Building to Survive in Wildfire Country
Don’t get burned: The right materials and details are a start. Landscaping and regular maintenance can help. But even these steps sometimes aren’t enough.
Synopsis: In this special report, contributing writer Scott Gibson takes a look at the devastation left by the 2017 California Wildfires, and addresses whether code requirements saved some dwellings, and whether a review of the building codes is due in the wake of the devastation. He describes the differences between combustible, noncombustible, ignition-resistant, and fire-resistant materials and where they should be used. The article includes an illustration of defensive details to give a home the greatest chance of surviving a wildfire, including recommendations for landscaping, roofs, windows, and doors, and outbuildings.
If you want to build a house in the state of California, you’ll first have to consult a set of maps to find out whether the property is in what’s called a “fire hazard severity zone.” If it is, you’ll be required to follow specific construction guidelines designed to minimize the chance the house will burn down in one of…