Frame vs Concrete Construction
I have a house on STX that I am very interested in purchasing. It is very close to the ocean and exposed to the weather. I love the location, love the opportunities with the house but it is stick framed. Now I am faced with the decision to tear down the house and rebuild using concrete or keep the house as it is and hold on tight when the winds come or just pass on the purchase altogether. Is my fear of purchasing a frame house so close to the shoreline unfounded? Has anyone encountered this decision and what did you do? Thanks for your thoughts!!
Many West Indian style homes are wooden and have survived the winds of time. The hip roof architecture provides less resistance than other roof designs when the openings are tightly shuttered. -MHO- The closeness to the water should not be a huge factor unless you are so close that storm surge will affect it.Exposed to the weather ? Who isn't? The saltwater environment will erode fittings, fastenings, and some structural components however.
No question that a concrete building will have different issues, but is likely stronger.
Maintenance of the wood will be an ongoing and important part of living there.
Stick framed? Are there substantial and well designed [!] hurricane clips,straps and supports? Plywood, and similar products on any external walls will not last. Any wood that touches the ground will be an avenue for termites and wood borers. Any overhangs that are attached to the main roof beams may contribute to movement in high winds. Has this house been through the hurricanes of recent years? Was it truly designed to be in a tropical environment - Wind-Sun-Bugs-etc? or someones dream of what an island home should look like?
Really if you are solid on the location maybe the empty lot next door is for sale?
You shouldn't try to upgrade or strengthen the house if it is really substandard to begin with if you stick with wooden houses.
Thanks for the thoughts and opinions. The home has survived for quite a while so far. It was remodeled just after Hugo but I am not sure how extensive that "remodel" was at the time. I'm headed back to STX to get more information on this and other homes I am looking at.
It does have a hip roof but I have not had a chance to explore any wall composition or if it has clips or other supports (thanks Exit Zero for your thoughts). If the walls are plywood, etc.. I would think that a cement board (Hardi-plank) would be a good investment to keep the wood munching critters out.
"lip" - I love the philosophy. You may have convinced me to keep this one in the mix for sure. Thanks!!!
it definitely would depend on the specific house as not all houses are built equally well, no matter what style of construction. I've seen some very well built wood framed houses on STX and some that were thrown up by someone clueless about what a strong wind would do. I have a listing right now that has part of the property wood framed and part of it concrete. That house was well designed to take wind into effect. It may not survive another Hugo, but it just might. Since wood framed houses are often substantially less than neighboring concrete homes, even with the higher insurance expense it may be a better deal financially. And, heck, if it does blow away someday, you can rebuild in concrete. Life throws surprises at you and all you can do is deal with them as they come along. I'm dealing with a concrete house with issues right now myself, so concrete is no guarantee, either!
As a former builder in Maine I built a lot of frame houses and Alexandra is right that the integrity of the house depends on the builder. If the house was remodeled after Hugo then all the clips and anchors were probably installed. If you have an interior wall that is perpendicular to the outside walls you can make it into a sheer wall by anchoring it and properly installing plywood. A couple of sheer walls along with shutters could go a long way to keeping your roof on in a blow and could have a positive effect on your insurance rate.
Get a thourough termite inspection. If you love the house and the spot, that's the most important thing.
"If the house was remodeled after Hugo then all the clips and anchors were probably installed."
That could be a BIG "probably". Not everyone hires out remodeling or repairs needed on their house. Nor is everyone that is for hire knowledgable in the best construction methods. Not everyone gets every permit or inspection needed, especially after an event such as Hugo when everything is in caos and the local government regulators can't keep up with such activities.
Along with the termite inspection, one should always get a good thourough home inspection.
Repairs after Hugo did not need to be done much differently than before H-- We were able to rebuild our cottage after Hugo in the exact same way as before, and made another big profit on the insurance when H. Marilyn blew it away for the second time. When we wnt to rebuild a year after Marilyn the codes had changed, as well as the availability and price of insurance.
The chaos beepajeep referenced after Hugo had many people scrambling for anyone who knew which end of the hammer worked - beachy referenced the code change after Marilynn but the rebuilding after Hugo had no hurr***ne codes and the devastation in 1989 really caused a shortage of materials and labor and that urgency resulted in much shoddy repair work and actually contributed to the amount of damage that Marilyn caused.
Get the home inspection and have an engineer check the structure.