After the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, a Vermont friend with Mississippi roots, asked if I would build a house for friends of her family whose home had been destroyed by the storm. A collaborative project developed within our New England network to raise funds and then travel down to Pass Christian, MS to construct a timber frame house for the Conway family. The post and beam structure, seen below, is designed to withstand 100 mile an hour winds.
The project was one of my favorites! While I usually build old timber frame homes and restore old barns, this project was a brand new timber frame home and I had to take into consideration the particular needs of a home that would – unfortunately – have to withstand future storms.
We over-built the house and soon enough FEMA was coming by to visit our site and use it as an example. They would talk in FEMA workshops about the building techniques we were using and encouraging other builders to use the same techniques.
The house is a timber frame structure with plywood interior walls covered with sheet rock. It was built according to the new codes, seventeen feet above sea level and ten feet above ground. We fastened everything down so it could withstand hurricane winds of up to 100 miles an hour.
The work itself was incredibly intense and fun. Each week, I had a brand new crew of dedicated volunteer workers beside me. We worked for six weeks, and family and friends came from across the country to help in the building.
It was truly a wonderful experience – one of my favorite lifetime memories – and the Conway’s daily provision of delicious lunches and dinners was appreciated by all! I am proud that the house stands strong and tall and hope it will not have to weather too many storms. It passed the test of Hurricane Gustav in 2008. Despite the five feet of water that flooded the yard, the house was unharmed.