As the first storms of this year's hurricane season lie in wait in the north Atlantic waters, coastal Deltec Homes' homeowners are confident they won't fall prey. Hurricanes haven't blown a Deltec house down yet—not even Dale and Carolyn Medley's Deltec in Pass Christian, Miss., which was ground zero for Hurricane Katrina.
“We have never lost a home to high winds. We have some 1,200 houses on the East and Gulf Coasts, and we've never lost one,” says Joseph Schlenk, director of sales and marketing for the housing manufacturer, which has shipped its brand of panelized homes all over the world from its Asheville, N.C., headquarters since 1968. The 85-employee company should produce 500 houses this year.
Deltecs outweather the weather because they are round. Well, they're not really round, although Schlenk refers to them as such “for simplicity.” They're actually polygons with eight-foot sections—eight per floor in the smallest model and 22 in the largest—that give the appearance of being a round house when they are joined together at the appropriate angle.
The eight-foot walls don't give the wind enough exposed straight surface to build up any significant pressure. And the roof is at the optimum pitch to deflect the wind.
The floor and roof systems are unique as well. The floor is held up by a central, six-inch steel pole. And the triangular-shaped roof panels and trusses rest on the exterior wall partitions at one end and a steel compression ring at the other. They are clamped together at the top by a tension collar that prevents the entire roof from lifting off.
“We meet or exceed building codes everywhere in the country, but it's the shape more than anything else,” says Schlenk. “The long flat walls of a conventional house act like sails that catch the wind and build up tremendous force. Our walls are not long enough for the wind to pick up any pressure.”
Because they are geometrically stronger, almost any circular structure does well in high winds. But Deltec homes are far easier to decorate because of their longer—and flat—eight-foot walls. And except for their shape and the way they're built, they are regular houses with all the same bells, whistles, and finishes. “They're really not that different from conventional homes,” says Schlenk.
Deltec is an on-your-lot builder. Ten one-and two-story models range in size from eight to 22 sides (328 to 2,500 square feet) per floor. Prices range from $22 per square foot for a basic house to $45 per square foot, including premium windows, pre-stained sidings, and decks.