While a house frame is functional and easy to build, it is very complex to analyse. The whole system is highly indeterminate with members supporting each other and sharing loads where necessary. As well as the classical structural members contributing to the strength of a house, testing has shown that cladding elements can contribute significantly to the overall strength. This is especially so in resisting lateral forces that can occur from wind or earthquake loading. However even laboratory testing of large elements such as bracing walls does not take into account the interaction of these elements with other parts of the building
The need to further understand this complex structural system has led to the Station's house testing research programme. This research involves the construction of full size houses then testing them to measure their response to simulated wind forces. Depending on the design of the building these forces are applied to simulate the passage of a four hour tropical cyclone or the effect of peak gusts associated with a thunder storm.
From the results of testing full size houses rather than components we can determine not only the overall strength, stiffness and resilience of the structure, but discover the weak links of the load paths, that is the path the applied loads take through the structure to get to the foundations. Also we can discover how the different elements interact via load sharing where stiffer non-structural members, such as internal wall linings, attract some of the applied load away from more flexible members.