Currently Reading

Wildfires are Only Worsening—It May Be Time for New Construction Methods

Advertisement
Resilient Construction

Wildfires are Only Worsening—It May Be Time for New Construction Methods


June 3, 2021
House near wildfire
Photo: shufu | stock.adobe.com

As bushes and trees nearby turned to ash, one California resident’s home remained untouched by the Valley Fire of 2015. How? Its composition of steel and concrete. As wildfires progress and become more regular, questions of more durable, fire-resistant home construction are popping up, says TIME. The California resident, Sean Jennings, built his home with RSG 3D panels, which are blocks of foam insulation placed between a steel grid, then covered in concrete. He’s in the process of creating one for his mother in Sonoma County where wildfires destroyed 363,000 acres last year. In a country where 90% of homes built per year are wood-framed, it may be time to evolve.

As the U.S. West approaches the 2021 fire season with even drier conditions than those that kicked off last year’s record-breaking blazes, breaking up with wood makes sense, but the U.S. remains stubbornly attached to timber. It’s one of the few places in the world where wood is the dominant material used in new-home construction—90% of homes built in 2019 were wood-framed, according to the National Association of Home Builders. Even as scientists emphasize the importance of trees in capturing carbon and slowing climate change, the U.S. uses more forest products than any other country, not just for construction but for furniture, flooring and paper. Wood plays a role in American folklore, housing Abe Lincoln and employing Paul Bunyan.

Now there are growing economic reasons to find alternatives. The cost of wood has skyrocketed as more people across the country remodel or build new homes following a pandemic-year construction collapse, causing a lumber shortage that adds more than $35,000 to the cost of a new single-family home.

“Wood is ubiquitous, but it’s time to evolve,” says Matt Watson, the president of Gateway Builders, a Northern California contracting company that has been building homes since 1997. Watson started building with non-wood materials last year and now, as he works with clients who lost homes in the 2020 fires, 19 out of 21 rebuilds are using non-wood materials. His workers have traded in hammers and nails for pneumatic tools that fasten together steel panels. Still, it may take awhile, he says—old habits die hard. “It’s the same as getting people off fossil fuels.”

Read More
 

Related Stories

Resilient Construction

4 Principles for Building Resilient Homes

How to design a 100-year home built to last

Resilient Construction

New Housing Design in Alaska Combines Indigenous Wisdom with 21st Century Technology

I realized … that incorporating the wisdom of a people who had over 10,000 to 20,000 years adapted to one of the harshest climates was an important step

Resilient Construction

Natural Disasters Now Factor Into Where Homebuyers Want to Live

Also, about one-third of the 3,000 homeowners surveyed are considering selling their home, moving, or both to avoid a potential disaster in the future

Advertisement
Advertisement

More in Category




Advertisement
Advertisement

Create an account

By creating an account, you agree to Pro Builder's terms of service and privacy policy.


Daily Feed Newsletter

Get Pro Builder in your inbox

Each day, Pro Builder's editors assemble the latest breaking industry news, hottest trends, and most relevant research, delivered to your inbox.

Save the stories you care about

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet lorem ipsum dolor sit amet lorem ipsum dolor sit amet.

The bookmark icon allows you to save any story to your account to read it later
Tap it once to save, and tap it again to unsave

It looks like you’re using an ad-blocker!

Pro Builder is an advertisting supported site and we noticed you have ad-blocking enabled in your browser. There are two ways you can keep reading:

Disable your ad-blocker
Disable now
Subscribe to Pro Builder
Subscribe
Already a member? Sign in
Become a Member

Subscribe to Pro Builder for unlimited access

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.