Erin looks to encourage more wind-resistent construction

·3 min read

The Town of Erin is preparing for the worst.

Town staff are looking to establish an incentive program to entice constructors to design and construct hurricane ties on new buildings. This will have them go over, and above the prescribed building code requirements as hurricane ties are not a prescribed requirement.

“This is a topic that has been on the radar for a while,” Paul Evans, director of building/enforcement and chief building official. “There are the changes to the environment, and then this is an item that builders can use to alleviate any potential damage from any changes in the environment.”

Hurricane ties can protect buildings from extreme wind events, including tornadoes rated as high as F-2. A tornado of this calibre will spiral around with winds gusting as fast as 181 to 250 kilometres an hour.

Dufferin County has adopted a hurricane clip rebate program to install hurricane clips on new structures as an incentive to home builders. Once the installation has been approved, the county pays $4.50 per clip, with the county contributing $3 and the Institute of Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR) providing the remaining $1.50. In a subdivision of 1,400 new houses with 75 ties each, the cost to a municipality would be about $315,000.

Mayor Allan Alls asked Evans if he would consider adding hurricane clips to his own house for protection.

“Farm buildings are a great example, as they almost always utilize them,” said Evans. “I don’t know if it’s for insurance purposes or what the case may be, but if it’s on the drawings, they have to build it out as per the drawings. But if it’s not on the drawings, we can make a recommendation but can’t force them to do it.”

Coun.Robin Smith wondered if insurance companies would give a price reduction with clips in place.

“Your insurance gets reduce if you have a home alarm system, and your insurance gets reduce if you’re close to a fire hydrant,” said Smith. “I would think the insurance company would give you some reduction.”

Coun. Jamie Cheyne said home insurance rates don't necessarily factor into builders' considerations.

“If a builder is coming in to do a subdivision, they’re trying to make as much money as possible, and they don’t care about the insurance ramifications,” said Cheyne. “The incentive plan does bear merit for that reason. If it weren’t going to pay the insurance, I wouldn’t necessarily worry about it. If I’m a good builder, I would.”

Administration notes homes in Ontario are built to keep the roof down, but severe winds will suck the top upward, potentially leading to wall failure or worse. A hurricane tie provides a connection between the roof framing and the wall framing, and when installed correctly and with the addition of proper nailing, there is less chance of an uplift and less chance of roof, wall and structural damage.

Hurricane ties, clips and straps come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and installation configurations. Hurricane tie and clips range in price from less than $1 to about $3 each. A heavy strap is around $6. An average house may use 60 to 100 ties and require about two to four hours to install.

This comes as tornadoes have hit communities in Ontario in recent years, including Kinburn near Ottawa in 2018, Hawkesville in 2017, Angus in 2014, Goderich in 2011 and Durham to Blue Mountain in 2009. In all cases, roofs were ripped from houses, barns and sheds. Intense hurricanes destroyed parks, homes and businesses.

Joshua Santos, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Orangeville Banner