If you want to safeguard your home from the devastating winds and rain of a hurricane, there are steps you can take now, long before a storm is on the horizon. Some of these preparations you can do yourself. Others require the expertise of an experienced contractor. For the name of a reputable contractor in your area, contact the Local Home Builders Association in your area or call the National Association of Home Builders Remodelors Council at 800-368-5242.
The Roof System
Install hurricane straps or clips to the inside of your roof. This must be done by a roofing contractor when your roof is being replaced since it requires access to the inside of the roof underneath the sheathing. These straps/clips should be placed where the roof truss adjoins the exterior wall.
When the trusses are exposed, check to make sure that they are properly fastened. Fasteners include nails and staples. If the fasteners have missed the truss, the roof is weakened. You may want to add nails if they are scarce or if many have missed the top cord of the roof.
If you have a gable-end roof, make sure it is properly braced at the ends. This can be done at any time. Attach 2x4s or 2x6s to the gable end perpendicular to the truss system. Use screws, not nails, to attach the braces. Also, install steel angles to the gable end bracing to reinforce the gable ends.
Windows, French doors and sliding doors must be protected either by hurricane shutters or by an impact-resistant glazing such as laminated glass. Shuttering can be done with 5/8 inch plywood or metal storm panels. To save time before a hurricane, install the anchors or brackets now and store the shutters. Pre-cut plywood pieces should be mounted overlapping windows on all sides by four inches so that the shutters are attached to the frame underneath the exterior surface. Use anchors and wood screws to attach the anchors to siding or lag bolts for masonry. Double garage doors are another weak point that needs to be reinforced. This can be done at anytime; the bracing can remain on the doors year round. Install cross bracing or girts horizontally across the door. Use six to eight 2x4s or steel girts.
Reinforce the track of the garage door with heavier gauge metal and anchor it to the frame with long screws. Check with the manufacturer of your garage door to see if a strengthening package for is available.
Double-entry doors are another frail spot. Check the inactive door and make sure it's secured to the header and threshold; if not, add reinforcing pins to the top and bottom of the door. Also, add heavier hinges and more secure locks.
Fences and Porches
If you're putting up fencing, leave spaces at the bottom instead of driving every panel into the ground to allow air to go under the fence, rather than knocking it down.
Porches normally have weak roofs. Make sure the roof is bolted to the exterior wall of the house. Also, attach porch flooring firmly to the house.
By the time weather forecasters knew that Hurricane Andrew was going to strike South Florida, homeowners had little time to prepare their homes. Those who tried to buy plywood for shuttering windows a day or two before the storm found supplies completely depleted.
By taking these precautions now, you'll save time, heart ache and money if a hurricane hits your area.