Cheryl Smithem | 06/04/2021
Whether we like it or not, we are at risk of fire, flood, hail, wind, and rain. We cannot control the forces of nature, but we can design and build a home that will weather a storm, and resist fire. Just as you plan your kitchen, you must plan your home’s environmental resistance.
Start with a resilient home. One that uses materials designed and engineered for disaster resistance, fire safety and weather endurance. The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) recommends building beyond code and the use of IBHS’s FORTIFIED Home standards. Watch a video on these standards and the IBHS research.
“Miami-Dade and Broward counties are part of a High-Velocity Hurricane Zone, where local code requires that a building’s entire envelope (including windows, doors, and eaves) incorporates lab-tested, wind-resistant design.”
All building codes in our area are updated every three years and require hurricane strapping, and structural integrity, tying roofs to walls, and walls to foundations. Homes in our counties must be built to withstand winds up to 120 miles per hour and above. They must also be designed to withstand wind-borne debris carried by these same winds as well as the high pressure resulting from hurricane forces.
As a part of your new home planning, discuss materials selection with your builder and choose the highest quality hurricane-rated shutters and doors as well as superior roofing materials and systems. While these choices come with an increased expense, the peace of mind is worth it.
We expect the power grid to supply our homes with constant electricity and natural gas. However, we have seen and heard about bad actors manipulating the power grid and causing havoc.
Pre-construction planning is the time to evaluate and specify the elements necessary to provide you with the ability to cool, light and provide refrigeration following a natural disaster or bad actor intrusion.
To be self-sustaining you need redundant power systems. These include solar power systems with banks of batteries providing power during an outage. Tesla makes their Powerwall which is a home battery backup system connected to your solar panels. However, you could choose a home standby emergency generator connected to natural gas.
Many homeowners want a safe room. According to FEMA, “A safe room is a hardened structure specifically designed to meet the Federal Emergency Management Agency criteria and provide near-absolute protection in extreme wind events, including tornadoes and hurricanes.” Learn more about safe room standards by reading FEMA’s publication. A safe room may be within your home or in a separate building. Safe rooms can be designed for multiple hazards.
A safe room may also be used when despite all the security, someone breaches your home’s perimeter. While not a common occurrence, your panic room built to FEMA standards provides solid protection.
To help prevent the spread of fire whether from arson or accident, have your home constructed of fire-resistant materials which exceed local and international building codes. You might also consider fire rated doors that section off various points of your home and slow a fire’s progress.
Residential fire suppression systems are becoming more common in high-end homes. They may be standalone systems or may be connected to your home’s plumbing system.
We look forward to discussing with you how to keep your family safe no matter what the threat. Contact us to have a planning discussion for your new home.