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Zion Builders Blog

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  • Writer's pictureRobert Smith

How Does the Nevada Environment Affect Your Backyard Building Space? - Building Safely and to Code

Updated: Dec 16, 2023


The beautiful Nevada environment that we live in is a blessing! But we want to share with you some things you'll want to know when considering what you want your backyard to look like, and who should be building it.


Here are some things to consider:


Earthquakes


You may not realize that Northern Nevada is seismically active. The amount seismic activity varies from area to area, but we have at least four hazard zones, ranging from moderate to high. The highest being along the Sierra Nevada and in and around Lake Tahoe. Knowing which zone you are located in is important and must be addressed in the planning and building of your project.


Wind


This seems obvious, but what is not so obvious is to what degree the wind affects a structure. How much of an effect the wind has is called the “wind load” or as it is sometimes referred to as “live load.” This effect (load) varies and changes often. Worse case scenarios are calculated and used so the structure has the best chance possible of surviving high winds that are common in northern Nevada.


Snow


Different areas receive varying amounts of snow but again, worse case scenarios are used to calculate the possible effect of snow weight on a structure. These are called “snow loads” or “dead loads,” which mean that the effect is constant and does not change often. Because snow accumulation varies with higher altitudes, the area of the location of the project is an important part of the design of your structure.


Fire


Wildfires are always a concern in the Mid-West. That is why defensible space around your home is critical. Northern Nevada also has urban interface in forested areas with a high possibility of rapid-fire spread. Specific codes for these regions are called International Wildland-Urban Interface Code (IWUIC). These codes have strict requirements on building materials, defensible spaces, and almost always require engineering. Zion has done several jobs in IWUIC areas and is familiar with how and what materials to use to build in these areas.


Soil


As you can imagine, soil conditions vary as much as snow and rain amounts. The worse soils we have in our area to build on are the several different types of clay. One of the bad properties of clay is that it expands (and sometimes a great deal) when it gets wet. Expansive clay can lift the foundation of a building. Obviously, this must be considered in the design of any permanent structure. 


What does Zion Builders do?


Zion Builders has detailed engineering for all these considerations and more to ease your mind that your project will be built correctly and withstand the environmental conditions in northern Nevada.

We think it's important to work smarter AND harder, so we won't be skipping any steps. Your backyard space is important, and can greatly increase the value of your property! Don't just let anyone take care of it, hire professionals!

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