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Re: holdowns @ stucco walls

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Mark and Jessica -

Though stucco and gyp board are not officially removed from the Code as shear
walls, I never use them as such.  The performance is very poor.  In my
opinion, definitely go with the plywood for any designed shear wall.  For that
matter, I would be in favor of a "standard construction provision" in the Code
that required the exterior of all wood framed buildings in Seismic Zone 4 to
be sheathed in 1/2" plywood.  The industry standard seems to be approaching
this anyway. 

Also, I make it standard practice to add holddowns at the ends of all my shear
wall, eve if there is no calculated uplift.  I do this for two reasons.
First, it is good practice and provides a nice foundation connection for your
end post.  Second, it helps to clarify in the contractor's (and inspector's)
mind where your shear wall is intended to be.  It sets a good example for them
as well for future projects.  The added cost of a couple of these holddowns is
marginal.

Good luck.

Bruce Resnick, SE
Parker Resnick Str. Eng.