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La Jolla construction industry going through its blue period

La Jolla’s getting the blues.

Only it’s not about sadness, or music. It’s about wood.

A home at 1265 Pearl St. is presently the first in the community to be framed with BluWood, a blue-hued, factory-applied coating, which adherents claim provides powerful protection against moisture absorption, rot fungi and mold growth, as well as resistance to wood-ingesting insects like termites.

Blue was the color of choice for the wood-protection coating product largely because of its high visibility.

Beacham Construction at 405 Via Del Norte is the contractor for the new La Jolla BluWood home. Thus far, firm principal Louis Beacham, who’s been a contractor in La Jolla for more than 30 years, is impressed by the new wood-coating product and its potential to resolve longstanding problems with moisture and insect infestation.

“I think, for general framing purposes, it’s probably the wave of the future, trying to avoid internal rot and mildew and make the product last longer,” said Beacham. “Anywhere near the ocean or where wood inside a wall can get wet: That’s really the benefit of it, as well as its being termite-resistant.”

On the BluWood home, Beacham is still using the same wood, Douglas fir, he typically uses on a construction job. It’s just that now the Douglas fir is being coated and protected on all six sides of the lumber with BluWood before it ever arrives on the job site. Each nailed joint is pre-coated and therefore pre-protected stud to shoe plate. BluWood is also recognized as being a “green-friendly” product, and is listed in the GreenSpec Directory of environmentally preferable products. BluWood also comes with a transferable, lifetime limited warranty, ensuring homeowners’ investments are protected long after construction on their home is complete.

The La Jolla contractor agrees the new BluWood coating is a distinct improvement over substances which have been used previously in the construction industry. “For years, wood has been pressure-treated with arsenic and formaldehyde,” Beacham said. “We’re (contractors) always trying to find better products to make it a better home. If we find it’s cost-effective, we will use it.”

The framer of the new BluWood home at 1265 Pearl St., Jeff Perkins, vice president of construction for Manley Builders Inc., is convinced the cutting-edge, wood-coating product is a major progression. “I’m a firm believer in the product,” said Perkins. “From what I’ve read and seen, the product is less toxic and more environmentally friendly than the treated wood we’ve been using. BluWood is going over huge back East. We’ll see where it goes from here. But I have a good feeling we’ll all be smurfs in the future.”

There’s another kind of protection offered by BluWood: possible protection from construction-defect litigation. “Litigation is a big problem these days,” pointed out Perkins. “If they (homeowners) find one little bit of mold, they automatically want to contact an attorney, which is one of the reasons why houses cost so much, because litigation just drags it out.”

Steve Conboy, president of Southern California BluWood based in Colton, Calif., stands behind the product he sells, which he said was tested for five years and proved to be an effective deterrent to incursion by mold. “It is flood-coated on conveyor belts and encapsulates the board,” said Conboy. “It’s basically a prime coat to protect against mold, wood rot, termites and fungus. This is probably going to be the way all lumber is going to be done one day. There’s simply nothing more effective on the market. It’s the solution the building industry and homeowners have been searching for.”

Perkins said 25 different wood species in Florida have been effectively coated with the BlueWood product.

He added Conboy wouldn’t be offering a limited warranty on the product if it didn’t have demonstrated effectiveness. “It’s about time we have a product, something that someone’s going to stand behind and warranty, to combat mold, fungus and water intrusion to the highest levels,” Perkins said.

Pascal Cabeen, project supervisor for the La Jolla BluWood home, agrees water and insects are high-priority issues for contractors and homeowners alike. “Mold and water infiltration are the biggest concern we have,” he said. “If we can combat it from the lumber source, that’s a great start right there. It’s a step in the right direction.”

Cabeen has worked on job sites contaminated by mold which had to be reworked. “I’ve actually done jobs where the company has had to subcontract out to have someone come in and do mold remediation,” he said.

BluWood is currently being used in a number of episodes of ABC TV’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” this season.

For more information about BluWood call Doug Niel, San Diego BluWood representative, at (760) 518-1584 or visit www.scbluwood.com.