Hurrican Shutters

Installing "Peace of Mind"

Does your roof have straps?

Posted by cat5shuttersllc on February 11, 2014

Does your roof have straps?Ever since Hurricane Andrew struck South Florida in 1992, the state has been making building codes tougher. That effort has been generally successful, with homes built to the new codes faring much better in subsequent storms than pre-Andrew structures. Most of the new code requirements had applied to new construction only, but that began to change in 2006 when the Florida state legislature turned its attention to existing homes. Laws now require a variety of upgrades to homes built before the tougher codes took effect — measures that must be taken when certain parts of the home are remodeled. I’ve already described one of those requirements, gable-end bracing and reinforcing, in a previous article (“Gable-End Retrofits,” May 2008). In this article I will look at another new requirement: the need to reinforce the connections between the roof and wall framing.

This new requirement is triggered whenever a qualifying house gets a roof covering replacement. I say “qualifying” because the upgrade doesn’t apply to all houses. It’s only required for detached single-family structures valued at $300,000 or more that are in the “wind-borne debris region,” where design wind speeds exceed 120 miles per hour, a zone that extends about 5 miles inland in most of northern Florida, but includes almost half of the southern tip of the state.

If the house qualifies, the connections that tie rafters or trusses to the top of the wall plate must be inspected by a licensed engineer and, if necessary, reinforced by installing new hardware or adding nails to the existing hardware. The reinforced attachments must then be inspected by the local building official. Recognizing the financial burden this requirement could place on homeowners, the legislature put a cost cap on it. Homeowners don’t have to spend more than 15% of the total cost of a reroof job on upgrading roof-wall connections. Because the outside roof corners get the most stress during high winds, the code requires those locations to be addressed first.

For example, on a $10,000 reroof, if you can’t tie down all the trusses for $1,500 or less, you have to tie down the corner trusses first, then keep tying down additional trusses until you have spent the entire $1,500.Of course, while reinforcing the roof-wall connection is a step in the right direction, it doesn’t address the connections between the wall plate and studs or between the wall and the foundation.
Unfortunately, these extra steps would be cost prohibitive in most cases. The good news is that just tying roof framing to the wall plate will fix a weak point and make the house better able to survive a hurricane. The downside of this new code requirement is the expense it creates for the roofing contractor and homeowner. In Florida, roofers aren’t licensed to do structural work, so they have to farm out the structural repairs to a contractor who has a license to do general construction. And because there’s no way to know if a roof will require these structural upgrades before it’s inspected, the contractor may not be able to give the customer a firm price until the job is already under way.

As chairman of the Florida Homebuilders Association’s Codes and Standards Committee, I have been following hurricane-related structural issues for years and have helped to develop some of the language in the new code. Realizing the problems involved for roofers and their customers, I have also devised some techniques and tricks that can reduce the financial and time burden for everyone involved.
What follows are some ideas that will make it easier to determine whether a roof needs fixing, to estimate the work, and to get the work done.

INSPECTING THE STRUCTURE.

The first task is to find out whether the existing connections are already strong enough. The code assumes that if enough fasteners have been driven into the truss, enough have also been driven into the plate, even if you can’t see them. A hurricane strap or clip with four nails into the truss or rafter will meet code minimums, and you won’t have to expose the wall plate. If, on the other hand, there are not enough nails holding the clip to the truss, it’s up to the engineer to decide whether the wall plate must be exposed.
Sometimes it’s easy to inspect these connections, as when they’re exposed in an unfinished garage or attic. If that’s not the case, then you have to go through the roof or soffit.
The feasibility of inspecting the connections through the soffit depends on soffit construction. Even with a closed soffit, you can sometimes see through the soffit vents with the aid of a good flashlight. And if you can remove the soffit vents without damaging them, you may be able to get an excellent view.

Make sure your home is protected. Contact CAT 5 Shutters LLC on the web at www.cat5shutters.net or call us toll free at 1-877-CAT-FIVE.

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