Goal #3 Making Houses Less Prone to Damage

By Beverly Smirnis with special thanks to input by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD and Zero Energy Homes Designer, Consultant & Instructor Armando Cobo

With the recent weather events happening all over our country and Texas leading the way in storm incidents this year, we can expect that more home resiliency requirements are coming in the new codes. 

Part 1:
Airtightness and Keeping it Dry are Goals #1 & #2

Part 2:
Making Houses Less Prone to Damage in a Natural Disaster is Goal #3

Part 3:
Fewer Components, Less Waste is Goal #4

Part 4:
Right-Sizing the HVAC is Goal #5

Making Houses Less Prone to Damage
Raised-heel trusses resist lateral and uplift loads and deliver cost-effective energy performance. Photo, courtesy of APA, The Engineered Wood Association

Every building code cycle increases the requirement for walls. New homes are better equipped to resist wind pressures and wall-racking forces and provide better weather protection.

One of the weakest links in residential structures is the connection between the gable end and the wall below.  Under high wind loads, the roof-to-wall connection subject to uplift. It’s also subject to shear due to positive or negative wind pressure on the walls below.

Thus, it is essential to tie gable-end walls back to the structure. For the roof-framing-to-wall connection, hurricane/seismic framing anchors or equivalent connectors should be attached on the exterior (sheathing side) of the exterior walls, advises The American Plywood Association (APA). 

APA offers data on the most effective way to provide lateral and uplift load continuity. It advises attaching adjacent wall sheathing panels to common framing.  Staples offer less resistance to blow-off than nails. This means a greater number of staples are required to achieve the same level of resistance.

Enhanced Nailing Techniques Improve Resistance to Negative Wind Pressure

APA advises nailing upper-story sheathing and lower-story sheathing into common wood structural panel Rim Board. APA also recommends nailing wall sheathing with 8d common (0.131 in. x 2-1/2 in.) nails at 4 inches on center at end and edges of wood structural panels and 6 inches on center along intermediate framing.

The connection of the wall sheathing panel to the sill plate is important because this is where uplift forces are transferred into the sill plate and into the foundation through the anchor bolts. APA says to space ½-inch anchor bolts 32 inches to 48 inches on center with 0.229-in. x 3-in. x 3-in. square plate washers.

Non-Wood Solutions

Concern for fires and windstorm events have insurers rethinking their risks. There’s also the fact that home insurers are substantially raising rates or pulling out of Texas entirely.  This has some builders looking at non-wood, non-combustible solutions that are compliant with the International Building Code (IBC) and International Residential Code (IRC).

Making Houses Less Prone to Damage
With certifications including Class 4 impact rating, Class A and Class C fire ratings, and Miami-Dade County certification for impact resistance, Brava composite roofing products are a far more durable alternative to traditional Spanish clay tile, natural slate, and cedar shake roofing. Photo courtesy of Florida Specialty Roofing
home resiliency
Vero Building Systems says the Styrofoam center between its steel and concrete forms allows the structure to sway enough to withstand external pressure, rather than crack underneath it. When a structure like a house undergoes massive amounts of stress, such as a Category 5 Hurricane, this bit of flexibility helps to withstand the force.
home resiliency
The Perma R Brace and Perma R Brace SIB lightweight structural sheathing products are half the weight of your typical oriented strand board (OSB).  They are specifically designed to meet the demands of today’s building codes.
Making Houses Less Prone to Damage
Renco’s Mineral Composite Fiber Reinforced units interlock together like Lego. Made with recycled glass fibers, resin, and stone, this renewable composite material is certified to withstand Category 5 hurricanes.

Fewer Components, Less Waste is Goal #4

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