Choosing Resiliency: Lessons from Hurricane Michael

In this post, Doug Allen, P.E., a structural engineer with Simpson Strong-Tie, looks at the choice homeowners in disaster-prone areas face between simply building to code and building to standards of resilience or IBHS FORTIFIED Home™ standards instead.

Resilience, or resiliency: The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness. The ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.

In the wake of the most recent and very devastating hurricane seasons, the theme of structural resiliency has resurfaced with renewed urgency for increasing numbers of homeowners, builders, Designers and civic planners. Hurricanes pose a triple threat of high winds, substantial rain and storm surge. Extreme weather has cost the nation nearly $100 billion in damage during 2018. Accordingly, awareness has risen within affected and surrounding coastal regions regarding their communities’ existing structural resilience ratings (low or high) and the need to improve in view of the losses as well as the time and cost to rebuild what was destroyed.
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Overview of Code-Plus Programs

Our resident code expert, Branch Engineer Randy Shackelford, P.E., discussed some of the code-plus programs in the October 2012 issue of the Simpson Strong-Tie® Structural Report newsletter (Sign up for newsletters here). Randy has been an engineer for the Simpson Strong-Tie Southeast Region since 1994. He is an active member of several influential committees, including the AISI Committee on Framing Standards, the American Wood Council Wood Design Standards Committee, and the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes Technical Advisory Committee. He is vice-president and member of the Board of Directors of the National Storm Shelter Association. Randy has been a guest speaker at numerous outside seminars and workshops as a connector and high wind expert.

I wanted to share Randy’s informative newsletter article on the blog. Here is his post:

We all know that the purpose of a building code is to provide minimum requirements for the health, safety, and welfare of the occupants of buildings built under that code.  But what if the owner wants a building that will perform better than the absolute minimum allowed by the code?

There are several “code-plus” programs throughout the country that spell out prescriptive requirements for constructing buildings that are more resistant to local hazards than the code-minimum structure.

One of the more well-known code-plus programs is the “FORTIFIED” series from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS). The series consists of three basic programs: FORTIFIED Home, FORTIFIED for Safer Living® (new construction), and FORTIFIED for Safer Business®. The FORTIFIED Home program consists of a set of levels, or tiers of reinforcement, that can be applied to either a new or existing home. Each level builds on the previous level, and they are designated as Bronze, Silver, and Gold level.

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