The division participates in annual events sponsored by the League of Minnesota Cities, Minnesota Association of Townships, Association of Minnesota Counties, American Institute of Architects, and Builders Association of Minnesota. The division takes every opportunity to promote adoption of the Minnesota Building Code by local governments. These events offer prime times to talk with local governments about the benefits of adopting the building code.

Future plans

The division’s Website was designed and created by the division’s accessibility specialist, Curt Wiehle, who continues to maintain the site only until Mary has been trained in working with the Web. “I look forward to this because it’s something I’ve never done before,” Mary said. “Curt has done a fantastic job with our site and has laid a firm foundation for me to build on.” Mary Williams can be reached at (651) 296-6204, faxed at (651) 297-1973, or e-mailed at





Prsrt Std



Minnesota’s newsletter for the building industry

Permit No. 171 St. Paul, MN

Nov. 5 – Roseville – BAM contractor series presented by State Building Codes and Standards on IRC. Contact Katie Liberko at (651) 4920936. Nov. 6 – Rochester – State Building Codes and Standards Fall Seminar on administration and existing buildings. Contact Don Sivigny at (651) 297-3600. Nov. 7 – Rochester – State Building Codes and Standards Fall Seminar on IBC. Contact Don Sivigny at (651) 297-3600.

Nov. 13 – Brooklyn Center – State Building Codes and Standards Fall Seminar on IBC. Contact Don Sivigny at (651) 297-3600. Nov. 14 – Roseville – BAM contractor series presented by State Building Codes and Standards on IRC. Contact Katie Liberko at (651) 4920936.

Nov. 20 – Redwood Falls – Southwest Chapter of Building Officials education seminar on WIRSBO by Rep. Scott Rademacher. Contact Russell Thornberg at (507) 238-9461. Nov. 20 – St. Cloud – State Building Codes and Standards Fall Seminar on administration and existing buildings. Contact Don Sivigny at (651) 297-3600. Nov. 21 – St. Cloud – State Building Codes and Standards Fall Seminar on IBC. Contact Don Sivigny at (651) 297-3600. Nov. 21 – Roseville – BAM contractor series presented by State Building Codes and Standards on IRC. Contact Katie Liberko at (651) 492-0936. Nov. 22 – Mankato – Building official certification exams. Contact Mike Fricke at (651) 205-4802. Nov. 26 – St. Paul – State Building Codes and Standards Fall Seminar on administration and existing buildings. Contact Don Sivigny at (651) 297-3600. Nov. 27 – St. Cloud – State Building Codes and Standards Fall Seminar on IBC. Contact Don Sivigny at (651) 297-3600.

Nov. 15 – Minneapolis – State Building Nov. 7 – Roseville – BAM contractor Codes and Standards seminar on series presented by State Building existing buildings. Contact Deanna Codes and Standards on IRC. ConChristiansen at (612) 338-6763. tact Katie Liberko at (651) 492-0936. Nov. 16 – St. Paul – Building official Nov. 7 – St. Paul – Construction Codes certification exams. Contact Mike Advisory Council. Contact Colleen Fricke at (651) 205-4802. Chirhart at (651) 296-4329. Nov. 12 – Brooklyn Center – State Building Codes and Standards Fall Seminar on administration and existing buildings. Contact Don Sivigny at (651) 297-3600. Nov. 19 – Maplewood – North Star/ Lake Country Education Seminar on firestopping. Contact Keith Willie at (651) 464-3550.

Nov. 19 - 22 – Roseville – BAM contractor series presented by State Nov. 12 – Roseville – BAM contractor Building Codes and Standards on series presented by State Building IRC. Contact Katie Liberko at (651) Codes and Standards on IRC. Con492-0936. tact Katie Liberko at (651) 492-0936.