Designing a Stormproof House

Spring and Summer bring nasty storms, especially in the south.

Some of a building designer’s responsibilities are to design a safe home.

That includes storm-proof homes.

Storms can cause the roof to collapse, windows to break, and siding to tear off.

Storms can also cause trees to fall on homes.

The first step in designing a stormproof house is to choose the correct location.

The best locations for stormproof homes are high and dry locations.

These locations are less likely to be flooded or have houses damaged by falling trees.

But we usually don’t get to pick the location.

So, here are some other things you can do.

Spec the suitable materials.

The way to build stormproof homes is with concrete, brick, or stone.

These materials can withstand high winds and flying debris better than wood-frame homes.

These materials are also less likely to catch fire in a lightning strike.

Usually, when picking out materials, our clients want to know about the aesthetic appeal and cost.

It’s crucial that we, as designers, also consider durability and their ability to handle heat and moisture.

Have a strong foundation.

The foundation is an essential part of the house, so it is vital to get it right.

A strong foundation helps to keep the house stable during high winds and flooding.

It also helps to distribute the weight of the house evenly, which can prevent the house from sinking or collapsing during a storm.

A “stem wall” is a foundation made up of a series of concrete blocks or bricks.

We use “stem walls” to create a sturdy home, as it helps to resist movement from the ground during high winds and flooding.

Reinforce the roof with hurricane straps.

Stormproof homes have roofs designed to withstand high winds and flying debris.

Stormproof homes should also have hurricane straps or clips to help hold the roof down in high winds.

Reinforcing the roof with hurricane straps can help prevent it from being blown off in a storm.

Hurricane straps and clips are metal bands installed around the roof to help keep it in place during a storm.

They attach the roof to the house’s walls to help keep the roof in place during high winds and storms.

Sloped rooves with strong supports are great for withstanding high winds.

It also helps to have gabled or hipped roofs, which shed water better than flat roofs.

Add impact-resistant windows and doors.

Adding impact-resistant windows and doors will keep wind and rain out of the home.

Impact-resistant windows and doors are also designed to withstand flying debris.

If you can’t get impact-resistant windows and doors, add strong shutters.

Other protective measures, such as storm panels, are made specifically for vulnerable areas like sliding glass doors or large patio doors.

Storm Panels, like shutters, are a series of aluminum panels that fit into a track system that can be quickly installed to protect your sliding glass door from wind and debris.

These are different from storm shutters, which are made of metal, plastic, or wood and attach to the outside of the sliding glass door to protect it from wind and debris.

Place trees away from the house.

Most building designers are not involved in landscaping, but some are.

Because of that, it’s essential to make sure the yard is designed not to flood or have hazardous debris.

Placing trees away from the house will minimize the risk if they blow over in a storm.

Another thing you can do is install impact-absorbing barriers around the property, such as fences or hedges that can obscure windows from high winds or flying debris.

Of course, you’ll want to make sure these are solid fences and hedges.

A weak fence would only create more damage causing debris.

Install a storm shelter.

Storm shelters may be extreme for most places outside of “Tornado Alley.”

Installing a storm shelter is an excellent way to protect a family from high winds and debris.

Storm shelters are specially designed rooms in the house built to withstand high winds and flying debris.

Storm shelters can provide a safe place for the family during severe storms.

Sometimes they’re underground, sometimes they’re just a room, like a safe room.

There are a few things to keep in mind when designing a storm shelter.

The storm shelter should be:

  • Near an exit
  • Away from windows and doors
  • Above ground if possible, and/or
  • In an area that is not likely to flood

Provide a storm safety plan.

Having a plan for what to do in a severe storm can help minimize the damage done to a home.

This is a client gift opportunity.

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Giving your clients a welcome home gift is a great way to be memorable and get repeat business.

It also dramatically increases the chances of getting a referral.

Conclusion

As building designers, it’s partly our responsibility to design stormproof homes.

Following building codes is the bare minimum we should be doing.

Going above and beyond is what takes us from being good designers to great designers.

Do you have any more tips on how to design a stormproof home? Leave a comment below!

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