Pearl Sutton wrote:Stick frame construction, the basic type that is all over the US, made with 2x4s and plywood, is not the best type of housing out there. But, even those of us who know about better alternatives, due to circumstances, may end up living in one. What can we do to help make it more resistant to wind damage?
When learning to design against wind, it helps to learn what has already been figured out by others about why and how buildings come down. I read these looking at the physics of why some houses break more easily, and found them educational. They are all from the same site, if you need an account to see them, this place does not spam you, it's safe to make an account. It's a normal builder site, the Journal of Light Construction (JLC) They have a search bar on the site that will pull up more articles, these are 4 that I really learned from.
Engineer's Assessment of Tornado-Damaged Homes
A Texas Tornado: Lessons Learned
Practical Engineering: Resisting Tornado Damage
The part I found most educational, not being a fan of that type of building practice, was how much of the problems were caused by sub-standard work, and corner cutting. Most of the solutions to the problems were easy, just not implemented, or done badly.
One thing I learned from it all was garages tend to be a problem, because they are part of the house, but badly built. When the garage goes, the rest of the house is exposed. I think if I had a house I was stuck with, I'd look at seeing if I could modify the wall that is between the garage and house, to make the garage more of a breakaway type thing, so if it goes, the house doesn't.
I'm currently stuck in a rental with amazingly bad construction. If I wanted to try to help this place, I'd start by reinforcing the room we use as a storm shelter (which I have, to a point) and making the garage less likely to start the process of disintegration. I have made removable shutters for winter, but they are insulative. Shutters that are structural would be a great investment, as the windows are easy to break, lots of branches come down.
Something I saw and would work with is hurricane shutters, they have some that are big rollers that come down, way out of my budget, but some were a heavy mesh. I have been experimenting with using metal lath (expanded metal) to make hail covers for glass. I think they'd not stop something really serious slamming into the house (an F5 tossing a whole tree is going to be unstoppable) but they might stop smaller impacts from starting the whole damage process. I think if I were putting them over my windows, if the mesh was thick, I'd paint the inward side of it sky blue to make it slightly less annoying to see. Outside I'd do to match the house. Not the cutest option, but if you are in high risk territory, it might be an affordable thought.
If you are not in a well built home, what can be done?
Too many of us are in cheap tract housing, whether we want to be or not.