New homes built upon Western research

Jeff Renaud // Special to Western News

Engineering professor Greg Kopp discussed a new partnership between Doug Tarry Homes, Western and the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction that will see the homebuilder incorporate two Western-led research findings into its new construction.

A new pilot project looks to increase the resilience of 100 new-build homes against high winds, even tornadoes, in St. Thomas, Ont., putting into practise more than two decades of Western research, company and university officials announced Friday.

The partnership, between Doug Tarry Homes, Western and the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction, will see the homebuilder incorporate two Western-led research findings into its new construction, one involving longer nails for roof sheathing, a second involving a special screw connecting roof framing to the walls.

“This is very exciting because Doug Tarry is implementing our findings practically,” explained Engineering professor Greg Kopp. “It’s one thing to do this in a lab; it’s another thing to do it in a row of housing.”

Doug Tarry, Director Of Marketing and Lead Designer at Doug Tarry Homes, says the improvements Kopp and his collaborators recommend will not only make a huge difference in building resilient homes but they are also relatively inexpensive to implement and save time during construction.

“It’s as simple as moving from two-inch nails on the roof to two-and-half-inch nails on the roof. It’s the same nailing pattern as what’s required for the Ontario Building Code and that helps keep the sheathing on the roof,” explained Tarry, who was named Ontario Home Builders Association Member of the Year in 2015.

“In addition, we’re moving from hurricane clips, which take almost a minute to install for each one, to a screw that takes eight seconds to install. This is much faster; they’re relatively the same price and the labour is significantly less.”

These recommendations and changes are intended to protect both individual building structures and neighbouring buildings, through reduction of flying debris during high wind and tornado events, Kopp said. The measures will further serve to increase resilience of the community, through reduction of time and resources required to recover in the event of a wind-related disaster.

High winds contributed to nearly all of the natural catastrophes recorded by the Insurance Bureau of Canada between 1983 and 2016. Last year alone, windstorms in southern Ontario and Quebec in May and a series of tornadoes in the Ottawa region in September caused close to $1 billion in insured losses.

This is not the first partnership Tarry and Western have joined forces on. Western researchers and students joined the St. Thomas builder’s Hope Agua Vita team in San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico, to rebuild homes after Hurricane Maria. Installing hurricane straps and extra nails, they explored how resilience measures could be adapted back home.