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Opinion: Cold Weather Concrete and Masonry

Date:

December 22, 2003

To:

All Building Officials and Interested Parties

From:

Thomas R. Joachim, State Building Official

Subject:

Cold Weather Concrete and Masonry

 

In recent weeks there has been considerable discussion regarding the 2000 International Residential Code (IRC) and the cold weather provisions for concrete and masonry. This discussion has been generated due to recent seminars conducted by our division and the adoption of the IRC.

The masonry and concrete industry in Minnesota has expressed concern regarding changes in enforcement practices since the seminars have been conducted. I would like to make the following observations

The provisions for cold weather masonry construction referenced in the 2000 International Residential Code are the same as those found in the Uniform Building Code that has been our state building code for 31 years.

The Minnesota Concrete Masonry Association (MCMA) has for many years produced a document called "Recommended Practices for Construction of Residential Masonry Basements in Minnesota." This publication is designed as an alternate method of construction for cold weather masonry that can be reviewed and considered for acceptance by the local building official under 1300.0110 subp 13. The document has been recently updated by the Minnesota Concrete and Masonry Association and mailed to all code officials. The revised document contains similar provisions to the original document and there are no changes from the original with regard to MCMA recommended code weather construction procedures. The ultimate decision to accept or reject an alternate material or method rests solely with the local building official and must be documented in the construction file. While the Building Codes and Standards Division cannot endorse a specific alternate material or method we are aware of the original MCMA association document's acceptance by numerous jurisdictions in Minnesota for several years.

In regards to cold weather concrete it has been discovered that while the 2000 International Building Code requires compliance with ACI 318, which contains provisions for cold weather concrete, the 2000 International Residential Code does not list the same reference. We believe this is an oversight by the drafters of the IRC and it is our intent to correct this oversight in our next adoption cycle. In the interim, jurisdictions are encouraged to reference the 1997 Uniform Building Code or ACI 318 for provisions to be used when constructing concrete under winter conditions using the International Residential Code.

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