Aware 2021: Making Home More Storm-Ready

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By Scott Roberts

One of the challenges of living on the plains is the lack of requirements when it comes to home building. On the Atlantic and Gulf Coast there are requirements that new builds have to satisfy to make homes more resilient to hurricanes. But those types of requirements exist in few places on the plains.

Today’s tips sourced from

The single most important factor in resilience


One thing counts more than all the others when it comes to storm survivability in the home: keeping the roof on. If you can keep storm winds from getting under the roof and lifting or pushing it off the walls, you and your property stand a much better chance. We’ve all seen how homes are built: the walls are leaned up against one another, but until the roof is on they lack the support needed to create what builders call an “envelope.” Like the one you probably just thought of, the building envelope is meant tt keep the contents inside and protect them from hazards.

Keep the Roof on by tying it to the Foundation

What you want to have is a structure that is tied together with construction more substantial than nails. It starts at the foundation, with rebar tied to the footings and extending above the top of the basement or crawlspace wall. Then the joists can be tied to the rebar as they are placed. After walls are raised, each outer wall stud should be strapped from a few feet up the stud to a few feet below the edge of the concrete below.  The left side of this photo shows what it looks like on a concrete block cellar wall.

simpson strong tie

The right hand side steals a bit of later thunder — it is showing a roof joist tied via steel rod all the way to the foundation.

What about slab foundations?

J-bolts embedded in the concrete (preferably firmly tied to the grid of rebar in the floor) around the edges and where there will be interior bearing walls. Here’s an example:



As you can see, the bolt receiver is nailed into the stud with numerous nails. Much more sturdy than the old practice of toenailing the studs to the plates.

Continue tying things together as you go up, strapping from several feet above the floor to several feet below the bottom of the joist.

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And last but certainly not least, tie down every roof joist to to the header below it, or even to the stud below that, spanning the header.



In designing homes that will hold up well in strong winds, we should borrow heavily from the Miami-Dade County Building Code, which includes a wide range of provisions, including hurricane tie-down strapping or clips that provide a continuous structural connection from foundation slab to roof, minimum 2×6 framing in exterior walls, minimum 19/32-inch plywood roof sheathing with 6-inch nail spacing at panel edges and 4-inch at gable ends, and hurricane-rated shingles. Other wind-resistant strategies include hip roofs that deflect winds, avoidance of deeply overhung entryways, and outward-opening doors that are held more tightly closed in heavy wind.

But I’m not building a new home, am I just out of luck?

Actually, no. Here’s an example from Jacksonville, FL of a way you can get the roof joists tied to the headers when you’re getting the roof redone:

roof hurricane straps 10

If you’re remodeling inside, you can do the same type of thing at the base of your walls: cut off the bottom foot of drywall and nail T-shaped supports to the bottom plate and the studs. Every little bit helps.

More tips from FEMA — Building a Safe Room in your Home or Business


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