Things to Consider When Building Your Home in a Hurricane Zone
Building your own home in a potential hurricane zones requires a lot of special considerations, but it’s much easier to build hurricane safe than to update an entire home.
The first thing you will need to consider is ensuring your plans are up to code for your area. Check with local authorities to understand the guidelines before you begin planning.
Here are some additional things to consider:
Building high, or well below
Storm surges and flooding cause major damage and loss of life during a hurricane. If you can build your home up high, you reduce the risk of flood waters reaching it and ripping through. On the other hand, a basement is a much more secure safe room. Check your property’s flood risk to choose the height that best minimizes its natural hazards.
Regardless of whether you choose to add a basement, you’ll want to build a hurricane safe room of some sort for you and your family. This can be any interior room, preferably on your first floor. Avoid glass features in this room in case of high winds, which could shatter it.
Concrete is a particularly strong choice for hurricane safe homebuilding, because it’s sturdy enough to handle strong winds and impacts.
Wood is the most common building material because it is inexpensive, but you’ll want to take measures to ensure it will hold up well. Choose a wood with some flexibility to help it stand up to the winds. Treat and design the wood to prevent rotting or termites as well, because they can cause structural weaknesses that will leave the home vulnerable in a hurricane.
Meeting points for different elements can be particularly weak, and you’ll need to consider how you’re attaching the roof to the home. When designing, try to use continuing, uninterrupted beams and trusses, or use strongly reinforced connecting pieces that anchor the roof to the walls.
The following can help create a stronger roof design:
- having 4 or more panels on the roof
- rooftops with multiple slopes
- 30-degree slopes
A particularly vulnerable place to consider? Overhangs. Try to keep them short, below 20 inches long, so the wind can’t apply as much upward force to them.
Square houses fare much better than rectangular ones in strong winds. While unconventional, octagonal and dome shapes are more resistant to wind, and are more likely to stand up to the high pressures. Additional aerodynamic building features can help relieve wind pressures, too.
If wind can get into your home, it can create pressures that rip off your rooftop. Your home openings need to be particularly suited to block strong winds and remain intact after projectile impacts. Windows and doors are specially designed and tested for hurricane resistance. CGI Windows have the highest-rated performance, and a variety of styles and prices for both hurricane-proof windows and doors.
Garage doors are often forgotten, but as the largest opening in your home, you’ll want to choose only a tightly-sealing door that’s specifically hurricane tested.
If you plan to keep trees or decor in the yard, be sure none of it will work against you during an emergency. Keeping your shrubs and trees well-trimmed will help their wind resistance, and make sure stray branches don’t snap off in the wind and slam into your home. Any loose objects in the yard should be secured to the ground for the same reason.
To truly prepare a new home for a hurricane, you should equip it to deal with a potential power outage. You can prolong your livability in the home with some simple energy-efficiency steps. Solar water heaters will store heat for your water. Use thick insulation to hold in temperatures, and passive solar techniques to help your home regulate its temperatures naturally, which are very easy to incorporate, even as simple as facing your home in a particular direction. (This will also keep costs low for energy year-round.)
You should work with a professional who is trained to work with hurricane safety standards when building a new home. Innovations are constantly changing, so guidance from someone with experience will be a big help in incorporating as many up-to-date safety measures as you can.
Interested in learning about other precautions you can take before a hurricane hits? We can help.