Exterior front-facing view of a Hurricane-Proof Home with standing water in the front yard and street

The United States is one of the countries in the world plagued with many hurricanes, with a total of 300 hitting the coast since the mid-1800s. The majority of these hurricanes hit Louisiana, Florida, and Texas. 

However, even if you don’t live in these areas, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t build a house strong enough to withstand a storm. 

This article will explain the key elements you will need to build a hurricane-proof home.

What are the Essential Elements of a Hurricane-Proof Home?

The critical components you need to design a hurricane-proof home are a strong metal roof and a good foundation. Hurricanes usually start as heavy storms, with the roof being one of the most affected parts of the home. Likewise, the foundation of the building needs to withstand any pressure from the storm. 

1.) Ensure You Know Your Local State Laws

The first thing to bother about when constructing a hurricane-proof home is the location of the house. For clarity’s sake, it is essential to note building a home that completely resists hurricanes is almost impossible. However, if possible, you can create one that defies the predicted risks of such occurrences.  

You should check your local state laws before deciding how to move forward with your hurricane-proof home. Many states will have specific criteria related to hurricane-proofing. 

For example, in Texas, there are specific rules pertaining to hurricane ties and straps. Always check your local state regulations and what is recommended (or legally required) for your hurricane-proof home.

2.) Select the Best Hurricane-Proof Foundation

The foundation of any building is one of the main determinants of its strength, especially against forces like hurricanes. For a strong foundation, you’ll want to build it as high as possible

Some of the foundations for a hurricane-proof home you can try out include:

  • Pile foundation – there are several ways to classify pile foundations based on their shape, load, and functions. The type of pile foundation that will work to resist hurricane force is the helical pile foundation. This type possesses a significant lateral load to resist wind force and is high enough to prevent floating. 
  • Pier foundation – on paper, pier foundations should do excellently against hurricanes because they raise the building high, like the pile foundations. However, if the home has an empty crawlspace, hurricane winds can reach under the house, potentially damaging the foundation. So you’ll need to reinforce the crawlspace for the best results. 
  • Concrete slab foundation – water may be hazardous when mixing the concrete’s components, but once it has cured, it will serve as an excellent foundation against hurricane winds and rain. 
A traditionally-poured concrete foundation at a construction site

3.) Choose the Home Material

While the material you choose for your hurricane-proof home may not necessarily affect the resistance of the building to hurricanes, traditional building materials will work as long as the design and manufacture of these materials make them strong. 

Wood building materials may not be your best choice if you’re trying to build a hurricane-proof home, but concrete and steel are excellent choices for the most stable results.

  • Concrete – reinforced concrete is robust and durable and will perform best in case of any hurricanes. The liberty to increase the number of reinforcements in concrete to increase strength is one of the perks of this material. Concrete is also affordable, another reason for its popularity amongst contractors.
  • Steel – steel is an excellent option for resisting hurricane winds. A well-constructed building will withstand storms, even when it is coming at a speed of 170 mph. Steel also performs perfectly against earthquakes.

4.) Purchase the Correct Windows

Windows are one of the most fragile parts of every home. And, since you have protected the foundation and exterior walls from possible hurricane force, you will want to ensure your windows are strong.

You have two options when choosing windows for your hurricane-proof home including:

  • High-impact windows 
  • Hurricane windows

Many assume that both window types are identical, but that’s incorrect. High-impact windows are more robust than hurricane windows and can withstand forces even stronger than hurricanes. You can check out this comprehensive list of manufacturers to choose the best high-impact windows.

Windows are one of the most critical design requirements for hurricane-threatened areas because of their fragility. 

For instance, in Florida, a state that has experienced more than 100 hurricanes, the windows are crucial according to building codes. According to Florida law, if a building is in a location that experiences up to 100 mph speed, the windows should be strong enough to resist the wind.

Looking out from inside a home through a hurricane window
We’ve installed PGT Winguard Energy Star hurricane windows in one of our Florida net-zero homes

5.) Get the Most Suitable Doors

Like the windows, the doors are another weak element in the home that you ought to make very strong if you are building in a hurricane-threatened area. According to reports, some of the worst hurricane winds often impact doors in the garage

All you need to strengthen your garage door against any hurricane attacks is a hurricane-resistant door, usually made of metal. 

While there are lots of metal doors that can resist hurricanes, here are some factors you should consider before choosing one: 

  • The building codes in the location
  • The design and strength of the door
  • The aesthetics of the door – you’ll likely want to choose something that fits your overall home design. Luckily, most high-impact doors have multiple designs and colors.

If you do not want metal doors, fiberglass doors also perform well. 

6.) Choose the Proper Construction Processes

Building a hurricane-proof home is never a one-man show. Instead, it would be best if you had an adept team that could brainstorm and come up with the most suitable designs for functionality and safety in your hurricane-proof home.

Anchorage is the golden rule of thumb when constructing a building in a hurricane-threatened area. Anchorage refers to the connection of structural frameworks to have a single firm structure. This term is more common when building with reinforced concrete, but the same strategy applies to any form. 

When hurricane winds impact the building, it pushes the structure, and the weak part will be the first to break, inviting further damage, according to the domino theory.

You cannot get correct construction processes independently. The best way to get one is by hiring a great contractor to help you with the design. They can help you design a house that looks aesthetically-pleasing while also serving as a barrier against hurricanes.

homeowners standing around a table with blueprints on top discuss their modular home's design

Some of the strategies you should consider when picking the best contractor include: 

  • Inquiring about its tools and experience with hurricane-proof home construction
  • Asking neighboring homeowners for referrals
  • Checking for locality associations
  • Contacting a hurricane expert to help you pick

7.) Create Strong Building Exterior

A hurricane-proof home interior may not necessarily stop a storm. So you’ll also need to design the house’s exterior in a sensible way to try and withstand hurricane winds. 

Some of the processes you can try to prepare your exterior building include:

  • Keep low trees – trees may fall when the storm comes heavily, causing damage to the home. However, smaller trees are much less likely to fall in high winds; if they do, they won’t cause too much damage.
  • Clean the gutters frequently – keeping your gutters clean ensures that you aren’t left with a mess of leaves and debris to clean up after a storm. It also guarantees heavy rainfall won’t build up inside the gutters, keeping them more stable during a storm. 
  • Reinforce the building corners – reinforcing the edges of your home will afford you much more protection in a storm. 

8.) Get a Robust Roofing System

The roof is the most exposed part of every home. So when hurricanes come, the roof, especially its shingles, is the first thing that gets affected. Installing a metal roof is the simple solution to all hurricane-related challenges since it can withstand strong wind forces. 

Many brands today produce metal roofs based on the increased demand for hurricane roofs. Some of these roofs can withstand hurricane winds traveling at a speed of 180 mph

Some factors to consider before choosing a hurricane-proof roof include the following: 

  • The strength and authenticity
  • The expertise of the contractors for its installation
  • The cost and budget
  • Aesthetics
  • Warranty – some roof manufacturers have warranties that may cover damage in case of a storm.

It would be best if you got a hurricane expert to advise you on the best roof design before making a final choice.

9.) Use Hurricane Straps and Ties

Hurricane straps and ties are effective as reinforcements for hurricane-proof homes. They can ensure the foundation and all house’s structural components are sufficiently strong to withstand heavy winds.

Hurricane straps and ties are often used on the roofs to reinforce them during storms. They’re also usually installed at the top of the house in the attic’s rafters, keeping everything strong enough to withstand winds.

A Simpson Strong-Tie hurricane tie secures a joist beam to a rafter
Courtesy of Simpson Strong-Tie

There are several different types of hurricane straps and ties that you can use for both wood and steel foundations. For more information about hurricane straps and clips, see this article.

Final Thoughts

There are many factors to consider when creating a hurricane-proof home. However, some are more crucial than others. The measures listed here are the most vital to ensure your home stands tall in the face of the next hurricane.

We home this resource provided you all you need to adequately prepare your house for the next tropical storm.

Best of luck on your hurricane-proof home endeavors!

Sources

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