SE-009 Lateral Force Resistance in Residential Buildings

SE-009 Lateral Force Resistance in Residential Buildings

Lateral Force Resistance in Residential Buildings

The Lateral Force Resistance in Residential Buildings 6 hour PDH online course is a part of the Structural category courses. This course provides guidelines and methodology for designing the lateral force resisting system in residential buildings. The objectives in designing a building’s lateral resistance to wind and earthquake forces are to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the general public by minimizing risk to life that can potentially result from both structural and nonstructural damage.

In light-frame construction, the lateral-force-resisting system (LFRS) comprises shear walls, diaphragms, and their interconnections to form a whole-building system that may behave differently from the sum of its individual parts. In fact, shear walls and diaphragms are themselves sub-assemblies of many parts and connections; thus, designing an efficient LFRS system is perhaps the greatest challenge in the structural design of light-frame buildings.

One key component of a viable lateral design is ensuring that the load path is provided from the roof down through the walls and floor diaphragms into the foundation and eventually the soil. This can be more difficult when shear walls are not stacked directly on top of one another, necessitating hardware and specific details to drag shear to parts of the building that are designed to resist lateral forces. In part, the challenge results from the lack of any single design methodology or theory that provides reasonable predictions of complex, large-scale system behavior in conventionally built or engineered light-frame buildings. At times, current design methods depart significantly from observations of system testing or field experience. The desire for open floor plans, two-story foyers, great rooms, and large windows common in modern homes creates a challenge in locating and designing the elements of the LFRS.

This course is based on Chapter 6 of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development document “Residential Structural Design Guide”, Second Edition.

This course is intended for use by civil and structural engineers, design and construction professionals, students and others interested in learning about lateral force resistance in residential building.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this course, you will be able to explain and will gain the following knowledge and skills:

  • List and explain lateral force resisting system design steps and terminology
  • Explain the difference between flexible and rigid diaphragm and where it should be used
  • Design floor diaphragms
  • Explain how shear walls should be designed in residential buildings
  • Explain the three different methods to LFRS design: tributary area method, total shear approach and relative stiffness approach
  • Describe portal frame and moment frame LFRS
  • Work through the full design of the LFRS for a residential building

Course Content

Total learning: 1 lesson / 1 quiz



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  • Joshua Root


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