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New Wood-Frame Residential Projects

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11/11/2013
 
As the housing and construction markets take a positive economic turn, contractors find themselves with a steady demand for more multi-family residential projects. One of the latest trends in residential building engineering is to increase the height of structures as building codes evolve and to use design elements s that offer organic aesthetics with the incorporation of natural materials, like wood.

Sustainability

In the article “Working with Wood” in the spring 2013 edition of Building and Construction Canada  Alan Dorich writes that using wood frames for construction is an important measure that today’s contractors use in an effort to be more sustainable. He notes that Canada has a large timber industry that has the potential to grow as manufacturers produce “value-added products.”
Such value-added products include cross-laminated wood panels that get manufactured and used within the country. Once used for mainly institutional projects, you can now find the panels in residential projects. The result is wood-frame, high-rise-like structures that resemble other projects found around the world.

Residential Building Engineering Durability and Safety

When a contractor works with any type of material, safety is a top priority. Dorich reports that the concerns that contractors face with a multi-story wood-frame project include:
•    Lumber shrinkage
•    Seismic-related issues
•    Fire safety
Residential building engineering contractors use kiln-dried lumber and products made from engineered wood (e.g., floors and veneer panels) to reduce shrinkage and prevent issues like warping or splitting. In regards to seismic concerns, Dorich shares that many building codes call for the use of a continuous shear wall that has elements that extend from foundation to the roof. This requirement, however, limits a contractor’s ability to terrace upper-level floors, which is a popular client request. New fire-related construction safety protocols developed by engineers help ensure the wellbeing of those in single- and multi-family developments that use wood frames.
As lumber gets a renewed life in residential projects, it’s up to developers, consultants and trade representatives to freely share their knowledge and expertise to ensure the safety and sustainability of renewable building materials. If you’re curious about incorporating wood frames into your project, contact our Telar structural engineering departement to arrange a consultation.
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