Wind Mitigation Number of Stories

I have a unique scenario in determining the number of stories. A client has a house built on a steep grade (especially for Florida). The rear of the home clearly has exposure of two full stories where the bottom floor opens to a pool deck. The entire perimeter of the home has exposure of the basement above ground level, although some is only estimated at 4 to 5 foot of exposure above grade. Egress windows surround the home at or above ground level. My main question is… does the area he calls a “basement” qualify as a second story. My take on the Wind Mitigation training says that if the “basement” is exposed and is utilized as anything other than a garage, storage, or building access, than it should be counted. The material says to measure living space below the soffits. If the area has anything “livable” I would think the 7 foot rule does not apply. The area is mostly storage, but does have some livable area. such as a bathroom for the pool so I called it a 2 story home. Can anyone please give me some insight? He is an engineer and is insistent that I am wrong. I would be glad to change this if I am , but need a seasoned inspectors opinion. Thank you.

My understanding is, if ANY portion of the perimeter of the basement is less than 7 ft, as long as it is not living space, it does not count. A bathroom is not livable space.

2 stories. The 7’ rule has nothing to do with being living space or not. If the “basement” walls are exposed to the wind, it counts as an additional floor. This is also true for stilt homes. It really doesn’t affect the outcome of the 1802 as long it remains under 4 stories.

For Sharding: My only question is it doesn’t specify livable space, it simply gives a “pass” for garages, storage and building access.

For Brad: So even if the space is literally a storage space, and a portion is less than 7’ it doesn’t matter. Still 2 stories? If you could elaborate or reference something I would appreciate. He is questioning everything I have said to him. We has a lengthy discussion about his roof not being hip too. He has a flat portion that, although it is a reinforced concrete roof deck over his garage, the roof is structurally attached to his home. I counted it in non-hip features. I understand why he thinks it’s not “fair”. He even sent me a definition of the word Gable, thinking I was calculating the parapet wall as gable. I had to elaborate that the form asks for non-hip features and not gable.

Like I said, the use of the space makes no difference as far as structure goes for the 1802. That may be a concern for other insurance reasons such as flood insurance, but not for the 1802. It really doesn’t matter much since there are no dings for being a 2 story vs a one story.

If you want to send me the report, I will give you my opinion of the gray areas your client is concerned with on the roof. See email below…

Higher than 7’ equals a story. If it is on stilts and one section is greater than 7’ than it is two stories.

You could post some images if you need more help.

Brad: I will forward the report. He is highly concerned that his rates will be higher with the Mitigation reading 2 stories instead of one. As far as the hip credit, I included a narrative at the bottom of the form to send to underwriters explaining. I checked the roof as “Other”, but requested credit in the narrative. If his garage was detached, the roof would be 90% hip, but the garage with the flat roof is attached. His discrepancy is that the flat roof is reinforced concrete and will not effect the shingle roof, but I told him the form doesn’t account for that. It simply asks for non hip features. The form doesn’t ask for non hip features that will effect the rest of the roof.

John: This was done late in the day and I didn’t take many pictures. To me it is obviously 2 stories, so it didn’t even dawn on me to get extra pics. It only came up when the client started questioning the report. If I have to re-inspect I will certainly get more and post. Thank you.

[quote=“mkorr, post:4, topic:82779”]

For Sharding: My only question is it doesn’t specify livable space, it simply gives a “pass” for garages, storage and building access.
Habitable space is space designed for living, sleeping, eating, or cooking. From the description you have given, that space would not count as a story.
The seven foot requirement is from the lowest supporting member to the highest grade. So if some parts of the basement “appear” to be four or five feet, it does not count as a story.

[quote=“sharding, post:8, topic:82779”]

Not true. If any section is over 7’ (exposed), an additional story is counted. It does not matter if living space or not. An open ground floor stilt home with 2 habitable floors is considered a 3 story structure on the 1802.

[quote=“btoye, post:9, topic:82779”]

Brad, what are you basing that statement on? Do you have any documentation to show that? All the paperwork I’ve seen say the other way round.

Very confusing. The InterNACHI material in my interpretation reads that on a home with pilings/piers, the measurement is taken from the highest elevation. So if most of the exposure is 8 feet and at the highest grade, only 5 feet is exposed, than it is not counted. Am I reading that wrong? This house is not pilings or piers anyway though, but that is where it seemed livable space and/or space that is not a garage/building access or storage came into play. In InterNACHI’s Wind Mit training, under chapter 1.Getting Started, Number of Stories. I based some of my conclusion on the middle bullet on the Procedures Section as well as the very last sentence on the page. But had there not been a bathroom, and all was storage, garage and access, I don’t know how I could prove to the customer that it should be 2 stories. I think Brad’s method is more simple than InterNACHI’s . If the basement is exposed to the wind it is a an additional story, which was my original theory but without proof. Thank you all.

A Bathroom does NOT count as living space. Look at the FBC for the definition. As far as whether it is a story your definition is right. It states from the highest grade to the lowest support. So, as you said, if part of it is five feet then it does not count as a story.

I’ll look at the class this weekend. The intention was: If there is 7’ of exposed elevation(living or not living) then it a story.

[quote=“sharding, post:10, topic:82779”]

After looking at my old training book (same material as the Nachi course), I stand corrected on one part. You are right that the 7’ measurement is taken at the “highest grade”. I don’t have that situation too much in my area, so I forgot that part. That said, Matt’s partially exposed basement would not count as a story unless it is living space (heated). A stilt home still counts the ground floor if more than 7’ from highest grade, living space or not, enclosed or not.

Everybody confused now?

The data point is to define the buildings mean roof height by stories. If there is a steep grade on one side and you have at least 7 feet under any story you have a 2 story. Habitable or non-habitable is not a factor, the resulting mean roof height is the factor in determining the wind resitance and potential for loss.

Whether or not the insureds coverage is increased or not should be irrelevant to an impartial inspector, getting it right is the main concern.

If there is living space, above grade, regardless of height it is a story. If there is no living space then it depends on the height from the highest grade to the lowest support. More than 7’ it’s counted as a story, less than 7’ it is not. In theory you could have one side with an exposure of 15’, but the opposite side having only five feet, it does not count as a story (unless it is habitable space).
Mean roof height has nothing to do with the 1802.

I believe that the mean roof height has everything to do with this, and that is the intent on providing the number of stories. What I don’t understand is how a structure with 10’ pilings and a built up grade on one corner at 6’, by definition, does not count as a story…just doesn’t make sense to me.

Another note worth mentioning is that converted attic space into living space does not count as an additional story if created under the existing roof structure.

A lot of the form doesn’t make much sense. It is an amalgamation of a lot of different ideas, put together to try and make an easy to prepare form, that can be filled out by a large group of people with relatively little training.
The truth is the differing factors that go into deciding whether a building has features that allow it to withstand a major windstorm are not that simple. The form has been designed to be filled out by people that really have no idea of the underlying engineering involved in the design and building of the structures, or of the forces that are brought to bear on the structure during a storm.
Also whether those features that have been installed, were installed correctly plays no part in whether credits are given or not.
It would seem to make more sense, to me, to go from the lowest grade to the lowest support, as that is where the greatest force could be applied (theoretically), but that is not how they have it. As far as mean roof height, yes it is absolutely a factor in the forces placed on any building, however it does not have any bearing on the 1802.

Piling homes with 1 story on stilts where there is 7 feet clearance under the home on the lowest elevation (that would be the side where the ground is lowest not highest) are 2 story homes. Homes with walkout basements are treated the same. Hurricane force winds can affect any single or multiple quadrants of a structure. The number of stories is a modeling point and does affect performance of roof coverings, it is definitely about mean roof height and should be reported that way.

I think we still have a lot of folks that are confused by the old MSFH program training.

Darius, please show me the paperwork that proves your point of view. I am not disagreeing that that is how it should be, but the way they have it right now is as I stated above.