APA Media Center News Release
RELEASE #: C12-2007
DATE: September 10, 2007
CONTACT: Jack Merry, Industry Communications, Phone: (253) 620-7413, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Multifamily Construction on Fast Pace in Post-Katrina Louisiana and Mississippi
Multifamily construction is leading the way back for replacement housing in the Hurricane Katrina-torn Gulf Coast states of Louisiana and Mississippi.
Multifamily building permits are projected this year to exceed those issued in 2006 by almost 30 percent in Louisiana and more than 200 percent in Mississippi. And this year’s permit volumes are up some 2.5 times from those in 2004, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics.
The multifamily construction explosion is even more pronounced in the New Orleans and Gulfport-Biloxi metropolitan areas, where permits this year are expected to exceed last year’s by 460 and 580 percent, respectively.
"Multifamily has become the means to provide the most shelter in the shortest period of time," explains Craig Adair, market research director at APA—The Engineered Wood Association. "And that’s critical to housing the labor force that is needed to support the rebuilding efforts, he noted."
APA is among a number of wood products industry associations that collectively, as the Wood Products Council (WPC), are working to bring wood construction solutions to the Gulf Coast’s massive reconstruction challenge. The Council also has launched a multi-year nonresidential wood construction educational and promotional campaign throughout North America.
The WPC's Gulf Coast program consists of several components, including consumer promotion of raised wood floors for mitigating storm water damage, training of builders on raised floor and hurricane-resistant wood wall and roof construction systems, and collaboration with code officials and building inspectors to help assure proper wood product specification and application.
The raised wood floor component of the program (www.raisedfloorliving.com) is headed up by the Southern Pine Council, a joint promotional body of the Southern Forest Products Association and Southeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association. It is based in Kenner, Louisiana. APA (www.apawood.org), based in Tacoma, Washington, is primarily responsible for builder education and training, while the Washington, D.C.-headquartered American Wood Council (www.awc.org) is the alliance's chief building code liaison group.
In contrast to the multifamily sector, permits for single-family construction in the two states and in both the New Orleans and Gulfport-Biloxi metropolitan areas remain down from last year, although permit issuances are near or higher than those in the year prior to the storm. The exception is New Orleans, where the population is now only about 60 percent of what it was prior to Katrina.
One of the chief obstacles to faster recovery is that base flood elevations have yet to be established by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which in turn clouds the ability to insure new and repaired structures. High land costs and a shortage of skilled construction workers also have hampered the rebuilding effort.
The raised wood floor system is the centerpiece of WPC’s rebuilding education efforts because compared with other options—concrete slab atop dirt fill, slab on backfilled perimeter wall, or ring levee—it often is the most practical and cost-effective way to protect buildings and meet local building ordinances in flood prone areas. The system provides other benefits as well—simplicity, insulating properties, ease of improving or repairing utility lines, durability, uplifting comfort and classic style, among others.
Promotion of wind-resistant lateral load design also is a key element of the program. APA, which has conducted high wind and seismic load tests in its Research Center for years, recently developed a wall bracing web site (www.wallbracing.org), installed state-of-the-art combined shear and uplift test equipment, and co-authored a wood wall bracing guide with the International Code Council (ICC).
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Based in Tacoma, Washington, APA represents approximately 160 structural wood panel, glulam timber, wood I-joist, and laminated veneer lumber mills throughout North America. Its primary functions are quality auditing and testing, applied research, and market support and development.