CHAPTER 3Design Loads forResidential Buildings3.1 GeneralLoads are a primary consideration in any building design because theydefine the nature and magnitude of hazards or external forces that a building mustresist to provide reasonable performance (i.e., safety and serviceability)throughout the structure’s useful life. The anticipated loads are influenced by abuilding’s intended use (occupancy and function), configuration (size and shape),and location (climate and site conditions). Ultimately, the type and magnitude ofdesign loads affect critical decisions such as material selection, constructiondetails, and architectural configuration. Thus, to optimize the value (i.e.,performance versus economy) of the finished product, it is essential to applydesign loads realistically.While the buildings considered in this guide are primarily single-familydetached and attached dwellings, the principles and concepts related to buildingloads also apply to other similar types of construction, such as low-rise apartmentbuildings. In general, the design loads recommended in this guide are based onapplicable provisions of the ASCE 7 standard–Minimum Design Loads forBuildings and Other Structures (ASCE, 1999). The ASCE 7 standard representsan acceptable practice for building loads in the United States and is recognized invirtually all U.S. building codes. For this reason, the reader is encouraged tobecome familiar with the provisions, commentary, and technical referencescontained in the ASCE 7 standard.In general, the structural design of housing has not been treated as aunique engineering discipline or subjected to a special effort to develop better,more efficient design practices. Therefore, this part of the guide focuses on thoseaspects of ASCE 7 and other technical resources that are particularly relevant tothe determination of design loads for residential structures. The guide providessupplemental design assistance to address aspects of residential constructionwhere current practice is either silent or in need of improvement. The guide’sResidential Structural Design Guide3-1
Chapter 3 – Design Loads for Residential Buildingsmethods for determining design loads are complete yet tailored to typicalresidential conditions. As with any design function, the designer must ultimatelyunderstand and approve the loads for a given project as well as the overall designmethodology, including all its inherent strengths and weaknesses. Since buildingcodes tend to vary in their treatment of design loads the designer should, as amatter of due diligence, identify variances from both local accepted practice andthe applicable building code relative to design loads as presented in this guide,even though the variances may be considered technically sound.Complete design of a home typically requires the evaluation of severaldifferent types of materials as in Chapters 4 through 7. Some materialspecifications use the allowable stress design (ASD) approach while others useload and resistance factor design (LRFD). Chapter 4 uses the LRFD method forconcrete design and the ASD method for masonry design. For wood design,Chapters 5, 6, and 7 use ASD. Therefore, for a single project, it may be necessaryto determine loads in accordance with both design formats. This chapter providesload combinations intended for each method. The determination of individualnominal loads is essentially unaffected. Special loads such as flood loads, iceloads, and rain loads are not addressed herein. The reader is referred to the ASCE7 standard and applicable building code provisions regarding special loads.3.2 Load CombinationsThe load combinations in Table 3.1 are recommended for use with designspecifications based on allowable stress design (ASD) and load and resistancefactor design (LRFD). Load combinations provide the basic set of building loadconditions that should be considered by the designer. They establish theproportioning of multiple transient loads that may assume point-in-time valueswhen the load of interest attains its extreme design value. Load combinations areintended as a guide to the designer, who should exercise judgment in anyparticular application. The load combinations in Table 3.1 are appropriate for usewith the design loads determined in accordance with this chapter.The principle used to proportion loads is a recognition that when one loadattains its maximum life-time value, the other loads assume arbitrary point-intime values associated with the structure’s normal or sustained loading conditions.The advent of LRFD has drawn greater attention to this principle (Ellingwood etal., 1982; Galambos et al., 1982). The proportioning of loads in this chapter forallowable stress design (ASD) is consistent with and normalized to theproportioning of loads used in newer LRFD load combinations. However, thismanner of proportioning ASD loads has seen only limited use in current coderecognized documents (AF&PA, 1996) and has yet to be explicitly recognized indesign load specifications such as ASCE 7. ASD load combinations found inbuilding codes have typically included some degree of proportioning (i.e., D W 1/2S) and have usually made allowance for a special reduction for multipletransient loads. Some earlier codes have also permitted allowable material stressincreases for load combinations involving wind and earthquake loads. None ofthese adjustments for ASD load combinations is recommended for use with Table3.1 since the load proportioning is considered sufficient.3-2Residential Structural Design Guide
Chapter 3 – Design Loads for Residential BuildingsIt should also be noted that the wind load factor of 1.5 in Table 3.1 usedfor load and resistant factor design is consistent with traditional wind designpractice (ASD and LRFD) and has proven adequate in hurricane-proneenvironments when buildings are properly designed and constructed. The 1.5factor is equivalent to the earlier use of a 1.3 wind load factor in that the newerwind load provisions of ASCE 7-98 include separate consideration of winddirectionality by adjusting wind loads by an explicit wind directionality factor,KD, of 0.85. Since the wind load factor of 1.3 included this effect, it must beadjusted to 1.5 in compensation for adjusting the design wind load instead (i.e.,1.5/1.3 0.85). The 1.5 factor may be considered conservative relative totraditional design practice in nonhurricane-prone wind regions as indicated in thecalibration of the LRFD load factors to historic ASD design practice (Ellingwoodet al., 1982; Galambos et al., 1982). In addition, newer design wind speeds forhurricane-prone areas account for variation in the extreme (i.e., long returnperiod) wind probability that occurs in hurricane hazard areas. Thus, the returnperiod of the design wind speeds along the hurricane-prone coast varies fromroughly a 70- to 100-year return period on the wind map in the 1998 edition ofASCE 7 (i.e., not a traditional 50-year return period wind speed used for theremainder of the United States). The latest wind design provisions of ASCE 7include many advances in the state of the art, but the ASCE commentary does notclearly describe the condition mentioned above in support of an increased windload factor of 1.6 (ASCE, 1999). Given that the new standard will likely bereferenced in future building codes, the designer may eventually be required touse a higher wind load factor for LRFD than that shown in Table 3.1. The abovediscussion is intended to help the designer understand the recent departure frompast successful design experience and remain cognizant of its potential futureimpact to building design.The load combinations in Table 3.1 are simplified and tailored to specificapplication in residential construction and the design of typical components andsystems in a home. These or similar load combinations are often used in practiceas short-cuts to those load combinations that govern the design result. This guidemakes effective use of the short-cuts and demonstrates them in the examplesprovided later in the chapter. The short-cuts are intended only for the design ofresidential light-frame construction.Residential Structural Design Guide3-3
Chapter 3 – Design Loads for Residential BuildingsTABLE 3.1Typical Load Combinations Used for the Design ofComponents and Systems1Component or SystemFoundation wall(gravity and soil lateral loads)Headers, girders, joists, interior loadbearing walls and columns, footings(gravity loads)Exterior load-bearing walls andcolumns (gravity and transverselateral load) 3Roof rafters, trusses, and beams; roofand wall sheathing (gravity and windloads)Floor diaphragms and shear walls(in-plane lateral and overturningloads) 6ASD Load CombinationsLRFD Load CombinationsD HD H L2 0.3(Lr S)D H (Lr or S) 0.3L21.2D 1.6H1.2D 1.6H 1.6L2 0.5(Lr S)1.2D 1.6H 1.6(Lr or S) 0.5L2D L2 0.3 (Lr or S)D (Lr or S) 0.3 L21.2D 1.6L2 0.5 (Lr or S)1.2D 1.6(Lr or S) 0.5 L2Same as immediately above plusD WD 0.7E 0.5L2 0.2S4D (Lr or S)0.6D Wu5D WSame as immediately above plus1.2D 1.5W1.2D 1.0E 0.5L2 0.2S41.2D 1.6(Lr or S)0.9D 1.5Wu51.2D 1.5W0.6D (W or 0.7E)0.9D (1.5W or 1.0E)Notes:1The load combinations and factors are intended to apply to nominal design loads defined as follows: D estimated mean dead weight ofthe construction; H design lateral pressure for soil condition/type; L design floor live load; Lr maximum roof live load anticipatedfrom construction/maintenance; W design wind load; S design roof snow load; and E design earthquake load. The design or nominalloads should be determined in accordance with this chapter.2Attic loads may be included in the floor live load, but a 10 psf attic load is typically used only to size ceiling joists adequately for accesspurposes. However, if the attic is intended for storage, the attic live load (or some portion) should also be considered for the design ofother elements in the load path.3The transverse wind load for stud design is based on a localized component and cladding wind pressure; D W provides an adequate andsimple design check representative of worst-case combined axial and transverse loading. Axial forces from snow loads and roof live loadsshould usually not be considered simultaneously with an extreme wind load because they are mutually exclusive on residential slopedroofs. Further, in most areas of the United States, design winds are produced by either hurricanes or thunderstorms; therefore, these windevents and snow are mutually exclusive because they occur at different times of the year.4For walls supporting heavy cladding loads (such as brick veneer), an analysis of earthquake lateral loads and combined axial loads shouldbe considered. However, this load combination rarely governs the design of light-frame construction.5Wu is wind uplift load from negative (i.e., suction) pressures on the roof. Wind uplift loads must be resisted by continuous load pathconnections to the foundation or until offset by 0.6D.6The 0.6 reduction factor on D is intended to apply to the calculation of net overturning stresses and forces. For wind, the analysis ofoverturning should also consider roof uplift forces unless a separate load path is designed to transfer those forces.3.3 Dead LoadsDead loads consist of the permanent construction material loadscomprising the roof, floor, wall, and foundation systems, including claddings,finishes, and fixed equipment. The values for dead loads in Table 3.2 are forcommonly used materials and constructions in light-frame residential buildings.Table 3.3 provides values for common material densities and may be useful incalculating dead loads more accurately. The design examples in Section 3.10demonstrate the straight-forward process of calculating dead loads.3-4Residential Structural Design Guide
Chapter 3 – Design Loads for Residential BuildingsTABLE 3.2Dead Loads for Common Residential Construction1Roof ConstructionLight-frame wood roof with wood structural panelsheathing and 1/2-inch gypsum board ceiling (2 psf) withasphalt shingle roofing (3 psf)- with conventional clay/tile roofing- with light-weight tile- with metal roofing- with wood shakes- with tar and gravelFloor ConstructionLight-frame 2x12 wood floor with 3/4-inch woodstructural panel sheathing and 1/2-inch gypsum boardceiling (without 1/2-inch gypsum board, subtract 2 psffrom all values) with carpet, vinyl, or similar floorcovering- with wood flooring- with ceramic tile- with slateWall ConstructionLight-frame 2x4 wood wall with 1/2-inch woodstructural panel sheathing and 1/2-inch gypsum boardfinish (for 2x6, add 1 psf to all values)- with vinyl or aluminum siding- with lap wood siding- with 7/8-inch portland cement stucco siding- with thin-coat-stucco on insulation board- with 3-1/2-inch brick veneerInterior partition walls (2x4 with 1/2-inch gypsum boardapplied to both sides)Foundation Construction6-inch-thick wall8-inch-thick wall10-inch-thick wall12-inch-thick wall6-inch x 12-inch concrete footing6-inch x 16-inch concrete footing8-inch x 24-inch concrete footing15 psf27 psf21 psf14 psf15 psf18 psf10 psf212 psf15 psf19 psf6 psf7 psf8 psf15 psf9 psf45 psf6 psfMasonry3Hollow Solid or Full Grout28 psf60 psf36 psf80 psf44 psf100 psf50 psf125 psfConcrete75 psf100 psf123 psf145 psf73 plf97 plf193 plfNotes:1For unit conversions, see Appendix B.2Value also used for roof rafter construction (i.e., cathedral ceiling).3For partially grouted masonry, interpolate between hollow and solid grout in accordance with the fraction of masonry cores that aregrouted.Residential Structural Design Guide3-5
Chapter 3 – Design Loads for Residential BuildingsDensities for Common Residential Construction Materials1TABLE 3.3170 pcf556 pcf492 pcfAluminumCopperSteelConcrete (normal weight with light reinforcement)Masonry, groutMasonry, brickMasonry, concrete145–150 pcf140 pcf100–130 pcf85–135 pcf160 pcfGlassWood (approximately 10 percent moisture content)2- spruce-pine-fir (G 0.42)- spruce-pine-fir, south (G 0.36)- southern yellow pine (G 0.55)- Douglas fir–larch (G 0.5)- hem-fir (G 0.43)- mixed oak (G 0.68)29 pcf25 pcf38 pcf34 pcf30 pcf47 pcf62.4 pcfWaterStructural wood panels- plywood- oriented strand board36 pcf36 pcfGypsum board48 pcfStone- Granite- Sandstone96 pcf82 pcf90 pcf105 pcfSand, dryGravel, dryNotes:1For unit conversions, see Appendix B.2The equilibrium moisture content of lumber is usually not more than 10 percent in protected building construction. The specific gravity,G, is the decimal fraction of dry wood density relative to that of water. Therefore, at a 10 percent moisture content, the density of wood is1.1(G)(62.4 lbs/ft3). The values given are representative of average densities and may easily vary by as much as 15 percent depending onlumber grade and other factors.3.4 Live LoadsLive loads are produced by the use and occupancy of a building. Loadsinclude those from human o
wind load provisions of ASCE 7-98 include separate consideration of wind directionality by adjusting wind loads by an explicit wind directionality factor, KD, of 0.85. Since the wind load factor of 1.3 included this effect, it must be adjusted to 1.5 in compensation for adjusting the design wind load instead (i.e., 1.5/1.3 = 0.85).