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DESIGNING A HOME THAT WILL WITHSTAND CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES

STEEL BUILDINGS MAY COST MORE TO ERECT, THEIR RESILIENCE MAKES THE UPFRONT INVESTMENT WORTH IT

CONTACT CALIFORNIA CONTRACTORS

CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES

Wildfires in California have devastated huge swaths of the state in recent years. In 2019 alone, more than 4.7 million acres of land were burned, costing land and property owners billions of dollars in damages.

In July of 2018, the Mendocino Complex Fire spread at an unfathomable rate that was much faster than firefighters could keep up with, resulting in financial losses eclipsing the $257 million mark. Because of the unpredictable nature of California wildfires, more and more real estate developers are shifting their focus to designing homes and commercial buildings that are specifically engineered to withstand the worst that Mother Nature can dole out.

While these buildings may cost more to erect, their resilience in the face of infernal wildfires makes the upfront investment well worth it.

STARTING WITH STEEL

In the wake of recent California wildfires, architects and builders have returned to the drawing board to develop best practices in home and commercial building design. The first fundamental concept they can all agree on is the advantage of a steel-framed building over a wood-framed one.

Why is this? The answer lies in physics:

  • The flashpoint for wood (how hot the temperature has to get in order for it to combust) is 572°F.
  • The melting point of steel is 2,570°F.
  • California wildfires can burn as hot as 1,472°F.
This image is of a Capital Steel metal building framing. The picture really makes it clear why steel is the most resilient to natural forces.

Therefore, even when California wildfires are burning at their hottest, steel is going to remain uncompromised. Conversely, any wood material is going to be incinerated without anything remaining except ash and charred remnants.

Opting for steel construction in California has other benefits, too. One of the most attractive is a shorter build time. On average, steel buildings can be erected 40% faster than wood-framed or brick buildings. The reason for this is because steel buildings are prefabricated and kitted, resulting in an easy, straightforward build that doesn’t have as many phases involved when compared with wood-framed buildings.

What’s more, steel buildings are more energy efficient, a great feature for California, where temperatures can easily exceed 120°F. The deep-channel walls that are integral to the design of steel buildings allow for the use of extra insulation which, in turn, reduces cooling costs during the sweltering California summers.

wood frame homes are weaker than steel

OTHER BUILDING CONSIDERATIONS

In addition to using steel as the framing material for new residential or commercial buildings in California, some other steps can be taken to help ensure the structure stands up well to abrupt wildfire outbreaks.

The Steps Include

  • Designing the site layout to incorporate a 100’ distance between structures and any combustible material.
  • Using ignition-resistant roofing. As attractive as Spanish Tile roofing may be, it allows for the entrance of wind-blown brands and embers. A Galvalume or standing seam steel roof does not.
  • Opting for double-glazed, tempered glass windows.
  • Incorporating specially designed roof soffits, cantilevered balconies, decks, and underfloor areas. These are areas that can be especially vulnerable during a wildfire.

Even though California has become known for its destructive wildfires, it’s not the only state that has to contend with them. Nevada, Oregon, Oklahoma, and Idaho are also especially prone to wildfires, which means fire-proofing new building construction is something architects and builders throughout the country are focused on.

At Capital Steel Industries, we’re proud to connect vetted, local steel building contractors with those who need high-quality, durable steel buildings they can rely on for decades, even in states where wildfires pose a significant risk.

If you’re in the market for a new steel building in California, or if you’re a contractor that would like to become part of the Capital Steel Industries family, please contact us today. We look forward to working with you!