Living in Florida can be paradise. But even paradise can have challenges. For Floridians, challenges come in one word: hurricanes. These devastating constructs of mother earth can lay waste to an unprepared home in seconds.
Hurricanes are a definite consideration when building a home in Tampa or Clearwater. Taking time and effort to plan a hurricane proof house will help keep your homeowners insurance lower while providing peace of mind.
The Perfect Storm
If you haven’t dealt with a hurricane before, think very high winds that can reach well over 100mph, heavy rain, and possible severe flooding. Storm surge is what causes the widest damage in a hurricane, but if you are away from the water this may not be your largest consideration. Even so, the high winds can break things off a home and turn them into deadly missiles. Also, any surface area not secured properly becomes a sail for the wind and tears off.
Building a hurricane proof house begins with the bones of the home. Stick-built houses do not stand up nearly as well as homes made from concrete. With concrete you can do most everything you want to do in wood. And don’t believe anyone who says that concrete means compromising style for safety. The closer you are to the water, the more likely you are to want concrete.
These days you can cast a hurricane proof house out of concrete on the building site. This creates a solid construction. Other methods include using cinder blocks, poured concrete, and rebar.
Windows and Doors
A huge issue many homeowners face during a hurricane is flying debris. You need adequate protection, so a hurricane proof house needs impact-resistant glass at the very least. Shutters also provide strong protection and can be very stylish. The key to shutters is not just what they’re made of, but how they are mounted and fixed in place.
Then comes designing your garage door and roofing materials to be hurricane proof. Poorly built aluminum garage doors have been known to slice trees in half in the high winds.
Hurricane proof landscaping? Yep. When designing your exterior, landscape in areas where there is strong wind resistance or marginal shelter. You may also want to consider flora that is low to the ground with strong root systems.
Uplift is a Real Drag
When high winds attack your home, they will find every nook and cranny and push with great force. If that happens to your roof, it could peel off. Build your hurricane proof house with uplift in mind. This is done by using hurricane-graded fasteners, anchors, embedded connectors, and more – most of which are mandatory by housing codes.
With torrential rain and high winds will come drainage blocked by debris and detritus. That produces flooding. Sometimes it’s severe, sometimes not. It’s impossible to predict. But it is possible to prepare. Then there’s the large and forceful flooding caused by storm surge. A hurricane proof house should have a grade at least 8 inches below the foundation wall, with a rain shield to divert water. Then there should be a mesh membrane to waterproof walls and a drainage system that can handle large volumes of water.
So, be sure you work with Tampa builders that are trusted, reliable and thorough, while having impeccable credentials and testimonials. Leave nothing to chance, so you get a hurricane proof house and not a hurricane vulnerable one.
Greg Nelson is the owner of Nelson Construction & Renovations Inc. He is a Florida State Certified Building Contractor, creating artistry in all areas of design and construction projects. He is a musician, and artist. A husband and father, Greg appreciates all the wonderful elements of family life.
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