Retrofitting Your Home for Natural Disasters

Whether the region is prone to hurricanes, earthquakes or tornadoes, most residences are vulnerable to at least one type of natural disaster. Homeowners living in high-risk areas can benefit from retrofitting not only to protect property from damage, but also to offer future buyers peace of mind.

So, what’s the best way to retrofit your home?

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, homeowners should take steps to safeguard their homes from common destructors like high winds and flooding. If either of these threatens your area, do the following:

  • Reinforce entry points to your home, including your roof, doors and windows. Roofs are susceptible to uplift, which occurs when the roof detaches and collapses back onto the home. To lower your risks for uplift, install straps that securely connect the roof to columns or wall studs.
  • You should also consider replacing shingles with ones approved for 90 mile-per-hour winds or stronger, with no less than four nails per shingle.
  • To fortify windows and doors, inspect each for proper shimming and nailing–windows and door frames should be secured to the adjacent studs.
  • For added protection, secure the entire home to the foundation with metal straps or anchors. Check with your builder to learn the location of anchor bolt connections between the plate and the foundation–they should be placed at least every four feet.
  • Structures separate from the home, including sheds and other outbuildings, should also be secured to either a permanent foundation or by using a ground anchor and straps.
  • Keep in mind that items such as trashcans, yard debris, outdoor furniture and grills can also cause damage if left unattended. Use ground anchors with chains or cables, or bolt items to a patio or deck for maximum protection.
  • If possible, consider having your home elevated to reduce flood risk. Doing so can cut back your flood insurance premium. Elevation requirements vary by region, so be sure to contact your local floodplain manager before hiring a specialist.

Remember to consult your local building code official and a qualified home inspector before retrofitting your home for natural disasters.

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