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RE: Why more Sheathing than in Zone 4???????

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Dennis, I think the answer is it would cost more.  Labor: any one can pound nails but not everyone can lay bricks.  Time: a good crew can frame and sheath a house in less than two weeks; it may take more than twice that for masonry block. 


-----Original Message-----
From: Dennis Wish [mailto:dennis.wish(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Saturday, September 27, 2003 2:33 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at); light_framing(--nospam--at)
Subject: Why more Sheathing than in Zone 4???????


I have just made my third cross-country drive from Southern California to Chicago since 1999. In my travels I look at construction in other areas and only in the highest risk area of Southern California do I find plywood or OSB sheathing used miserly. It is not uncommon to find entire homes - from the very basic to the most advanced, completely sheathed in Plywood or OSB including areas in low risk zones such as Oklahoma, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri (west of the New Madrid Fault). So why are we in Southern California playing with fire. We have the highest average cost for a residential home and with a 15% deductible for Earthquake coverage, we will have the highest out-of-pocket expense to repair of all areas.

My cousin, who was a former Architect in California, moved to Charleston South Carolina and was on his way home when Isabel hit the coast of Georgia with the perimeter meeting South Carolina. When I contacted him, I found that his apartment, located on a small island west of Charleston, was constructed of masonry block and suffered no damage or property loss. I was also pleased at the performance of homes in area hardest hit which learned from Hurricane Andrew the importance of hurricane clips.

My question still remains - why, in an area of highest risk for earthquakes, do we allow homes to be designed so flexibly - either by engineering controlled by the desire of the developer or by conventional construction means - when we know that these homes - the majority of residential structures built and occupied by those who can least afford the deductible - will suffer more damage than we have seen in Northridge or Loma Prieta if all things are equal and more if the San Andreas moves with greater force.

I don't see the codes helping, except to drive developers to lower standards.


I heard the words from Gandhi" First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, next they become angered by you and finally change is brought about". Is the professional community still ignoring me or am I only a laughing stock?


Dennis S. Wish, PE