Creating a Structure to Withstand the Elements

There are many considerations when designing a structure, but one of the most important is, “Will it stand up against the elements?” Whether you’re building a shed or commercial building, it has to be strong enough to withstand all the weather that West Texas has to offer.

When designing any structure, it is essential to know the climate and other risks for an area. Is the location at risk for natural disasters such as flood, tornadoes, or earthquakes? Once you identify the dangers, you can work to manage them.

First of all, if the structure will be subject to inspection, there are numerous requirements intended to protect against difficult weather. You can exceed these guidelines for added safety, but make sure you are up to code.


West Texas Wind

In West Texas, the wind is a major consideration. The average wind speed in Lubbock is over 12 miles per hour, and it can reach over 30 miles per hour. Lubbock is also in the infamous Tornado Alley. The average tornado in the United States has wind speeds of 112 miles per hour, but they can go much higher. In 1970, an F5 tornado hit Lubbock’s central business district. An F5 tornado is the most severe, with winds over 300 miles per hour.

Whenever possible, use hurricane ties on your wood construction connections. Hurricane ties combined with liquid nails are stronger than a Kevlar strap. The cost of labor and materials is cheaper than replacing or repairing a roof or deck.

Make sure you properly anchor your structure. If a foundation is involved, proper anchor bolts must be used. For fence posts or the supports of a play fort, a third of the post should be underground. For instance, a six-foot fence should have posts that extend at least three feet underground.

The wind isn’t the only thing to consider in West Texas. Other things to consider are snow, drought, and flood-like conditions. In the event of significant snowfall, can the roof support the extra weight of snow? During a drought, will the foundation handle the changes in soil density? Could it handle the extra water in a flood situation?

All of these weather conditions are important to think about when building or remodeling a structure whether it be commercial or residential.


The Value of Working with Professionals

When you’re planning a construction project, extreme weather introduces big risks and liabilities. If you want a sturdy and safe design, always go with an experienced architecture firm. WCA Design Studio has designed everything from large commercial sites to backyard projects, and we pay careful attention to every detail. We understand the demands that West Texas puts on a building, and our designs stand up to all that the High Plains has to offer.

Building structures strong enough to withstand bad weather is an architecture course in itself. Hopefully, these suggestions can give you an idea how to get started. If you’d like to consult with a specialist, contact WCA Design Studio.


More Info:

Structural Engineering

Wind Speed at Lubbock, Texas

Windstorm Resistant Construction Guide

Design of Residential Structures Against Strong Wind Forces