It's that time of year again: Another JLC Live Residential Construction Show takes place in Providence, Rhode Island March 19 through March 22 at the Rhode Island Convention Center.

New on the program this year is a hands-on workshop from Simpson Strong-Tie experts Donald Simon and Charlie Roesset about wall bracing in the International Residential Code, one of the most vexing and perplexing issues in the code for builders trying to get up to speed with changing code versions. For details, see the JLC Live session description: "Brace Yourself... It's the Big One: Code Compliant Wall Bracing and Load Path Solutions."

A little background: Requirements for framing depend on the official design wind speed in the location where you're building—which is typically higher if you're nearer to the ocean. If the wind speed is 120 mph, your problem is simple: You need an engineer to design the building. If the wind speed is only 110 mph, you don't—you can design from the prescriptive tables in the building code. For more on the prescriptive method, check out "Bracing Walls for Wind" by Ted Cushman (JLC July 2013).

Where's the line between 120 mph and 110 mph? Well, in Rhode Island, for example, the line is US Route 1. Build on one side of the highway, and you need an engineer. Build across the road, and you don't—you can look up the answers yourself in the code book.

But that assumes that you understand the code book. And even if you do, the code book offers more than a half-dozen different ways to accomplish the same thing, each with its own set of costs and jobsite practical considerations.

Simpson Strong-Tie's Simon and Roesset say they're offering a class that lets builders try out a few of those options in the classroom, not just to learn how it's done, but for a chance to compare the pros and cons of some different approaches. Don Simon told JLC, "The audience will participate by actually installing 3 different methods of resisting lateral and uplift loads, and frame two different narrow garage wall portals, one with a site-built prescriptive solution and one with a prefabricated solution." An added bonus for contractors from Massachusetts: the state recognizes the class for three credit hours that meet the continuing education requirement for licensed contractors.