HGTV Smart Home 2013: Solid Engineering

HGTV Smart Home is engineered to maximize strengths while minimizing use of materials.

HGTV Smart Home 2013 Structural Engineering

Builder Glenn Layton refuses to take the easy way out when it comes to engineering HGTV’s first high-tech luxury home. What is the easy way out in this case, according to Glenn? Overengineering or constructing an entire house based on worst-case scenarios (hurricanes, etc.) that may only affect certain walls of the home. “We look at the houses as they sit in relationship to the orientation of the direct winds and we can engineer the house specifically for that house on that lot based on its exposure,” says Glenn. “If we know the exposure is coming on the northwest side and wraps around, we can design those impacted walls to withstand anticipated wind load. The wall on the other side of the house doesn’t have to be that strong.” Less wood, material and labor use equals a more cost-efficient — and eco-friendly — build.

Working wall by wall and roof by roof segment, the structural engineer designs the home to ensure that the home maintains its original design integrity while making the most of its orientation (adding or subtracting material where necessary). “It doesn’t present any challenges,” says Glenn of this “optimized solutions” approach to design. “It does take a little more time up front.”

The family room has proven to be one of the most challenging HGTV Smart Home rooms to engineer. Unlike typical two-story construction where spaces are connected and solid walls provide sheer strength against wind forces, this open 12-foot-tall expanse features telescoping sliding French door panels. Beaming, 2 x 8 studs and a four-corner post to support the roof compensate for lack of traditional reinforcements.

The time and attention to detail during the early phases of design and construction pay off in the end for this Florida builder. “Before smart was smart, John (Harris, business partner) and I were using this term to describe best building practices: What’s the smart thing to do?” says Glenn. “Are we going to do something because it looks better or are we going to do something because it’s the right way to do it? The house, it’s not going to be an easy build, but it’s going to be a great build.”

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