Vol 5 No. 27- March 23, 2005
Building techniques limit hurricane damage
By Louise Bolger
SUN STAFF WRITER
During the past six months Ive heard people
ask, "How can you live in Florida with the threat of all those
hurricanes? or "I think Im going to have to move,
Im too worried about hurricanes." The truth is it doesnt
really matter if you live on Anna Maria or in Santa Barbara, eventually
youre going to have to face some pretty horrific weather.
The best you can do is prepare for it by making your home coastal
ready when its built.
The first line of defense when building on the coast and the most
important part of the job is the foundation. The current code requires
anything being built on Anna Maria to be elevated on pilings. In
addition, most designers are reinforcing walls with rods going from
the foundation up through the framing to help the interior walls
resist twisting when hit with high winds. Architects also reinforce
weak points, such as large windows and door openings.
Probably the most important addition to new construction is the
hardware used to literally tie the building together. This hardware
includes clips and connectors refined through years of storm experience.
Connectors fortify vulnerable points that link floors, walls, rafters
and especially roofs. Installing connectors is not something that
can be easily retrofitted after construction, to be effective they
must be installed correctly during construction. Its been
reported that during Hurricane Charley the roofs on homes built
with connectors were able to survive the 140 and 150 mph winds.
There are some construction methods which will give you extra protection
against coastal storms, a few of which are outlined below.
Metal roofs, popular in Florida because of their attractive look,
are also fire-resistant and energy saving, as well as resistant
to hurricane force winds. Composite decking is low maintenance and
performs well in high winds and drenching rains since it doesnt
soak up water and splinter.
Impact-resistant glass on windows and doors have a layer of shatterproof
glass protecting interiors from flying debris. They are now the
code for new construction and renovations in our area. But even
if they werent, you should stretch the budget by the 50 to
100 percent increase in cost to install them in your home.
Fiber cement composite siding is being looked at by many coastal
residents. It promises not to rot or crack in extreme weather and
is fire-resistant and less susceptible to wind damage. Home generators
are becoming the latest must have option in new homes, some even
large enough to run central AC systems.
The best place to research any of the new codes, materials and tap
into the experience of engineers is the Miami-Dade County web site:
You cant fool Mother Nature, so cutting corners in construction
shouldnt be a choice. If you want the privilege of living
near a large body of water, you also have to assume the responsibility.
I suppose Kansas is an option if you happen to have a pair of ruby
red shoes and your name is Judy.
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