Building Inspection Helps Homes Weather Storms

7:25 PM, May 22, 2013   |    comments
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The tornadoes in Oklahoma flattened entire neighborhood leaving nothing but sticks and debris behind.

Seeing those images may make you think about your own home and how much it's built to withstand.

Every home that goes up in Houston County, goes through the office of Tim Andrews, chief building inspector.

He and his team follow a residential building code that's three inches thick, but he says the bottom line on homes withstanding storms boils down to anchors.

Andrews said every home must have the anchors within 12 feet of every corner at six foot intervals, to pass an inspection.

He said, "The purpose is to prevent any lateral movement of the vertical structure from the foundation."

In Houston County and most of Central Georgia, the anchors must keep a house grounded in winds between 93 and 110 miles an hour. That standard varies among regions of the state.

He said, "Especially, along the coast where they have wind shear that exceeds 110 miles an hour, then there are additional devices like hurricane clips and fasteners for roofs, and things of that nature."

The requirements look out for safety and a homeowner's investment. Andrews said if straight line winds or a tornado moved a house even a foot off its foundation, it could be subject to condemnation."

He also says the standards meet only the minimum requirement, so that homes stay affordable. Extra reinforcements, such as safe rooms, cellars or storms shelters are up to the buyer.

Andrew said, "Even though I tell you these devices are here, they may not be the safest place if you have an alternative."

He said even those alternatives may not be enough to stand up to the forces of nature.

Andrews says most houses in Houston County and a lot of Central Georgia homes don't have basements, simply because of topography. The land is mostly flat, so putting in a basement would be costly and entirely below ground, with no windows or doors.

As an alternative, he says some people install safe rooms toward the middle of their homes with reinforced concrete. Those typically add about $5,000 to the construction cost of a home.

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