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Industry Trends3 min

Answer Demand for Urban Living: Best Practices for Tall and Skinny Housing Builds

Many U.S. cities are experiencing population booms, and their new residents are demanding to live closer to the city’s core. This home building trend is encouraging “tall and skinny” construction, which is helping builders maximize the constraints of building on tight urban lots.

Tall and skinnies are described as single-family houses that are one-and-a-half-times as tall as they are wide. Houses are usually two or three stories and are built in pairs or rows. Depending on the local zoning, developers tear down one single-family house and build two tall and skinnies on the lot.

A new zoning policy called a horizontal property regime (HPR) permits the building of two new houses on a plot that formerly was zoned for one house. The Horizontal Property Act legally instituted HPRs.

Resisting Flame Spread in Tall and Skinny Houses

An inherent cause for concern with tall and skinny construction is fire, its spread and the close proximity to other tall and skinny neighbors. As zoning codes are evolving with urban infill, fire codes are also adjusting. 

Many tall and skinny homes are built as zero lot line properties. The Intertek Listing LPB/WPPS-60-01 is one of LP’s assemblies that can be used to meet fire codes requiring a 1-hour fire wall along the property line. This assembly incorporates LP® FlameBlock® Fire-Rated OSB Panels, which features LP’s proprietary non-combustible, fiberglass-reinforced Pyrotite® coating, to help with flame-spread and burn-through resistance to meet fire codes while maintaining the structural rating of untreated OSB.

Codes vary greatly at many levels, but the architect or builder can choose the LP® FlameBlock® interior and exterior wall assemblies that meet the appropriate code requirement. Evaluated by ICC-ES, LP FlameBlock Fire-Rated OSB Sheathing offers both flame-spread resistance and burn-through resistance.

Reduce Time Spent on Housewrap

Building a two- or three-story structure means a lot of time spent on scaffolding. Reduce the number of times your crew goes around the house by using LP WeatherLogic® Air & Water Barrier. It integrates a WRB and structural sheathing in one product so there is no need to go back around with housewrap.

The jobsites for tall and skinny construction are tight. Keeping jobsites clean is a challenge for home builds of any size, and especially important on a smaller urban lot. The LP WeatherLogic system replaces standard wall sheathing and conventional wrap for a cleaner, more professional site. Additionally, LP WeatherLogic® Water Screen can be used in conjunction with the air and water barrier system for an added level of defense against moisture.

What is the Purpose of Air and Water Barriers?

Air and water barriers help safeguard the home from water intrusion while allowing moisture vapor to escape. “A secondary purpose is to minimize the amount of air leakage from outside to inside or inside to outside, depending on the season,” explains Ted Peters, product/process development manager for LP OSB and EWP. “The primary issue is preventing moisture that naturally moves within the house from causing problems. The permeable membrane inside LP WeatherLogic Air & Water Barrier allows moisture vapor to go out, but stops liquid water from going in.”

For more tips on defending your build against moisture problems, check out the article on LP WeatherLogic Water Screen

Tips for Tall and Skinny House Exterior Designs

LP® SmartSide® Trim & Siding products offer a variety of siding profiles, giving you excellent design flexibility. “Many tall and skinny houses are built in established neighborhoods,” says Isaac Ojeda, LP Construction Service Associate. “LP SmartSide Trim & Siding allows you to pick out architectural details from the older homes and recreate them onto the new skinny house. For example, in a neighborhood of bungalows, choose elements like board and batten or cedar texture shakes and use them on the new houses.”

Many tall and skinny houses have bump-outs on upper floors for added space. “Use those details as an accent by changing materials. If lap siding is on the main house, choose panels or cedar texture shakes to highlight the bump-outs. The flexibility of LP SmartSide products lets you play with design opportunities,” says Ojeda. Lastly, minimize seams on the front of the tall and skinny house with LP SmartSide 16-foot lap siding.

For additional advice on answering the demands for urban housing, check out Attracting More Millennial Homebuyers

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