What should home buyers and owners ask builders and other industry professionals to ensure their homes can withstand severe weather events like hurricanes?
CRAIG STEVENS: Hurricanes pose several potential threats for homeowners. Many can be mitigated by choosing the right home in the right location. These threats include structural damage, severe water intrusion and flooding due to issues with site and community drainage. After every major hurricane, engineers evaluate damaged homes to determine changes in materials and methods of construction that will help future homes withstand hurricanes. Building codes are then modified to build superior homes that will fare much better during severe weather. Engineers also review drainage and flooding during and after storms and then modify development codes, more specifically storm damage codes, which reduces flooding for future communities. Thus purchasing a newer home in a newer community is an easy way to better insure less issues with hurricanes.
DAVE SPETRINO: I learned early on that if you can keep the roof intact and the windows in place, your home may suffer damage but it won’t be catastrophic. The change in building codes in the late 90s due to Hurricane Andrew reinforced that goal in creating a continuous, structural connection from the rafters to the center of the foundation. There is a bolt, strap, rod or fastener from top to bottom, and new homes benefit from this code requirement. Today, our homeowners are seeing more nuisance issues - the house isn’t a total loss, but repairs due to missing shingles, exterior trim, or water intrusion are expensive and aggravating. One of the ‘mandates’ our company included in our building processes in the mid 2000s was that roofing shingles had to be nailed down by hand, no guns. This may seem archaic in a world of mechanized tools but the added cost (about $400 per home and an extra day of labor) has paid off for our clients in not having to deal with over-nailed shingles that puncture the surface of the shingle. Specific to homeowners, don’t just close windows, lock them. Especially double hung windows. After a storm I received a call from a client that one of their windows had leaked, and in the same storm, another had a casement window fly off the house. In both cases, the windows were closed but not fully locked, the wind moved them enough for the rain to do the rest. Another easier one, if it can vibrate or jiggle, it can fly. Think of it the way you think of dishes when you open a box shipped from China and the only thing between each dish is a tiny piece of cardboard. The entire box was packed tight, nothing could move around, therefore nothing broke. Same goes with your house. If gutters, shutters or fixtures can shudder in the wind, they have the ability to rock back and forth long enough to lose their connection and become airborne.
HEATH CLARK: It’s very difficult to compete with the power of a hurricane. Thankfully, the codes in the wind zone here and the building requirements provide very good guidelines. Keep in mind that in addition to the wind, hurricanes also perpetuate flooding that cannot be stopped; it’s really the most destructive element of the storm. Our houses performed well during Florence and I consider that a blessing. When building a home, I would recommend looking for the best materials to use against the forces of wind on your roof and wall cladding. The higher wind rating, the more expensive it is most of the time. Building houses that are “fortified” for a certain or other classification are going to specify certain materials. Additional engineering services may be needed to comply with certain labels. As a builder, you need to install applicable materials per manufacturer’s requirements to get full performance and warranty. The majority of the time that’s done correctly. This gives the home a good chance of surviving a wind event without much damage. You cannot measure or determine if products should outperform a hurricane. The only thing you can control is to install reputable products correctly. Keep in mind, hurricanes are very powerful and test the limits of all products. Products have limits and hurricanes do not.
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