Hurricanes are powerful natural weather events, and it can be frightening to try and prepare for the worst. However, there are some smart choices you can make to establish a hurricane-proof house that can withstand the strong winds and weather conditions that a hurricane brings.
This article will discuss the best ways to create a hurricane-proof house. If you can implement all these elements, your home can stand up against a hurricane.
So, let’s dive in!
What Are the Best Ways to Create a Hurricane-Proof House?
The best way to have a rock-solid hurricane-proof house is to live in a no-flood zone, have a solid foundation, and invest in weather-resistant doors, windows, garage doors, and awnings. Of course, you should also check on your hurricane tax deductible.
Now that you’ve seen the rundown let’s consider each of these measures in greater detail.
1.) Live in a No-Flood Zone To Avoid Hurricane Damage
One of the most effective ways to create a hurricane-proof house is to live in an area that isn’t at risk of flooding. If you choose a safe location, when a hurricane does bring heavy rain, your home will not be in as much danger as it would be in a flood zone.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has maps with information about flood zones throughout the US. These maps identify high-risk areas, which are those that have a 1% annual chance of significant flooding.
Little did we know a category 4 hurricane (Ian) would be smashing our netzero renovation home a couple years later after we finished it, but we’re so glad we stuck to our guns and bought outside a flood zone.
Not buying in a flood zone is actually one of my non-negotiables when it comes to buying real estate. Regular homeowner’s insurance usually does not cover any water damage, so you have to buy that separately.
In Florida, I’ve seen flood insurance for even small homes cost upwards of $5,000 to $10,000 or more recently. You can avoid this completely but just not buying in a flood zone to start with, and ideally at a much higher elevation or no where near the current flood zone maps.
After Hurricane Ian, FEMA has already redrawn the flood zones as well. Are you now in a flood zone? You can check here and type in your address.
The following table outlines the different flood zones and their meaning:
|A||1% annual chance of flooding, mandatory flood insurance|
|V||A coastal region with a 1% annual chance of flooding or damage due to storm-induced waves|
|D||Possible but unknown risk of flooding|
|X||Approximately a 0.2% annual chance of flooding|
We recommend purchasing or building a home in an X or D area if you’re worried about hurricane damage. These areas are not in the designated flood hazard area (SFHA). Approximately 90% of hurricane deaths are due to flooding and storm surges, so you should never underestimate the danger of flooding.
2.) Choose a Solid Foundation
You must start with a solid foundation if you want the most robust home possible. The foundation supports the entire house, so the rest of your home will only be as hurricane-proof as its base.
The foundation of a home is the load-bearing part of the house, which is usually underground. Suitable foundations for hurricane-proof houses must support the house, keep out water, and protect the structure from soil vapor.
Here are some of the best foundations you can consider for your hurricane-proof house:
- Concrete slab – concrete is highly durable; it can usually hold up even in the heavy winds and rains that hurricanes bring. Slab foundations also have other advantages, including shorter drying times, pest protection, and significantly lower cost. However, with a concrete slab foundation, you’ll need to install heating and cooling units above ground, which takes up valuable living space.
- Pile – a pile foundation consists of many columns inserted into the ground and transmitting loads to a lower level. Consider using a solid material for the piles, such as concrete. This sturdy material will support your house, even through hurricane conditions.
- Pier and beam – if you live on the coast, adding height is one of your best options to hurricane-proof your house. To do this, many opt for a pier and beam foundation. However, we don’t recommend using wood for this type of foundation because of how delicate and susceptible to damage it is. Instead, we recommend building a home with reinforced concrete beams.
If you want a rock-solid hurricane-proof house, you’ll need to start from the very beginning with the foundation, as this is one of the best ways to prepare your home for weather damage.
3.) Invest in Hurricane or High-Impact Windows
A hurricane’s most dangerous aspect is the high winds, which cause flying debris. Anything can get picked up during a storm and fly through the air, easily smashing through a window unless you prepare ahead.
Therefore, a great way to create a hurricane-proof house is to get hurricane windows. Manufacturers specifically design hurricane windows with a polyvinyl butyral layer, which helps hold the glass together, even if it suffers a significant hit from a flying object. The best hurricane windows can withstand up to 170 mph winds (273.5 kph).
Hurricane windows often have more robust frames than regular windows, making them even more durable. Many standard windows are wooden and unstable in extreme weather conditions.
You can choose high-impact windows or hurricane windows, though we recommend high-impact ones. They are typically stronger than hurricane windows because of their impact-resistant, laminated glass. For more information, check out our article on the most frequently asked questions about hurricane impact windows.
High-impact windows are costlier than hurricane windows, so if you need to save money, get hurricane windows instead. If you need clarification about the difference between high-impact and hurricane windows, we answer all your questions in our article, which explains the differences.
4.) Install Hurricane Shutters To Protect Your Windows
If you cannot get a hurricane or high-impact windows, the next best thing is to invest in some hurricane shutters. Manufacturers design these shutters to safeguard regular windows, which can significantly minimize damage during a hurricane.
Hurricane shutters go over your regular windows and look like standard house shutters, but they function to endure high winds without getting torn from the hinges.
There are multiple kinds of hurricane shutters:
- Roll-down – roll-down shutters are convenient, though they are less attractive than some alternatives. Most manufacturers create roll-down hurricane shutters from aluminum or polycarbonate plastic.
- Plywood – if you have a low budget, DIY plywood window shutters can significantly increase your home’s protection during a hurricane.
- Bahama – Bahama shutters have louvers and hinges, which can help block out sunlight if necessary.
- Colonial – these shutters are panels of aluminum or wood that go over the window for extra protection.
- Accordion – accordion shutters are usually made from aluminum, unfolding just like their namesake.
For the ultimate hurricane-proof house, you can install high-impact windows, cover them with hurricane shutters, and double up on the protection. You can read our article explaining the difference if you want more information about hurricane windows and shutters.
Hurricane shutter installation typically requires specific hardware, such as washer wingnuts. We recommend these N C MORIN Hurricane Shutter Panel Washered Wingnuts for this purpose. They comprise heavy-duty material that will increase your shutter durability and can fit many different types of shutters.
5.) Get a Metal Roof
If your roof gets ripped off or damaged during a hurricane, you may expose the rest of your house to harsh storm conditions. Therefore, the best hurricane-proof houses have high-quality roofs made from durable materials. The best option is metal because it can withstand up to 160 mph winds (257 kph).
As Category 5 hurricanes reach speeds of 157 mph (252 km/h), you can expect high-level storm protection. Metal roofing can be costly, but it will make your home more hurricane-proof and safer during intense storms.
6.) Upgrade Your Shingles
If you can’t afford metal roofing or hate the look of it, you can still make your home more hurricane-proof by focusing on the roof. Clay and concrete tiles are durable and wind-resistant, so these materials are a good option.
Regular shingles significantly differ in quality and strength. The most robust shingles are rated ASTM D3161 Class F or ASTM D7158 Class H.
Additionally, you should ensure that your roof is in good condition. Hurricane-proof houses should never have a single shingle out of place, as a loose shingle can easily get ripped off in hurricane conditions.
A missing shingle causes leakage, which leads to rotting. Use materials such as roof sealant, roofing mastic, and reinforcement webbing to get your roof in tip-top shape.
We like this Liquid Rubber Store Waterproof Sealant because it provides a protective finish for the following structures:
- Flat roofs
- Metal roofs
- Sloped roofs
The formula is UV-stable, which means the sun won’t damage the product with time, and it is water-based and free of any solvents or harmful odors.
7.) Install Hurricane Straps To Protect Your Roof
Hurricane straps or clips are valuable tools that all hurricane-proof houses should have. These tools are small steel connectors that help keep your roof attached to your wall, so it doesn’t get torn off in hurricane conditions.
Hurricane straps and clips are similar—clips do not wrap over the truss, whereas straps do. However, both are equally effective in protecting your home from hurricane damage.
Follow these steps to install hurricane straps:
- First, locate where the trusses meet the beams and where the wall and roof meet.
- If you’re installing the straps inside the house, you’ll need to remove the drywall.
- Measure the strap length you’ll need to connect the truss to the beam.
- Purchase your straps.
- Purchase nails made of the same material as your hurricane straps.
- Place the strap half on the roof’s rafter and half on the beam.
- Nail the strap into place.
- Repeat on all the sites you identified.
These small metal straps or clips may seem like they wouldn’t make a big difference, but if installed correctly, they can be an essential part of a hurricane-proof house.
We like the Herbert-fty Simpson Strong-Tie Brackets from Amazon.com because they offer sturdy, 18-gauge squeezed steel that is rust-proof and dependable. In addition, the ties support lateral and uplift loads, which is excellent for securing joists and rafters. We also appreciate that AUGO offers a complete refund or replacement if you’re unhappy with the product.
Hurricane ties/straps are one of my favorite investments for homes in hurricane-prone areas. The big reason is money and savings on homeowner’s insurance.
We wrote up a separate article here on how much you can save by installing hurricane ties, and we recommend you check it out. The payback/investment is pretty great.
We already wrote up an article here that lists out where you can buy hurricane ties/straps for your own project. You can check that out here.
8.) Install a Wind-Resistant Garage Door
Garage doors are vulnerable parts of the home, especially in hurricane conditions. Therefore, hurricane-proof houses should have wind-resistant garage doors.
These doors are more robust than average because of the following features:
- Carbon steel hinges
- Heavy-duty jamb brackets
- Commercial-grade U-bars
Wind-resistant garage doors are quite a hefty investment, so if you can’t afford one right now, you should still take steps to protect your garage door. A solid bracing system may be enough to prevent it from getting ripped off by hurricane winds.
9.) Choose Impact Sliding Glass Doors for Hurricane Proofing
If you’re worried about your windows getting damaged during a hurricane, you should also consider your sliding glass doors. Flying debris makes anything made of glass highly susceptible to damage during a storm. Therefore, you’ll need to invest in high-impact sliding glass doors to create a hurricane-proof house.
High-impact sliding glass doors are more weather resistant because of the following elements:
- Heavy-duty multi-chamber design
- Durable weatherstripping
- Metal reinforcement
- Interlocking center rails
- Oversized panels
- Impact-resistant glass
These weather-resistant doors come at a price, though. High-quality doors cost approximately $800 or more, and installation will set you back anywhere from $600-$6,000. However, these doors will ultimately pay for themselves because of their protection.
10.) Install Wind-Resistant Awnings for Hurricane Resistance
Like garage doors and windows, awnings are vulnerable during hurricanes. Not all awnings offer the same protection, so consider upgrading yours—steel awnings are the most robust option.
Many homeowners are concerned about reducing their curb appeal with too hefty of an awning, but some metal awnings are pretty attractive. You should also ensure that every detail of your canopy contributes to its wind resistance, which means high-quality hardware.
We like this Awntech Houstonian Standing Seam Awning because it contains step-by-step instructions, which makes assembly easy. In addition, the frame boasts powder-coated steel, which is sturdier than other awning materials and more suitable for hurricane conditions. Thus, this awning can withstand wind speeds up to 120 mph (193 kph).
11.) Ensure You Have a Hurricane Deductible
Even the most hurricane-proof houses can suffer damage. If this happens to your house, you’ll want to ensure that repairing your home doesn’t lead to financial ruin.
Check your homeowner’s insurance for details about the hurricane-related damage deductible. The deductible applies to any storm categorized as a hurricane by the National Weather Service. If you have good insurance, you won’t have to pay too much to restore your home after a storm causes damage.
- Risk Factor: Understand the Differences Between FEMA Flood Zones
- So Far: What is a Storm Surge and What Causes It?
- Air Master: IMPACT-RESISTANT GLASS WINDOWS: HOW THEY WORK AND WHY YOU NEED THEM
- Wikipedia: Saffir-Simpson Scale
- Home Run Financing: What’s the Best Type of Roof for Hurricanes and High Winds?
- Owens Corning: ASPHALT ROOFING SHINGLES & WIND RESISTANCE
- School of PE: Basic Principles and Classifications of Pile Foundations
- University of Trieste: Strengthening of Laminated Glass Windows Against Windborne Debris Impact
- Juneau Odenwald Roofing: The Best Roof Materials for Hurricane Resistance and Protection