Staying Put, Riding Out the Storm and Surviving the Odds by Sheltering in Place

Disaster strikes. It’s inevitable, given enough time. Regardless of where you live, there are natural disasters waiting to happen, be they earthquakes, floods, tornadoes or hurricanes.  Meteorologists and emergency service providers can often provide advance notice of weather-related disasters like hurricanes, but seismic events, tornadoes and flash floods can often occur with little or no warning.

In the wake of recent catastrophic events such as Superstorm Sandy (233 deaths, $75 billion in damages), the 2011 Joplin tornado (158 deaths, $2.8 billion in damages), and Hurricane Katrina (1,245 deaths, $108 billion in damages), emergency management experts are increasingly evaluating the benefits of sheltering in place as opposed to evacuation. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), sheltering in place is generally advisable when it may be dangerous to leave your home or place of employment.
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Simpson Strong-Tie Renews Partnership with Habitat for Humanity to Help Build More Disaster-Resilient Homes

Simpson Strong-Tie is renewing its partnership with Habitat for Humanity to continue supporting the housing organization’s efforts to make homes resilient to disasters. This is the 12th consecutive year of the partnership to help more families in need of a decent and affordable place to call home. To date, the manufacturer of structural product solutions has contributed more than $2.75 million toward Habitat’s mission.
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Laying Foundations: Simpson Strong-Tie Mentoring Future Construction Leaders of America

Good news for anyone involved in construction: The industry added 23,000 specialty trade contractor jobs in November 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The bad news? Construction employers will likely struggle to fill new positions, as a labor shortage triggered by the 2007–2009 Great Recession continues to dampen more robust growth for the builder economy.

In fact, the number of builders reporting a critical shortage of labor has grown from 21% in 2012 to 46% in 2014, 52% in 2015 and 56% in 2016, says Paul Emrath, who tracks industry economic statistics as the vice president for survey and housing policy research for the National Association of Home Builders.
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How to Fix the Most Common East Coast Framing Errors

Of all the possible mistakes that pop up across East Coast construction sites, one easy-to-correct framing blunder continues to vex even the best builders and structural engineering experts – the use of incorrect fasteners. Despite the industry’s best training efforts, the availability of print handbooks and installation guides, and even easy-to-understand smartphone videos and graphics, framing laborers are seemingly content to bang away at various anchors, straps and plates using whatever nail happens to be loaded in the gun.

“Even with great advancements in building designs and roof and framing systems, the bigger issue remains how well those designs are executed in the field,” explains Simpson Strong-Tie builder service rep Kevin Kelly. “No matter how much training we do and how many pocket install guides we publish, the biggest issue with framing connectors is always the use of incorrect fasteners.”

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Repetitive Training Needed to Fix the Most Common West Coast Framing Errors

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Take framing, for instance. In November 2009, Simpson Strong-Tie Pacific Northwest Outreach Coordinator Jim Mattison penned the article Framing Hardware Dos and Don’ts for the Journal of Light Construction, outlining some of the most common framing errors as seen in the field, including notching studs and joists around anchors, using incorrect fasteners and overdriving nails with pneumatic nailing equipment.

So what’s evolved out there on the jobsite in the eight years since? “Not much,” bemoans Mattison, who says common framing mistakes still vex most of the builders he visits across the Western US.  “When it comes to installing the hardware, the problems that plagued the industry in 2009 persist today, and while some of the hardware has changed in configuration and use, simple installation errors regarding use of incorrect fasteners and fastener overdrive are still happening frequently.”
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Protecting Homes Against Earthquakes With Seismic Retrofitting

If an earthquake were to strike at this very moment, are you confident your home is adequately constructed to withstand it? Depending on where you live, how your house is built—and the year in which it was originally constructed—an earthquake could have a devastating impact on your physical and financial health.

We’ve all witnessed the catastrophic impact that large earthquakes can have on society recently, and our hearts go out to those affected in Mexico who are picking up the pieces. Since October is Earthquake Preparedness Month and October 19 is the Great ShakeOut earthquake drill, we thought we’d share some steps homeowners and building owners can take to help minimize the risk of damage.

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Home Improvement Projects Done Without Permits Jeopardizes Home Sales and Contractor Reputations

In late July 2017, the Los Angeles County Superior Court finally dropped the gavel on Mohamed Hadid, sentencing the mega-mansion builder – and father of supermodels Bella and Gigi Hadid – to three years of probation, 200 hours of community service, and more than $3,000 in fines for unpermitted construction on a 30,000 square foot home perched over a Bel Air, Calif. hillside.

Dubbed by Curbed L.A. as the country’s “most illegal mansion,” the sprawling compound boasted pool decks, an IMAX theater, and an entire ground floor that city planners said were never approved. Between 2011 and 2015, ownership of the property changed hands five times even as Hadid stayed on as a developer, allegedly engaging in unpermitted grading and hiding illegal construction behind tarps and taped over doors and windows.
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Creating Resilient Buildings and Communities

There’s been a lot of discussion recently about resilient buildings and resilient communities, including what it means to be resilient, why it’s important, whether it’s possible within budget constraints, and how it can be achieved. The 100 Resilient Cities Rockefeller Foundation initiative defines “urban resilience” as “the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses, and systems within a city to survive, adapt, and grow no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience.”

The discussions have noted that communities are made up of several components that are necessary to consider when developing a plan for resilience — such as buildings, infrastructure, water, power and communication. Even though community resilience is multi-faceted, the resiliency of buildings is a crucial component because research shows that Americans spend 90% of their day inside buildings.
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Keep Corrosion in Check

Just as knowing the load capacities of your metal hardware is crucial to the longevity and structural integrity of your building project, so is understanding the potential for corrosion. The likelihood of rust and rot increases when building outdoors in wet environments and other corrosive conditions. Having a solid awareness of the corrosive threats posed by the environment and your building materials will help you to choose the fasteners, connectors and anchors that will best mitigate corrosion risk and keep your project structurally sound for the long haul.

Start by evaluating the exposure levels in your environment. Is it an interior dry- or exterior wet-service job, for example? Generally, outdoor environments are more corrosive to steel because of the elevated moisture levels relative to interior spaces. Projects near the ocean or waterfront are at increased risk for corrosion due to airborne chlorides and salt splash prevalent in marine locales. Salt is also a danger if building materials will be exposed to de-icing salts.
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A Well-Connected Home Is a Smart Home

In the digital era, we’ve observed technology grow ever “smarter,” as our devices, tools and appliances advance steadily toward greater connectivity, autonomy and responsiveness. Even homes are getting smarter as lighting, temperature and security systems operate with increasing integration and diminishing oversight on our behalf.
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