Updated: May 19
REMODELING FOR HURRICANE PROTECTION The beginning of summer means many things, like school is out and vacation planning can begin, but here in Florida, it's also the time that the tropics really heat up and the likelihood of our beautiful area being hit by a hurricane increases tenfold. Fortunately, a combination of experience and engineering has enabled the construction industry to build homes that are able to withstand the potential destruction of a Category 5 hurricane, in order to keep you and your investment safe and protected during a storm.
A series of natural disasters in the 1990’s along with the growing complexity of building construction regulation in Florida’s fast-growing markets signaled a need for a statewide building code system, the first of which was enacted in 1998. As of March 1, 2002, the Florida Building Code (FBC), which is developed and maintained by the Florida Building Commission, supersedes all local building codes, and is updated every three years. The most recent update was in 2017, just before Hurricane Irma.
WINDOWS If you have an older home, updating your windows to meet current hurricane codes should be of utmost importance. Your windows are the easiest way that destructive winds and rain can enter your home, something Florida found out in a really big way in 1992 with Category 5 Hurricane Andrew. Thankfully, there are now several options available to protect your investment besides good ol’ plywood boards. The Florida Building Code (FBC) requires windows to be impact-resistant or protected from winds of 170 mph or greater if located within one mile of the coast and 180 mph or greater inland, says the University of Florida IFAS Extension.
Impact-resistant windows and doors featuring extra-strong framing and glazing that sandwich a layer of plastic laminate between two layers of glass will provide the protection needed, and in certain cases there are Florida wind insurance incentives for choosing them. Given the improvements in window technologies, it is now possible to buy impact-resistant and/or energy-efficient windows for your home. Once hit by a projectile, the glass fractures but the object doesn’t penetrate. These windows can be expensive and need replacement after being hit, but they provide the best protection, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
SHUTTERS Shutters are also a proven way to protect your windows and doors and are typically a less expensive option. Choose from motor-driven, manually operated, or the ones you put up yourself by hooking into a permanently placed strip along the outside windowsill. Shutters are most popular in accordion or swinging styles. Various types of window and shutter protection are compared here by the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
GARAGE DOORS Although the typical garage door is seemingly large, heavy and impenetrable, it still must be up to code. Your remodel should include replacing it if your current one isn’t. Keep in mind that if wind, rain and debris find a way into your garage, you’ve still got a costly nightmare cleanup on your hands. Code-approved garage doors include stanchions to hold the frame to the ground and the header, says HGTV. In the past, says Florida-based garage door installation company The Doorman, wind-resistant garage doors needed to be built in a way that required you to install beams and supports every time a hurricane or tropical storm occurred and then remove them to use the door again. Newer garage doors, however, have adequate support structures designed into the door which can resist both positive and negative pressures created by a hurricane or other wind-related events.
ROOFING If your remodel includes a new roof, be sure to consider storm-resistant metal roofing. Dark shingles can loosen over time due to the Florida heat and white shingles are more susceptible to mold growth.
By keeping these recommendations a top priority in your Florida home remodel, you’ll have a beautiful home that will also stand a chance against the next Big One. Based in Southwest Florida for more than 20 years, J. Sweet Construction is fully versed in building and remodeling homes that meet all Florida standards and Building Codes. We’ll help keep your home protected for many hurricane seasons to come.