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High and Dry

Posted in Architects

High and Dry

In the wake of recent tropical storms such as Hurricane Sandy, city, state and federal agencies are taking a closer look at flood-elevation requirements in coastal zones. As these requirements are updated to protect homes and with the potential push for increases in required building elevations, designers and engineers can look to raised wood flooring systems as a natural solution. In addition, these systems may reduce flood insurance premiums, meaning savings for homeowners.

Known by different names throughout the country—off-grade floor, pier-and-beam foundation and crawl space construction—a raised floor system sets one house above another, both figuratively and literally. An assembly of connected beams, girders, floor joists and plywood or OSB floor sheathing placed on a foundation, raised wood floor systems serve to elevate a home off of the ground. Compared with other construction options, such as raising a slab with fill dirt to meet floodplain elevation requirements, a raised wood floor system offers a practical way to protect a structure and meet codes.

Separating the structure from the ground helps to prevent foundation-related moisture problems and can reduce flood damage. This elevation can also help protect a home from insects and growing tree roots. Plus, raised wood floor systems may be constructed on any type of soil, and they perform well on problematic soils that can crack conventional concrete slabs.

Today’s architects often specify raised wood floor systems to enhance the aesthetic value of homes and offer builders progressive designs with significant construction advantages. In flood zones, these systems may install faster and be less expensive than elevating a concrete slab. Raised wood floors also allow access to the plumbing and wiring throughout the construction process, eliminating delays and simplifying water, sewer and electrical repairs.

When selecting or specifying a raised floor system it is important to choose one that meets APA Performance-Rated Sturd-I-Floor® standards. All Sturd-I-Floor products are designed specifically for single-layer floor construction beneath carpet and pad, and certain types of hardwood flooring and laminates.

Approved Sturd-I-Floor products include OSB and plywood options. A value-added OSB product like LP® TopNotch® Sub-Flooring with a self-spacing tongue-and-groove system can reduce installation time and can help provide a smooth surface between panels. This product is part of the complete LP Floor System, a systematic flooring solution, which also includes LP® SolidStart® I-Joists, Rim Board and LSL or LVL.

Regardless of architectural style, a raised foundation increases a home’s curb appeal. Studies from the APA show that homes with raised wood floors often sell for more money and cost less to build. A natural extension of the home, a raised floor also opens up amenity options such as a porch or deck, expanding a home’s outdoor living space.

Learn more by taking the Preventing Callbacks with Enhanced OSB Sub-Flooring (HSW credit) here.

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