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How to Prepare for Natural Disasters When Building

Posted by Megan Wild, Guest Columnist

Oct 8, 2018 10:51:00 AM

Natural disasters can take a construction site by surprise. Here's how to prepare for the worst weather.

Safety from the elements is on everyone’s mind given the recent harrowing natural disasters which swept across America and caused devastation to thousands of residents. Damage to properties caused by events such as hurricanes and floods is life-lightning-storm-weather-sky-53459changing and can be disastrous for homeowners, and that’s why prevention of breakage and ruin caused by natural disasters in the building process is becoming a major priority for contractors and architects. Of course, taking certain anti-disaster precautions during construction of houses, multifamily properties and offices could incur further costs both for builders and clients, and potentially disrupt well-developed processes. However, considering the dangers of global warming now and in the future, it could be the best investment you as a home provider could make. While where you choose to build is always a significant consideration with respect to avoiding the worst of the elements, how you build can make all the difference. In 2014, for example, tornadoes and hurricanes were responsible for almost $640 million in damage, therefore particular consideration to materials, construction techniques and shelter should be taken when building new homes to last whatever may happen in the future.

 

Materials

This is extremely important if you’re building in the Florida or Oklahoma regions. Materials used to build houses are the tangible obstacle to what may be going on outside from damaging what’s inside. The weight and denseness of the front door, the quality of the concrete and the structure of the roof shingle can help reinforce your project against intense winds.

 

Techniques

Securing against high winds through building techniques could dramatically fortify the property’s longevity. Rebar-enforced concrete can help promote a 100-year lifespan for the building. If price is an issue but you still want corrosion-free rebar, opt for clad reinforcement bars — carbon-encased stainless steel — as opposed to 100 percent solid stainless bars or strictly carbon bars. This is also more sustainable, since the carbon is usually recycled. A second popular and well-tested technique is gable-end fortification, which involves the bracing of gable-end roofs using extra wooden boards. This helps reinforce the roof and the overall structure of the building in times of turbulence. Once again, the wood can be sourced from recycled sources, or plastic-timber composites can be used.

 

Shelter

In the midst of storms and hurricanes, having an accessible and protective shelter could save lives. This could either be the house itself or a separate building within it, underneath it or alongside it. If a separate entity is more conducive to your client’s requirements, there are many options of the types of shelters or bunkers. Regardless, the shelter must feature:
  • A generator: Make sure you equip the property with a separate generator, as fallen trees and flooding can threaten your power supply.
  • Fire-safety precautions: When choosing where to build, make sure the building perimeter is a safe distance away from anything flammable, such as tree lines or other forestry.
  • Flood-safety precautions: Install a back-up sump pump. While sump pumps do a good job themselves in keeping buildings dry, a back-up will protect your home from flooding in particularly extreme circumstances. Avoiding building in floodplains is also exceptionally important.
We are all at risk when it comes to the impact of natural disasters. Green builders and architects will doubtless be facing a massive increase in natural disaster-proof homes, therefore anticipating that demand will make it more manageable in the long term. Through taking special precaution with the resilience of building materials, the robustness of building techniques and the thoroughness of shelter-like features, major damage can be averted.
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