Hurricane Andrew taught Florida builders how to keep the roofs on their homes during a hurricane. Now Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, Jeanne, Katrina, and Wilma are teaching them how to better keep out the wind-driven rain.
In the wake of the most recent storms, the Melbourne, Fla.–based Mercedes Homes called in the experts and asked for help figuring out how to build a more hurricane-resistant house. The result of those consultations is the following list of hurricane-resistant features the builder added to its homes:
Six-inch, cast-in-place walls designed to withstand extreme wind loads and wind-driven debris.
Roof trusses directly aligned over interior load-bearing walls on both single- and two-story homes, making the roof less susceptible to lift during a storm.
Solid-grouted, concrete block walls installed on the second story, a rarity in some parts of the state where second floors are routinely wood framed on top of a concrete block first floor.
A steel cage embedded in the home's walls during construction designed to disburse the impact of wind-driven debris.
Out-swing entry doors, which are more resistant to wind and help combat water intrusion when winds force rain past weather stripping.
A tooled keyway in the slab along the perimeter of the home to help give water a place to go rather than intruding into the walls.
Recessed seats along the perimeter of the home's foundation where water flows and exits rather than entering the home.
Removable hurricane shutters to protect windows from flying debris and rain.
A new soffit and facia design that helps keep water from being driven into the eaves by storm-force wind.
New-ridge vents and off-ridge vents that reduce the chance of water intrusion.
A continuous water-resistant wall surface created by wrapping the house with Tyvek house wrap, using Tyvek flex wrap on the window sills, and sealing the seams with a special straight tape.
A self-adhesive roofing membrane that provides rainwater protection to the roof sheathing even if the shingles are lost or damaged.
A “Flex Lox” acrylic exterior coating by Color Wheel that is designed to flex and span micro-cracks, as well as resist mildew, blistering, cracking, chipping, and peeling.
A natural gas generator that would allow the homeowner to use appliances and air-conditioning until electrical service is restored.
A generator-ready electrical panel that makes it easy to plug a portable generator into the home's electrical system.
Paperless drywall, which resists mold growth better than traditional paper products.