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Housing for Hurricanes: LaHouse serves as a model for Louisiana homes

The LSU AgCenter’s LaHouse is designed to hold up against strong winds and flooding and serves as a model for how to build homes with hurricane-resistant features.

LaHouse is an educational resource for homeowners, home builders and architects in the methods that can be used to make homes more user- and resource-friendly. The center is located on a 7-acre site near the LSU Golf Course off of Nicholson Drive at 2858 Gourrier Avenue in Baton Rouge. It is across the street from the new Alex Box Baseball Stadium.

Visit LaHouse and learn more. The hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. It is closed during LSU AgCenter holidays. Group tours are available by calling 225-578-7913.

Built Safer, Stronger, Smarter

LaHouse is a showcase for best practices and code-plus construction. For flood protection the house is elevated. Use of flood-resistant materials and methods in some places further protects the structure.

Baton Rouge is in the 100-110 mph wind speed zone. To meet requirements, LaHouse is designed to resist the forces of 130 mph winds. The geometry and dimensions contribute to inherent wind resistance. Its length is less that twice its width. It has no more than two stories, and ceiling heights do not exceed 10 feet.

Hurricane hardware and structural sheathing tie the roof to the walls and the walls to the foundation to create a continuous load path that transfers wind forces on the house down to the ground. Roofing and other external materials are impact-resistant and installed to high-wind specifications. Windows and doors are placed so they do not impair resistance to horizontal wind forces. Openings are protected either by installing hurricane-rated units or by providing external protection (impact-resistant shutters, panels and screens).

South Louisiana has a hot, humid climate with average rainfall exceeding 60 inches per year. Residents spend twice as much time cooling homes as they do heating them. During the cooling time, condensation occurs inside exterior walls. Water trapped in walls can result in mold, wood rot and insect infestation. LaHouse is built to:

  • Shed rainwater and direct it away from the foundation.
  • Catch water when it does get in through roofing, cladding or window and door frames.
  • Minimize moisture penetration and condensation in walls.
  • Provide drainage and drying potential for any condensation that does form.

Window Openings

Protecting the window openings of a house is probably one of the most important steps to take to protect the home dwellers and their belongings. When a hurricane hits, high winds and pounding rains are the result. Because of their vulnerabilities, it is important to protect windows and window openings. Installing storm shutters or impact-resistant windows are two methods to use for protecting window openings. LaHouse has examples of how to protect window openings. Learn more at Protecting Window Openings.


A hip roof is used for most of LaHouse because it is more aerodynamically resistant to high winds than a gable roof. The roof pitch, 6:12, is strategically designed to minimize leaks and wind loads, yet ensure that water sheds away from the foundation.

Hurricane straps and clips connect rafters. Straps wrap rafters, securing them to the walls. In the teaching center, hurricane hardware connects the rim band to the top plate, which has anchors in the concrete walls. Framing lumber is secured to the rim band with hurricane straps. Soffits and soffit vents made of perforated fiber cement will be attached securely to framing members.

Metal roofing is impact-resistant, wind-resistant and recyclable. Hidden fasteners reduce leaks. Extra screws and edge details create 130-mph wind resistance. Panels are fabricated on site and “snap-locked” into place. High tech “cool color” coating reflects heat like a light color, saving energy and extending roof life.

More Features

The ground slopes away from the house to prevent water soaking through the foundation or creating a condition of constant high humidity on walls.

Sewer lines have backflow valves to reduce the potential for the flooded sewer system to back up into the house.

All electrical wiring, plumbing outlets, heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment and other mechanicals are at the same level of protection from flood as the main structure. Parts of elevated systems that must extend below the flood line are designed to prevent entry of floodwater.

Visit the LaHouse website and learn more.

The LSU AgCenter is one of 11 institutions of higher education in the Louisiana State University System. Headquartered in Baton Rouge, it provides educational services in every parish and conducts research that contributes to the economic development of the state. The LSU AgCenter does not grant degrees nor benefit from tuition increases. The LSU AgCenter plays an integral role in supporting agricultural industries, enhancing the environment, and improving the quality of life through its 4-H youth, family and community programs.

Last Updated: 8/20/2014 9:21:25 AM

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