The Science of Hurricane-Proof Buildings

Hurricanes are arguably the most destructive natural disasters. When Hurricane Harvey rocked the Houston metro area in 2017, it caused a staggering $125 billion in damage. In addition to disrupting financial markets, Category 4 and 5 hurricanes can easily destroy homes and buildings, altering the lives of their inhabitants forever.

Coastal cities contribute 46 percent of America’s GDP, and the population of hurricane-prone counties increased by 160 people per square mile between 1980 and 2017. With reports predicting rising costs for hurricane damage and an increase in storm intensity in the coming years, disaster safety is more crucial than ever.

New building techniques and materials are being codified by law and implemented to better fortify our structures against winds, flying debris, and flooding from rain. Read on to learn about the science behind making our buildings weather-resistant.

How Do Buildings Withstand Hurricanes?

To make a building hurricane-proof, architects design the structure as a system that works with the forces of nature rather than against them. Aerodynamic design helps to disperse forces and divert pressure buildup, while a network of reinforced trusses, connectors, straps, reinforcements, and mold-resistant components secures the building and prevents penetration from wind, rain, and storm debris.

How Much Do Hurricane-Proof Buildings Cost?

The biggest portion of a hurricane-resistant structure’s price tag would come from the impact-resistant windows and doors. Costs for these upgrades could reach double the cost of standard components, and home bills could run 15 percent higher once they’re installed. However, the costs may be lower in areas with strong building codes.

While the technology to build hurricane-proof buildings has improved greatly, the demand for it has yet to catch up. Part of the reason is that people are not aware of the fact that these things can be built, as well as the belief that these additions are expensive. While hurricane-proof buildings are estimated to cost more than standard buildings, many development companies are working to build lower-cost hurricane-proof homes.

Animated graphic showing the estimate costs of hurricane proofing, including costs for impact windows, impact-rated doors, secured roofs, and home bills.

After years of record damage from hurricanes, construction companies and homeowners alike are increasingly looking to fortify their homes. While it is not yet possible to create a completely hurricane-proof building, these innovations and materials bring us closer to protecting our coastal and gulf communities.

If you’re a construction company operating in a hurricane-prone location, check out our guide on how to prepare your business for a hurricane as well as our fleet of rental equipment for implementing these building techniques.

Additional Sources:

Autodesk | Bloomberg | Building Science Corporation | CNBC | Deltec Homes | NewHomeSource


 

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