Building for High-Impact Weather

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By Kim Slowey

After a year of devastating weather events, building owners are evaluating how resilient their existing structures are. Builders who face reconstruction must make sure the properties are more resistant to the impact of wind-driven objects.

Any contractor can build with high-impact weather in mind with the right tools and materials. According to Jerry Carrafiello, owner of Rivertown General Contracting in Irvington, N.Y., a contractor should:

1. Minimize the chance of roof lift by anchoring the structure through the walls and foundation, using hurricane clips or ties nailed into the wall and wrapped over the trusses.

2. Use high-impact glass windows, as well as Tapcon screws, to attach windows to concrete.

3. Fortify garage doors with braces and seal them.

4. Choose impact-resistant hurricane shutters and door jambs with interlocking thresholds.

5. Build with reinforced concrete when possible.

These measures don’t require special equipment (except for the construction of concrete and masonry walls). When image 3installing hurricane clips or other impact-resistant items, make sure you have the necessary power drills, nailers, bits and fasteners on hand. With the proper hand tools and techniques, builders can guarantee a stronger structure. Even experienced DIYers who amass tool sets with a variety of saws, hammers, wrenches and screwdrivers can perform many of these tasks.

Looking Ahead

When Hurricane Andrew devastated South Florida in 1992, Miami-Dade and Broward counties led the way in a massive overhaul of state standards for building codes. Wind resistance was one of the priorities. According to the Wall Street Journal, these stricter building codes most likely paid off when Hurricane Irma rolled through the area this past September. Other local government agencies in hurricane-prone areas may also change codes to require higher wind resistance for buildings.

In addition, new building materials may become more popular. Contractors can add Kevlar fiber to a building’s structure or to storm-specific items, like hurricane shutters. DuPont even has an entire line of Kevlar-reinforced safe rooms for use during tornadoes and hurricanes. These materials can be installed with traditional hand tools and don’t require extra equipment or training. By addressing wind resistance, building officials, property owners and contractors will be better able to protect buildings from the damaging effects of high winds.

Journalist and writer Kim Slowey spent more than 25 years in the construction industry and continues to be a certified general contractor in Florida. She writes about commercial and residential construction, tool use and workforce development. Kim also writes for The Home Depot. You can see the wide selection of hand tools on their website by clicking here

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