If you look around Charlotte these days, a forest of apartments is rising: Many of the record number of new apartments under construction are large, wood-framed structures with hundreds of units, usually four or five stories high.
Charlotte’s boom in wood-framed apartment buildings is being duplicated across the nation. Wood construction has gained popularity in apartment-building because it’s cheaper and faster to install than other construction materials, such as steel and concrete. Most cities, including Charlotte, have construction codes that generally allow wood-framed buildings up to five stories.
But that’s not going to be the case anymore in Sandy Springs, a fast-growing municipality north of Atlanta. There, the city council approved a building code change that forbids using wood-framed construction for any future buildings taller than three stories and larger than 100,000 square feet.
That would effectively exclude most of the new apartments under construction in Charlotte, except for uptown high rises built with concrete and steel.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on the change in Sandy Springs building code, to which which developers and wood advocates objected.
“Supporters of the change cited safety issues, as well as matters of quality, durability and longevity of buildings in turning to steel and masonry. But the American Wood Council and Georgia Forestry Association objected, saying wood construction was more sustainable and that adoption of the ordinance could hurt the industry,” the AJC reported.