Room with a View, Part 1

By: Danny Lipford

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This house on the Alabama Gulf Coast has a beautiful view of Mobile Bay, but the homeowners’ haven’t been able to enjoy it since Hurricane Katrina destroyed their deck in 2005. To remedy the problem, we’re adding a 500-square-foot addition—along with two porches, a deck, and a swimming pool.

The scenic view comes with a price, since the addition must be built strong enough to stand up to the hurricanes that often sweep through the area. Extra planning and beefed up construction are needed to try and keep history from repeating itself. In addition, stringent new building codes must be followed and permissions secured in order for the work to proceed.


Once the location for the addition had been laid out, excavation on the foundation began. A shallow trench was dug to guide the backhoe which removed the bulk of the dirt. When excavation was compete, reinforcing rods were cut to fit and the footings poured.

Since the lot sloped down to the water, a high concrete block foundation wall was needed to make the addition level with the existing house. Rather than using standard concrete block covered with brick, split-faced blocks were used to give the wall a finished appearance.

Once the blocks had been laid, the walls were filled with concrete to further strengthen them against a storm surge. Steel straps were added to the concrete to tie the foundation directly to the wood framing for the floor.

Swimming Pool

Excavation for the swimming pool next to the addition was done at the same time as the other foundation work.

After the shape of the pool had been established, steel reinforcement was used to add strength to the walls, and the concrete for the bottom and sides was applied. The coping around the edge of the pool was covered with tile and topped with stone.

Floor Framing

When the concrete in the foundation walls had set, the framing of the addition began. The heavy duty 18’ long floor joists were put in place, followed by the subfloor.

Wall Framing

The walls for the addition were framed and raised next. Since much of the main wall facing the water was composed of three 9’x 9’ window units, it was important to make the framing between them as strong as possible.

The steel straps that had been embedded in the concrete foundation were attached to the wood framing to tie the entire structure together. Once the walls were in place, framing of the ceiling and roof could begin.

Ceiling Framing

The ceiling joists and rafters add strength to the overall structure of a building, which can make a real difference when faced with the possibility of winds over 100 miles per hour during a hurricane.

Laminated beams were used to span the width of the addition and tie the walls to the main structure of the house. Ceiling joists were then installed at right angles to the heavy beams to give additional support and provide a way to attach the drywall for the ceiling.

Roof Framing

The ridge board for the roof attached to the main roof of the house. Due to their long length, the rafters had to be pieced together from two pieces of lumber joined together with a diagonal scarf joint and reinforced on each side with plywood gussets.

The rafters were supported every few feet by vertical struts attached to the ceiling joists, along with steel hurricane straps to tie each one to the walls. To keep the overhang on the gable end of the roof from damaging the remainder of the roof in high winds, it was built to break away if the wind is too strong.

Once all the framing was complete, the roof was decked in plywood and covered with asphalt shingles that matched the roof on the rest of the house.

Windows and Doors

When building in hurricane prone areas, the type of windows used plays an important role in determining whether the home will survive a storm. For maximum protection, special laminated glass was used for the addition. ImpactGard glass has an interlayer of plastic sandwiched between two sheets of glass to keep the window intact during high winds or windblown debris.

Since the large window units for this project weighed 600 pounds each, installing them took quite a bit of effort. Once they had been set in place, the window and door units were carefully leveled and secured to the framing. The flange around the outside was then sealed with a self-adhesive flashing material for a watertight seal.

Find out more at Room with a View, Part 2.

For more information visit our Room with a View website.

Other Tips from This Episode

Extension Cord Carrier

Simple Solutions with Joe Truini:
Extension Cord Carrier

A 5-gallon bucket is perfect for storing and carrying an extension cord. Drill a hole near the bottom of the bucket, feed the male plug on the cord through the hole, and store the rest of the cord inside. To use, set the cord next to an electrical outlet, and plug it in. Remove the cord from the bucket when in use to prevent heat build up.

ThermaCELL Area Mosquito Repellent

Best New Products with Jodi Marks:
ThermaCELL Mosquito Repellent

ThermaCELL mosquito repellent provides an odorless 15’ x 15’ mosquito-free zone around you wherever you go. The butane cartridge inside the unit vaporizes the insecticide on the repellent pad to provide protection in a matter of minutes. ThermaCELL mosquito appliances are available at The Home Depot.

Foam Soybean Insulation

Thinking Green with Danny Lipford:
Foam Soybean Insulation

Spray foam insulation made from soybeans is both environmentally friendly and energy efficient. When the liquid material is sprayed on a surface, it expands up to 100 times its original size to seal any cracks and gaps. Soybean insulation does not release VOCs as some foams do and can save up to 50% on energy bills.



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