LaHouse - Built Safer, Stronger, Smarter

Patricia Skinner, Scallan, Sandra  |  8/6/2007 1:15:03 AM

The Louisiana House Home & Landscape Resource Center (LaHouse) is an LSU AgCenter showcase facility on the south side of the Baton Rouge campus. It has become a hub of statewide education for hazard-resistant housing, addressing the special challenges of Louisiana’s natural hazards and climate.

Built Safer, Stronger, Smarter

LaHouse is a showcase for best practices and code-plus construction. Its flood- and wind-resistance features meet or exceed the criteria of the Fortified for Safer Living program of the Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS).

Flood

LaHouse is in Flood Zone “AE,” with a Base Flood Elevation (BFE) of 24 feet. The minimum code requirement nationally for homes in Zone AE is to have the lowest floor at the BFE. Baton Rouge requires a foot above BFE, or BFE +1. The Fortified program requires BFE +2. The house and teaching center at LaHouse are protected to a design flood elevation (DFE) of BFE +3.

The house is elevated; the teaching center will be dry floodproofed (see Special Features). Use of flood-resistant materials and methods in some places further protects the structure, should flooding exceed BFE+3.

Wind

Baton Rouge is in the 100-110-mph wind speed zone. To meet the “Fortified” 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).

Water

South Louisiana has a hot, humid climate with average rainfall exceeding 60 inches per year. We spend twice as much time cooling homes as we do heating them. During the cooling time condensation occurs inside exterior walls. Water that is trapped in walls, keeping building materials wet, 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 condensate that does form.

Many of the water-resistance techniques are best construction practices; some are required by code.

LaHouse showcases multiple solutions across a range of price-points, integrating durability with other goals of sustainability: resource efficient, healthy, practical and convenient.

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