Given the speed of tornado winds, it may seem like your house is completely helpless against the power of mother nature. People who live in a part of the country where tornadoes are common, such as the midwest, are wise to take every precaution they can to ensure their homes remain standing against high-force winds.
When constructing or renovating a house, numerous steps can be made to improve the structure's chances of survival.
Certain parts of a house — framework, walls, doors — are all important for maintaining a house structure from natural disasters.
The roof is a vulnerable and vital section of the house. As explained in a video below, if you lose your roof, chances are you’ll lose your house. Most buildings are structured to withstand forces pressing from outside in rather than inside out. If a tornado can cycle into your house then it will likely pick up your belongings and push out the walls.
The following videos explain some of the steps that can be taken to make your house stronger against seemingly unstoppable winds.
To build a completely tornado proof home, you’d probably need to forge the walls out of concrete and install a steel door. For those who don’t want to live in a windowless bunker, material choices often lead toward heavy masonry and reinforced windows.
Many traditional options for shingles, such ash asphalt and wood shakes, don’t fare particularly well under high wind pressure. Vinyl cedar shakes and plastic polymer roofs tend to be more resistant during inclement weather.
The above video demonstrates the impact of 100-mile winds on a house built with traditional materials versus another home designed with wind-resistant products.
The wind resistant materials cost about $5,000 more than traditional materials, but withstand tornado level winds.
One of the main vulnerability points for a house is how the roof is attached to the top of the walls. If your house is already built, you can strengthen the connections at the top of the frame using hurricane straps, which are available at most hardware stores or online. These plates nail into roof and wall beams.
Not only are these metal straps relatively easy to install, they can be retrofitted onto an exiting building. The plates can be as little as $1 a piece and the entire job will likely cost only a few hundred dollars.
If you don’t want to do the nailing yourself, you probably want to another several hundred more into the cost of the job. Not sure where to nail in the plates? Contact a professional roofer. If you're in the Toledo, Ohio area, consider contacting the guys at ProCraft.
Before you buy any straps, make sure to check how the beams connect at the top of your house. The plates are made in slightly different shapes. You’ll likely need to remove the soffit or eaves to get a good look at the beams, but it’s good for you to assess the situation.