On-Demand Lumber & Timbers Grading Program

While NELMA is accredited to provide on-going grading services at its member mills, the Association’s expert staff also provides “On-Demand” grading options for others that may need lumber and/or timbers graded and certified for specific building projects or for general consumer sales. In most cases, this type of grading service is needed to fulfill a requirement of local or state building codes.up close NELMA grading

Examples Include:

  • Lumber produced “locally” by a landowner or small mill that does not employ certified graders and the material is to be used structurally, or
  • Timber frame building components, or
  • Hardwood lumber and timbers for construction uses.

Material Eligibility Criteria:

Not all lumber or timbers are eligible for grading within NELMA’s On-Demand program. Listed below are specific criteria that must be the material will be considered for grading. Please review this list before completing a request for services:

  • Lumber or timbers MUST BE recently produced and may be kiln-dried, air-dried, or green; a surfaced or rough finish may be graded. Important: Material reclaimed/recycled from older structures or lumber/timbers in-place are NOT eligible. Any material that shows signs of prior use will be not be graded.**
  • Lumber and timbers that have been notched, drilled, mortised and tenoned WILL NOT be graded.
  • Material must be in sawn form; no round logs will be graded.
  • If the final application is structural, the species of the material must have published design values established for use in construction. Most all softwood species are approved for this application along with the major hardwood species.

**Design values for structural use are currently based on newly sawn lumber/timbers. Studies indicate that lumber/timbers that have been under a loading application (studs, joists, rafters, beams, etc.) in a structure for a number of years may have reduced strength values. No consistent reduction in strength calculations are available at this time, consequently there is no method to confidently designate a design value for reclaimed/recycled.

Types of Grade Marking:

The building code authority where the materials will be used should be contacted prior to completing a request for services to be certain of the type of grade marking or identification that will be acceptable. The most common types are:

  • Hammerbranding and Certificate of Inspection – A non-ink impression of the grade is hammered onto each piece and a certificate is completed that provides detailed information of the inspection. No additional stamping fees are required,
  • Ink Stamping – An official ink stamp is applied to the face or end of each piece signifying the grade, species, moisture condition, agency logo, and inspector number. Additional fees may be applied should special ink stamps be required.
  • Certificate of Inspection – Used in cases where only the certificate that provides detailed information of the inspection is required by the local building code authority. No marks are placed on individual pieces.

NELMA Service Fees Include:

  • A flat daily rate for each inspector needed to complete the grading request in a timely manner. Typically only one inspector is required.
  • Mileage to and from the NELMA Inspector’s office at the current IRS rate. The total miles may be reduced if the grading location is within the NELMA Inspector’s regular route and can be scheduled to coincide with the Inspector’s normal visit to the area.
  • Meals and Lodging. Typically overnight stays are not necessary.

—->  Contact NELMA by phone (207-829-6901) or by email at info@nelma.org  for an On-Demand Inspection fee estimate.

Requesting On-Demand Inspection Services:


The Process:

Upon receipt of the completed request, NELMA staff will review the form and contact the primary person listed to obtain any additional information necessary to approve the request and/or schedule a mutually-acceptable date to perform the grading service. Please note that the schedules for NELMA’s Inspection staff are completed up to 3 weeks in advance. As a result, we highly recommend that the request form be completed and returned well in advance of any deadlines that the job may require.

Important Note:

Should the final use of the lumber/timbers to be graded require a specific grade (No.1, No.2, etc.) and a specific quantity, additional pieces should be available for the inspection as not all of the material may make the required grade.

Please contact NELMA toll-free (800-819-6040) or by email at info@nelma.org for any questions or clarifications needed regarding the On-Demand Lumber Grading Program. We look forward to providing your lumber/timber grading needs!