Whether you call them “townhomes” or “townhouses”, single-family attached housing is having a great year. NAHB’s Eye on Housing blog reports that townhome starts in the last four quarters rose 23 percent over the previous year. Townhome construction now accounts for about 13 percent of all single-family starts – its highest market share in a decade.
Townhome builders have long complained about partition walls that use shaft wall liner. “Shaft walls use fire tape,” says Wayne Baker, COO of Fleming Homes, which recently completed The Tapestry, a 99-unit townhome project in Garner, North Carolina. “Framers don’t like them, so they charge you more per square foot just to build them.”
Fortunately, there’s a smart alternative to shaft wall: LP® FlameBlock® Fire-Rated Sheathing. For The Tapestry, Baker chose UL 350 Type B wall assemblies that incorporate LP FlameBlock sheathing. The result: a 2-hour partition wall that’s easy to install and is fire-rated on both sides.
“We were looking for an alternative to shaft walls because they’re so difficult and aggravating to build,” says Baker. “In addition, shaft wall is a more expensive system to use than the LP FlameBlock system.”
Texas-based Bransom Homes also used LP FlameBlock sheathing in lieu of shaft walls in a recent townhome project in Burleson, Texas. The Bransom team had similar reservations about using shaft wall liner for area separation walls: its weight, complex installation and how it was easily damaged on the job site. The project went faster and smoother with LP FlameBlock sheathing – and Bransom even used it for roof deck in the townhomes. “The LP FlameBlock sheathing goes in just as fast as sheet rock,” says Jake McWhirter, Branson Homes’ superintendent. “The fact that it can also be used in the roof deck makes the job so much easier.”
Word is spreading fast about how LP FlameBlock sheathing can spare townhome builders the hassles of shaft wall. “The code official in Burleson was so impressed with the LP FlameBlock product that he’s beginning to suggest it where applicable in the city,” says Randy Trussell, LP’s marketing development manager in the region.
In the building business, in-person communication has always been a vital component in talking to potential clients in a personable, efficient way. With social distancing disrupting common business practices, like in-person meetings, building professionals have had to pivot plans to adjust to the current landscape while maintaining a steady stream of business.Continue Reading
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