How to make your home strong enough for a hurricane – Forbes Advisor
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If you don’t remember the three little pigs fable, here’s a reminder: Three pigs each built a house. The first pig was lazy and built a straw house. The second pig worked a little harder and built a stick house. The first two pigs called it a day and partied in the barnyard while the third pig worked hard and built a brick house.
Then came the big bad wolf. He wanted to test the integrity of each pig’s building prowess by blowing and blowing and blowing up houses. SPOILER ALERT: The brick house was solid while the straw and stick houses succumbed to the awesome lung power of the Big Bad Wolf.
Solid houses pay off.
While there is no foolproof defense against Mother Nature, there are steps you can take to help mitigate damage from a hurricane’s most devastating elements: wind and water.
So how do you harness the skills and expertise of the legendary third pig? The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) is a good place to start. He developed “fortified” standards to help homeowners strengthen their homes against inclement weather like hurricanes and thunderstorms.
Here’s how you can build even better than a brick house.
What is the Fortified House program?
The IBHS has developed standards that go beyond typical building codes to help reduce the costs of problems associated with extreme weather conditions such as high winds, flooding and hail. “Fortified” construction generally comes under three different designations:
To qualify for the silver or gold designations, you will need to make improvements that will further strengthen your home against inclement weather like high winds. For example, one of the qualifications for a Silver designation is to have a roof that has been constructed or retrofitted to minimize damage from Category 2 or Category 3 hurricane winds. A Gold designation roof would be built or modernized to minimize damage from Category 3 hurricane winds.
Hurricane Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale
You may be eligible for Home Insurance discounts if your home receives the IBHS “Fortified House” designation. For example, residents of Georgia and Mississippi may qualify for discounts and credits. It’s a good idea to ask your home insurance agent if you qualify for discounts.
Insurance can help you upgrade after roof damage. For example, Alabama law requires homeowners insurance companies to offer a fortified bronze roof rider that will transform an unfortified roof into a fortified roof if the roof needs to be replaced after damage.
In North Carolina, residents of 18 coastal counties can benefit from insurance incentives if they have “fortified” homes.
How to fortify your roof
A roof suffers blows from inclement weather, high winds, driving rain and hail. A Category 1 hurricane is the lowest rated hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson wind scale, with sustained winds of 74 to 95 mph. It’s nothing to laugh at, it’s enough to damage a roof, shingles and gutters.
A damaged roof can be an entry point for water, which can lead to a whole host of problems. While home insurance usually covers water damage damaged roofs, you will still be responsible for your deductible and the headaches that accompany repairs and sorting of water damaged goods. An insurance claim is also likely to result in higher home insurance premiums upon renewal.
“It is absolutely essential to provide high level protection for the roof of a house,” said Fred Malik, general manager of the “Fortified” program at IBHS, in a statement. “When a roof fails, we almost always see a cascade of damage, which can impact the integrity of the entire structure. “
If you take steps to fortify your roof, you will not only protect your home, but you may also be eligible for a home insurance discount. To obtain the “fortified” designation, you will need to build or renovate your roof to minimize:
- Roof damage
- Water infiltration in the attic
- Damage to property
- Disturbance and losses in areas affected by category 1 or category 2 hurricane winds low
You can reduce the risk of damage by taking these steps:
- Improve the fixing of the roof covering
- Provide a sealed roof terrace
- Reduce the chances of attic ventilation failure by having roof vents or gable wall vents
To be eligible for a silver designation, you will need to meet the above risk reduction requirements, plus:
- Protect all openings, such as “glass openings” (skylights, windows, glass blocks), entry doors and garage doors
- Strengthens the gables
- Improve the anchoring of attached structures like porches and carports
- Reinforce long vinyl and aluminum soffits
To be eligible for a Gold designation, you must meet all of the requirements for the Bronze and Silver requirements, plus:
- Provide continuous load path connections between roof support members and load-bearing walls, between load-bearing walls and bracing walls above and below middle floors of multi-story homes, and between load-bearing walls and bracing of the lower floor to the building foundation
- Secure the chimneys to the structure
- Make sure your windows and doors withstand certain wind pressures and protect from flying debris
- Ensure exterior walls are constructed using a wall system that provides resistance to wind pressure and the impact of debris provided by structural wood OSB (oriented strand board) panels. 7/16 ” thick attached to wood wall framing
See all the specifications of the “fortified” house here.
How to fortify your windows, front doors and garage doors
When wind pressure enters a house through windows and doors, the pressure builds up inside the house, like blowing up a balloon. Combined with the external pressure outside the house, the internal wind pressure can increase the risk of your roof separating from the walls and the forces trying to push the walls.
To qualify for the Silver and Gold designations, you will need to renovate or install windows, doors and garage doors that meet IBHS standards. That’s because most windows, entry doors, and garage doors have spaces that allow hurricane-induced external pressures to build up, according to the IBHS. Even windows protected by shutters can fail due to wind pressure.
You can take steps to prevent your home from pressurizing and achieving “design pressure” for your windows, entry doors, and garage doors. A design pressure rating is a rating assigned to a window or door based on testing and safety standards.
To qualify for a silver designation, all you need to do is protect your windows and doors to avoid pressurization. Windows must be able to resist or be protected from wind-blown debris. The level of protection against impact debris may vary depending on the area in which you live.
Your front doors should be pressure and impact resistant, like impact resistant laminate doors.
If you have garage doors, they will also need to be protected from wind pressure and damage from debris.
- If your garage doors don’t have windows the assembly (door, hardware and components) must meet a design wind pressure for your site, or you must protect the garage door with an impact resistant shutter / screen product that responds to the design wind pressure for your site.
- If your garage doors have windows the assembly must be designed for the pressure and impact design or the garage door must be protected with an impact resistant sealer / screen that responds to the wind pressure for your site.
To meet a “fortified” gold designation, your home must meet silver requirements and will need:
- A roof system that stays intact and prevents wind-driven rain from entering.
- Windows, doors, garage doors and slides that stay in place and cannot be broken by wind pressure or blown debris, and keep water and wind out as much as possible.
- Well-anchored attached structures, gables and roof overhangs.
- A well-connected structural system where all the parts work to keep the house intact (a continuous load path from the roof to the foundation and all in between parts).
Home Fortification FAQ
Does my home insurance cover damage caused by hurricanes?
Home insurance may be inadequate for damage caused by hurricanes. This is because a standard home insurance policy does not cover damage caused by flooding. And if you live on the coast, wind damage may be partially or totally excluded from your policy.
A good hurricane insurance The policy is usually a combination of policies to cover the home against the most destructive elements of a hurricane: high winds, heavy rain, and flooding.
What hurricane upgrades can I do on my own?
If you are unable to make improvements to your home in accordance with IBHS standards, there are steps you can take to protect your home from the elements on your own. DIY preparations for hurricane season include shinging shingles, securing your garage door, covering windows with wind-resistant aluminum shutters, and pruning tree branches that overlook the house.
What other preparations do I need to make for hurricane season?
Preparation is essential to get through the hurricane season. A good hurricane plan usually involves a three-pronged approach: make sure you have adequate insurance coverage, fortify the house, and have an escape plan.
Don’t underestimate the value of a well-planned evacuation. If you take action now to prepare for hurricane season, you can save valuable time in an emergency evacuation.