43% of Private Homes and Condos in the U.S. at high or very high risk from natural disasters


Recovery costs $4 for each $1 of damage


Protected Home Improvements Minimize Damage and Hasten Recovery

Construction Informer thanks Cummins for sponsoring this protected home post. Cummins designs and manufactures, home generator sets. Cummins is the brand homeowners trust for reliability, durability and power. Their natural gas or liquid propane fueled generators automatically deliver power quietly and quickly during a utility outage.

Lower Wildfire Risks

According to the Fourth Annual Climate Assessment by the U.S. Global Change Research Program, wildfires will grow in frequency and duration across the Western U.S., but they will also increasingly affect every other region as well. In fact, the South had over 1.5 million acres burn in 2016 and that was 109 percent above the 10-year average. The Rocky Mountains and Southern California were the only two fire regions with greater fire rates than the South.

Extended droughts across the nation cause buildups of fuel on forest floors leading to greater wildfire danger. So, no matter where you live a wildfire could be in your future.

Landscape Pointers

Offer to prune tree limbs to at least 15 feet above the ground, remove plant debris within 30 feet of structures and remove vines and vegetation growing on the structure’s surface.

Asphalt shingles and wood shakes don’t resist flying and burning debris as well as slate, tile or metal roofing. Sure, there’s a price difference but insurance incentives and peace of mind also have value.

A backup generator is a critical aspect of a protected home

Backup Power

Your customers can get three important benefits from installing backup generators. They protect their assets by keeping home systems operating. That means less chance of pipes freezing, less moisture buildup and less chance of wall, floor and ceiling damage from extreme changes in  temperatures.

A home backup generator allows your customers to stay in their homes during power outages and weather disasters that don’t require evacuation. That saves them from spending money on lodging and meals, and reduces food-storage losses in the home.

A third reason to include a backup generator as part of a protected home package is to help speed up recovery from a disaster. When a home has electrical power the owners can still use a wide range of tools and equipment to repair damage and stay ahead of potential damage as the storm unfolds. Homeowners can also shelter-in-place comfortably so they can prevent robbery, vandalism and be ready to respond to new severe weather threats.

Secure Roofing

The problem with composition shingles is they haven’t always been installed to resist winds. That’s why a close inspection often reveals somebody used just two or three nails or staples for each shingle. Ideally, you want at least six fasteners beneath the overlap. And, if the roof sheathing is old, staples might not be the best way to fasten the shingles down. Consider using nails instead of staples to hold shingles on steep roof slopes and in high wind areas.

Another important point is to confirm there is some type of waterproof underlayment on top of the roof sheathing. Believe it or not, installers often leave it off. FEMA recommends roof sheathing of at least 15/32-inch thick. The agency says that poor workmanship is all too common when it comes to how the sheathing is fastened to the rafters or trusses. Fasteners must have a third to half of their lengths in the trusses or rafters.

More Roofing Tips

Use dabs or bands of roof cement to seal the first course of shingles to the starter strip. Use galvanized or stainless steel nails if the roof is within 3,000 feet of saltwater. Check out this publication: FEMA P-499 for details about roofing in high wind areas.

Better Workmanship

When metal roofing and siding isn’t attached correctly to the building frame you end up with entire panels pulling free from their fasteners. Once that happens even more damage follows as more panels get ripped off and water infiltrates the structure.

The spacing of the fasteners and clips must match the requirements specified for the siding or roofing. Usually, you need more fasteners along the panel edges, like at building corners. In all places where the plane changes from vertical to horizontal you should include caps to prevent wind from getting under the edges of the metal sheets.

In northern climes ice dams become a problem largely because too much heat is rising into the attic. Installing attic insulation with an R49 rating can help. Also, check to make sure the ice dams aren’t caused by the roof’s geometry. Suggest installing snow guards above the problem areas. Long term, install products that warm the roof edge so the ice melts before backing up.

Safe Rooms

A safe room is a hardened structure that gives near-absolute protection from hurricanes, tornadoes and other weather disasters. When you offer safe rooms as part of your protected home package you add a revenue stream and a valuable option for your clients. Fortunately, FEMA has done a lot of research on the topic and you can download the definitive guide right here. You can also get the architectural detail plans here.

According to FEMA there are four programs for homeowners to help finance safe rooms.

  • Community Development Block Grant Funds (CDBG)
  • FHA Mortgage Insured Financing
  • Hazard Mitigation Grant Program Funds (HMGP)
  • Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program Funds (PDM)

These programs are administered through the states and you can find the contact for your state right here. If you take the time to get familiar with the programs your state offers, you can become the “go to” person for your clients in helping them fund their own safe rooms.

Reinforced Gables

The large, flat obstacle a gable offers to the wind is a serious threat to the overall structural integrity of the home it’s damaged. 

Typical framing practices don’t adequately brace gable ends against very strong winds. As in the diagram above, FEMA and many code officials recommend a diagonal brace from the peak of the gable to the bottom chord of the fourth truss, or joist of the fourth rafter. Use a second brace from the bottom of the center of the gable end to the top of the fourth truss.