Building Fire Smart Homes

Educating yourself about what makes your home resistant to fire could mean the difference between the complete loss and devastation of your home or minimal losses such as landscaping and patio furniture.  Most people are not aware that over the past decade California has adopted new building codes to help prevent the loss of life and property in fire prone areas. These new building codes apply to “Urban Wildland Interface” areas, or areas designated as prosing a high risk to fire. For more information visit, . This site contains helpful information as well as the guidelines and codes for construction in California’s urban areas.  Today’s technology has many products that combined can substantially improve the chances of your home withstanding a wildfire. For example all foundation and roof vents now either close up under extreme temperature or are designed in such a way that flames cannot pass through the vent and get under the subfloors or into attic spaces which are the most vulnerable areas that can spell disaster for your home. For examples follow this link. In addition to these products the type of exterior finish is another critical factor on home construction. For example James Hardie Fiber Cement Siding are fully non-combustible and can also be installed over exterior grade fire rated gyp board or Densglass for added protection. We also offer a wide variety of metal roofing products some of which can be found at Whether you’re updating your current home or planning new construction Advantage Building Solutions has the knowledge and expertise to ensure that your home will have long lasting beauty and withstand extreme conditions of an urban wildfire. 

Your Right to Pick a Contractor

Advantage Building Solutions is a complete one stop resource for your home building needs. We offer complete design services and all phases of construction through the finishing touches, with over 35 years of experience and a commitment to customer care that is sure to compliment your home building experience.  

When choosing a contractor to build your home it’s important that you consider the following factors;
Does the contractor have your best interest in mind and not that of the insurance company.  Insurance companies have a referral list of contractors that in turn give discounted rates for work done in exchange for referrals and can sometimes lead to a conflict of interest putting your needs behind their relationship with the insurance company   In short, you need someone that is dedicated to your best interest.  CALIFORNIA LAW PROVIDES THAT THE POLICY HOLDER HAS THE EXCLUSIVE RIGHT TO CHOSE THE BUILDER FOR THEIR PROJECT.
Are they up on the latest building technology and willing to take the time and care to explain in simple terms why these products and procedures are critical to your project.
Are they familiar with the codes regarding building requirements and codes for Wildland-Urban Interface Fire Areas.  This technology can spare your home in the event of fire.
Are they properly insured in case of defective work or an unforeseen disaster.  The term “Licensed and Bonded” means they only have the minimum coverage to hold a California Contractors License and offer little to no coverage to the customer for long term liability.  This protection is only provided through liability insurance.  Require Liability and Workers Compensation Insurance Certificate before any work begins.  These will provide you with protection during and after construction and after completion.
Securing a course of construction insurance policy will provide an extra layer of protection while your project is under construction and will protect against things such as vandalism, theft and fire.

Pre-Designed, Pre-Engineered Plans

In the wake of the recent wildfire disaster Advantage Building Solutions has compiled some reliable resources for standard home plan sets that include both architectural and structural engineering plans. This is a very important for those of you faced with the loss of one of the most sacred of personal possessions, one’s home. We have provided this along with some helpful criteria you will need to know when selecting a suitable replacement home. 

First of all, you should understand that it may be unfeasible or impossible to rebuild your home to its original specs. Most homeowners will not have access to the original blueprints, and if you do, changes to building codes (most notably Urban Wildfire Interface Codes) may disallow the original plans. Furthermore, concrete foundations damaged by the fire will not be suitable for building due to exposure to extreme temperatures. A cost and time efficient rebuilding option is to select a pre-designed and engineered home plan. With resources already stretched thin in the California Building Industry, this can greatly reduce the time to begin the rebuilding process.

Step 1. Have your contractor or yourself visit your local Building Department and collect the following information: lot size, front, side, and, rear yard setbacks. These determine how close you can build to each of the boundaries. For example, if your lot is 50 feet wide and your side yard setbacks are 5 foot on each side then the maximum width of the homes floorplan cannot exceed 40 feet wide and you don’t want to hinder the process by selecting a home that simply doesn’t fit your home site. Setbacks can also be designated for other property purposes such as RV access, pools, and other structures. Also consider the rules in calculating setbacks. For instance, a 12 feet setback for RV parking may require you to add allowances for obstructions such as roof eaves, but may allow this setback to be combined with a boundary setback. In other words, this home may require a total of 15 from the boundary line which is the 12 feet for the RV parking and another 3 feet for a roof eave.

Step 2. If possible, choosing a standard floor plan will save time and money. The other amenities such as floor coverings, cabinet finishes and, counter tops are simple esthetic changes and don’t often cause excessive delays but, can definitely impact the budget.

Step 3. No matter what contractor you decide to use be sure that they Liability Insurance and Worker’s Comp. The term licensed and bonded only means that they have met the minimum requirement to hold a California Contractors License. Be sure to request a certificate of insurance before any work begins and if it’s not provided cancel your contract. This is the only real protection you have for Long Term Liability. In addition to this, check with the California Contractors Board for complaints and license status.

These are some fundamental steps that can help get you on the path to rebuilding your life. It’s also very important that you know your rights when dealing with your insurance company. One common practice by insurance companies is to divert business clients, (that’s you) to contractors that provide discounts to the insurance company in exchange. You have the right to choose the contractor, not the insurance company. Find a contractor that you feel comfortable with and has your best interest in mind and this will most often provide you with the best service.

Below are just a few examples available as a resource for home plans. If you look around for other sources we strongly recommend that they can provide the structural engineering specific to your location. The primary applications are Wind Speed Loads and Seismic activity ratings. As far as the Code Requirements for Urban Wildfire Area Building Code Requirements, these can usually be applied to most homes by an experienced contractor.