Western University’s “Three Little Pigs” project looks to improve home safety

London, ON, Canada / 106.9 The X
Western University's "Three Little Pigs" project looks to improve home safety

A research project at Western University is taking a nod from an old fairy tale, and it could change the way houses are built for years to come.

The engineering faculty is looking at the effect of extreme wind on houses, and researchers are calling it the “Three Little Pigs” project.

Lead researcher Greg Kopp says the biggest weakness he’s found through the project is how roofs are built.

“When the wind blows over the house, it causes uplift — it’s the same physics that controls an aircraft, and it’s why airplanes can get into the air — so we have to hold the roof down in a windstorm,” Kopp says. “We do this with maybe a couple hundred nails, and that’s what’s holding your roof down — which isn’t very much, when you stop and ponder that.”

Kopp adds the greatest challenge in building storm-resistant homes is weather-proofing them.

“If we spend maybe a few hundred to a thousand dollars per house, we can hold the structure together for [windstorms]. The harder part, then, is keeping the shingles and siding on — the stuff that keeps the weather out,” says Kopp.

Kopp says the research started when insurance companies approached them, looking to cut back on damaged property claims.

The goal is that through their research, they’ll find ways to make houses safer and more cost-effective in the future.

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