Posted on August 29, 2011 by Mike Means

Withstanding the winds: Norman home promotes higher safety standards

(via The Journal Record, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011)

Curtis McCarty, right, owner of C.A. McCarty Construction in Norman,
works with trade partner Jory Mallory in using Strongtie metal connecting
straps to tie down the new home from the roof to the foundation.
The same bracing system is used between the roof and structure and in
the weakest areas, generally around doors and windows. (Courtesy photo)

NORMAN - The state's first completely high-wind-resistant home is under construction here, featuring building techniques common in hurricane-prone areas of the country, but rare in Oklahoma.

Norman-based homebuilder C.A. McCarty Construction has partnered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Oklahoma State Home Builders Association, State Farm and other businesses to build the 4,700-square-foot home in a northwest Norman subdivision.

The house features metal bracing that secures the roof and foundation, making the wood-frame structure stronger and more wind-resistant. Metal bracing is also used in the weakest structural areas of the home - around the doors and windows. The home also features wind-resistant composite roofing shingles.

Oklahoma building codes require metal roof tie-downs for new homes, but the regulations only apply to houses in rural areas. The Norman test home goes above and beyond those standards.

C.A. McCarty owner Curtis McCarty hopes that the test home will encourage other builders to offer such construction techniques to their clients by giving them a better idea about how much it costs.

"It always comes back to education," McCarty said. "We haven't really had a big push for this in state until just recently."

McCarty estimates the wind-resistant techniques used in the Norman home add about $1 per square foot to the cost of construction, due to additional labor costs as well as materials.

FEMA encouraged members of the Oklahoma State Home Builders Association to explore more wind-resistant building techniques after the severe storms pummeled the state in May and June.

John Bourdeau, FEMA mitigation HPA specialist, was dispatched to Oklahoma to document the aftermath of the massive tornado that ripped through Piedmont on May 24.

Something as simple as a wind-resistant garage door can help keep the roof attached to a home during a tornado, he said.

"We're looking at construction practices in the state to see if they could be improved or enhanced to minimize damage," Bourdeau said. "As the public is better informed, particularly if they're building their own home, they can make choices to make their home safer."

McCarty is particularly suited to testing the wind-resistant construction techniques as a member of the state's 11-member Uniform Building Code Commission, said Mike Means, executive vice president of the Oklahoma State Home Builders Association.

"Hopefully, this will allow homebuilders to give the customer more options as they build a home," Means said.

The OSHBA also plans to survey its members in the coming weeks to see how many builders in the state are offering wind-resistant construction to their clients.

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