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wood framing - commercial structures

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My experience with this subject is limited… in my opinion if it’s going to last, you should be using conc. and steel. However, in changing of jobs you inevitably inherit some projects of the past, and this is the predicament I’m in:  we’ve got a 4-story condominium structure on top of a parking level- so essentially, it’s 5 stories. The roof will be a terrace area with jacuzzi’s and separation walls.  The design is concrete walls around the bottom level and load bearing stud walls the rest of the way up to the roof.  There are two cmu stairwells and one cmu elevator shaft, continuous to the roof level.  We’re using IBC 2000, seismic cat. D, wind speed 130 (Charleston, SC).

The original question raised by the contractor was - can we use 2x4 stud walls instead of 2x6 for the load bearing walls? Investigating this led me to several other questions:

 

1 -- can we use wood framing for a structure this high? The floor-to-floor heights are 10’.  In sect. 2308.12.1 (seismic cat D requirements) it specifies conventional light framing is not to exceed one story for this category… what is defined as conventional light framing?? Can we get around this and if so…

 

2 – sect 2308.12.2 says conc or masonry walls cannot extend above the basement.  Any way around this and if so…

 

3 – the contractor and owner want 2x4 stud walls all around. Our walls (load bearing) are currently 2x6 stud walls for the first two levels, and 2x4 for the top two. This was decided from Table 2308.9.1 from IBC 2000.  Is there something I’m missing here, or am I correct in saying we need 2x6 walls to support 3 floors and a roof?

 

I’ve just done a brief scanning of IBC2000 so if there are additional code (or other) issues we need to consider, please let me know.  The drawings have already been submitted for construction once, and revised once. We’re on the second revision, and the project has been delayed about a year, so time is of the essence.

 

TIA,

 

Jen