TRENTON, N.J. -- As homeowners across New Jersey begin to rebuild after Sandy, specialists from the Federal Emergency Management Agency are advising survivors to rebuild safer and stronger so homes and buildings in the Garden State can better withstand storms.
One of the building techniques FEMA experts know leads to stronger homes and buildings is to build using a continuous load path.
“A critical aspect of hazard-resistant construction is the ability of a building or structure to carry and resist all loads – including lateral and uplift loads – from the roof, wall, and other components to the foundation and into the ground,” says a FEMA publication on coastal construction.
“The ability of a building to resist these types of loads depends largely upon whether the building’s construction provides a continuous load path.”
The Coastal Construction Manual is available to download free from FEMA's online publication library at http://www.fema.gov. The Home Builder's Guide to Coastal Construction - Technical Fact Sheet Series is also available.
Many homes built without continuous load path construction may show stress at the connection that ties the roof framing, top plate and stud together which makes the structure significantly less resistant to high winds. Researchers at Clemson University demonstrated 10 years ago that construction of this type under severe load, like high winds from a major hurricane or tornado, can literally roll the roof structure off a home or other building.
A continuous load path is like a chain that ties the house together from the roof to the foundation.
To create a continuous load path, builders use a system of wood, metal connectors, fasteners (manufacturer’s recommended nails or screws) and shearwalls (a wall composed of braced panels to counter the effects of lateral load) to connect the structural frame of the house together. Continuous load path construction is critical to the structural survival of a home or building during an earthquake or hurricane because it helps hold the structure together when ground forces or high winds try to pull it apart.
Although many building codes require homes to be built with a continuous load path, not all parts of the country follow these national building standards.
The age of your home can also help determine whether it has a continuous load path. Houses built before 1985 typically do not have a continuous load path.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.
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