Building a house offers a safe and secure place to live. A place where you can always return to and relax after the long day — but this all changes when a natural calamity like a hurricane hits your place of comfort. Suddenly, you begin to feel the place isn’t safe to live in. This, ultimately, causes stress and frustration.
Fortunately for those planning to construct a custom home in a hurricane zone, there are ways by which you can protect it from damage. You need some simple improvements in your construction plans like pruning trees and cleaning gutters. Other safety house changes are also worth it but they may cost more. Not only does hurricane proofing enhance your house resale value but it also ensures that your residential property sells at a good price. This guide is intended to provide much needed information about building a hurricane-proof custom home in order to lessen potential damage.
In our post “7 Tips for Building a New Home Along the California Coast” we outline important factors to consider including understanding environmental challenges. If you are thinking of building a custom home in a hurricane-prone area, you have to take some proactive measures to ensure that your residential property is safe not just in the peak season but throughout the year.
When Hurricane hits a place, it removes the roof shingle and causes great damage if roofing is not done properly. To ensure that your property is protected you need to check that your new house roof is diligently attached. In an article “The Best Roof Materials for Hurricane Resistance and Protection” for Juneau Odenwald Roofing, Juneau Odenwald reveals that metal roofing for custom home construction is generally considered the best option for hurricane resistance.
Make sure that the builder fixes the roof deck to the frame with ring-shank nails. These nails form a strong joint and won’t get lifted off by high wind pressure. Also, ensure that the roof deck is sealed to reduce potential water damage. Spray polyurethane foam (SPF) is used as glue on the roof undersides to avoid air penetration and to strengthen the roof.
In an article “Window Glass Building Codes in California” for Home Guides, Andrew Latham states that “the California building code requires the use of safety glazing or safety plate glass.” Check for the Design Pressure Rating when purchasing new windows to ensure that they are hurricane-proof. DP rating is the measure of the air infiltration, water infiltration, and structural load. For example: if the window DP rating is 50, it means it can withstand the winds of speed up to 200 miles per hour and pressure of 75 pounds per square foot.
Another best option to protect your home from hurricanes is to get storm shutters. Strong winds can be dangerous as they can turn harmless items into missiles — however, if you have installed a storm shutter it can protect you against any type of damage or injury. There are plenty of options available to choose from when selecting your custom home storm shutters. Your best bet are storm shutters with high strength and durability.
Get new heavy-duty and wind-resistant windows as they can handle strong hurricanes. Nowadays, modern storm proof windows with stronger frames are available in the market and can be fitted with shatter-resistant glass.
In addition, ensure that your garage doors, backdoors, as well as the front door are equipped with the strength needed to withstand intense winds. There are limited options available if you want some durable material for doors that are capable of handling strong winds and flying debris. You need to have a secure door that can handle the pressure created by winds with 250mph.
If your lawn area has chairs, tables, or other furniture items, it’s important to secure them too. You can bring them inside in case of high winds. Not only will your property be safe from the element, it will also be protected from heavy outdoor furnishings that can potentially hit and damage your house.
Metal is the most hurricane-resistant roofing finish that protect your house against wind gusts of up to 140 miles per hr. Constructed from materials like tin, steel, aluminum, copper, or zinc, metal custom home roofing is incredibly durable compared to asphalt shingles — and can potentially last up to 50 years.
To ensure complete protection, you can use hurricane clips. They are constructed to increase the connection strength between the roof and house.
The largest entry point in your home is the garage. It is a vulnerable area during hurricanes. If you don’t have an impact-rated garage door, strong winds are likely to remove it from the opening resulting in high air pressure building inside your house and eventually blowing off the roof.
If you’re looking to build a custom home in a hurricane-prone region, get hurricane-resistant garage doors like the Clopays’ Windcode Series. These doors have steel reinforcements, extra hardware, and spring components that have the strength and durability to bear the wind pressure. Make sure to check specifications for wind resistance and code requirements for the material.
Never compromise on a budget for hurricane-resistant garage doors. You can get removable galvanized steel and aluminum panels to mount garage doors during hurricanes or install vertical storm braces for extra reinforcement.
Once a hurricane hits your house, it causes thousands of dollars of damage to a residential HVAC system. Below are some of the tips that you can implement to reduce the damage and ensure indoor air is clean during storms:
To secure the base against any loose objects or debris, make use of hurricane straps or a protective cage.
Remove loose items, foliage, or bushes near your area to reduce damage.
Cool down your home against future power outages.
Call an HVAC professional to check the system's functioning capability and ensure necessary maintenance.
Get a backup generator to keep the ventilation system running.
Turn off the thermostat and circuit breakers for your HVAC system to protect the unit.
Once the hurricane stops you can check the HVAC unit. Check the unit for any necessary repair or for any damage occurrence. Call a professional to ensure the system is dry and safe to use. Never turn the power on if it is wet. According to an USA Today article “6 Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality in your Home” by Chris Harrison for Service Experts, inspecting your outdoor HVAC unit each season will ensure that you’re breathing the cleanest air possible.
If you think there is not much damage caused, you can turn on the circuit breaker and check for any sound from the unit.
Capture any damage to share with your insurance company.
A hurricane-resistant foundation commonly has floor joists spanning an open space. The size must be able to resist loads to the entire floor along with vertical loads. As per standard, the foundation of a hurricane-resistant system should follow Chapter 4 of the 2018 IRC along with the state’s local codes.
The walls of a hurricane-resistant house play a crucial role during strong winds. Hurricane-resistant walls must have the structural capacity and hardness to handle the in-plane shear forces of hurricane winds to reduce lateral twists that damage the plumbing as well as mechanical and electrical systems of the house. It should follow Chapter 6 of the 2018 IRC along with the state’s building codes.
Fiberglass is an ideal material for hurricane-resistant front doors. They are impact tested for intense winds and also keep out rain better in comparison to wood or steel doors. As per information HomeAdvisor gathered from homeowners, the cost to buy and install a fiberglass door is approx $150 past $3,000. This price however depends on the design and properties of the material.
Preparation in advance is the best way to ensure your home is protected. The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety has listed some of the last-minute steps that can protect your home from damage.
Close your garage door and all interior doors. Close the interior doors as this will reduce the pressure on the roof by 30% — in turn, preventing any internal damage.
Get reliable weather information and alerts. You need to stay safe and it is possible if you are updated with the right information. The National Hurricane Center provides updates of hurricane forecasts. Keep your battery-powered radio and mobiles on-hand to get local updates and emergency alerts.
Secure loose items outside. For your home protect, don’t keep items like outdoor décor, patio furniture, planters, and bicycles outdoors as these can be blown by the wind and cause damage to your building structure.
Create a home inventory list. Create a list of the belongings before the storm hits. It will help you keep check of the items missing or damaged and will help with your insurance claims.
Buy a basement sump pump system to remove the flooding water. If you have one, check if it is working properly. Clear the debris from the pump to prevent clogging.
Power surges occur immediately during or after the storm and can damage your electronic appliances. Add an industrial surge protector to your electrical panel to protect your property from damage and offer special protection to the heating and air conditioning system.
Get a home generator as it will keep daily used appliances like the fridge, freezer, HVAC system, lighting, sump pump, and stove running if the power goes out during a storm.
Heavy rains are an obvious possibility during hurricanes. The easy way to protect your home from water damage is to install a secondary water barrier. It is one of the best ways to ensure that water doesn’t enter if you live in areas prone to disastrous weather such as hurricanes or tsunamis. A custom home builder will always advise you to keep the water-resistant material under the outdoor roofing like the tiles and shingles.
Get a flashlight, plenty of extra batteries, radio, first aid kit, water, and non-perishable food for a few days to make your stay as comfortable and safe as possible.
Hurricane insurance is additional help that homeowners can get in case of hurricane damage. Normally, you don’t get an insurance rider called “hurricane insurance" but you can still get an option to protect yourself and your home in case a hurricane hits your place. For instance, if hurricane winds damage your shingles, siding, and doors your insurance policy will cover costs of damage.
In most cases, you need to get a separate policy to ensure you have sufficient hurricane damage coverage:
No homeowner insurance policy offers claims for floods or storm surge. To get this coverage you need flood insurance. If you reside in a coastal or flood-prone areas, get a separate policy that covers water damage specifically due to flooding.
For some reason, homeowner policy won’t pay for windstorm damage. If you live in an affected region and require coverage, you need to get a separate windstorm insurance policy.
According to NerdWallet’s rate analysis, average home insurance cost in the U.S. is $1,585 annually while flood insurance from the NFIP costs $739 a year. It will add up to a total of $2,324 per year for hurricane insurance.
You can save on your insurance premiums. Many homeowners aren’t aware that their home may qualify for one or more insurance discounts with Hurricane Protection upgrades like Hurricane Shutters. You need to get detailed information about the home protect insurance discounts from the insurance companies.
It will help you keep a check on what you expect from a policy and what you will get when you file a claim. This helps you make a wise decision regarding the coverage and reduce the cost spent on selected home protection plans.
Take inventory of all of your belongings and their value. It makes it easy to check if you are sufficiently insured for either replacement cost or cash value for the items. Additionally, it will help to fasten the insurance claim process and you will have the evidence for all tax losses.
Building permits are the way municipalities implement the building codes. These play a crucial role in protecting the value of your home. Post-inspection after the hurricane will help you analyze the amount of damage and file an insurance claim.
Think about it: a residential property can handle a category 5 hurricane. Category 5 hurricane means that the speed of the winds is 250 kilometers per hour.
To construct such a house, you need a big investment. To stay comfortable and safe in your home when a hurricane hits, you need to prepare a budget of $25,000 to $50,000 on average. There are many factors to be considered to deal with massive water damage. Some may get a water softener, but there are many more things you can do. Not to mention, these precautions can increase your expenses.
Building a hurricane-proof home roof will approx cost you $1000. Consider adding a hurricane-proof garage to your house. It will add to the cost. For a hurricane-proof custom home, you may need to part with approx. $2000 for a garage door and roof reinforcement.
The time spent indoors waiting for a hurricane to end, you need to get a heat source to keep you comfortable. For this, you need to buy a wood or natural gas stove. It may cost you about $5000.
Once a hurricane hits your place, power will cut off. You need light to live inside your home. For this, you need to invest in a backup generator. Its installation cost amounts to approximately $6000 depending on the type.
All these calculations don’t end here — you also need to invest in hurricane-resistant windows. For this, you have to pay about $500 to $1,500 per window, including installation. The overall cost for hurricane-resistant windows would be about $15,000. When building a hurricane-proof custom home, all these costs have to be taken in consideration if safety is top priority.
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