March 6, 2023

Can You Build a Natural Disaster-Proof Home? Technology Offers Better Protection During Storm Season

As spring approaches, storm season is not far behind. According to the National Weather Service, the months of March, April, and May are the most notorious in terms of thunderstorms, tornados, and hail. In Texas, this is not something to take lightly. In fact, just last year, the Lone Star State experienced 14 named hurricanes and 159 tornados – the most of any U.S. state.

With Texas storm damages totaling $58.3 billion between 2017 and 2021 (also the highest of any state in the U.S.), it’s never been more important to get proactive when it comes to planning for severe weather. Since our homes serve as both shelters and perhaps our biggest investments, many wonder what the best ways are to insulate against the inevitable.

Proactive Purchasing

Phil Crone, executive director of the Dallas Builders Association, spends a lot of time thinking about how to make Dallas homes safer.

“Due to an evolution of understanding in both straight-line winds and tornadic winds, our modern building codes have informed much smarter and higher quality construction,” Crone said. “Therefore, those purchasing newer builds can be confident that their homes are protected more so than older homes.”

This was evident in 2019 during the infamous Preston Hollow EF-3 tornado where winds reached up to 140 mph. While the storm caused more than $2 billion in damages across North Texas, it could have been much worse.  

“We saw with the 2019 tornado that a lot of the modern builds in the area prevented loss of life,” Crone said. “With that said, you do see people wanting to go above and beyond. There is one builder in our association that builds homes with concrete walls. It’s certainly an exception from the norm, but it could make your home resistant to all but an F4 tornado.”

Outsmarting Storm Season

As technology advances, so does safety. The evolution of material sciences has led to the emergence of building innovations that were once unfathomable. One mother and entrepreneur is taking advantage of new technology to transform structural safety and help save lives.

Anette Rubin and her husband own Vero Building Systems, manufacturers of 3D-printed Structural Concrete Insulated Panels designed to withstand earthquakes and weather Category 5 hurricanes.

“Three weeks after my first child was born, Hurricane Michael hit,” Rubin said. “It was a really terrifying experience. In trying to figure out whether or not to evacuate, I started researching building codes. I learned that in our area, the building code was only Category 3. At the time, the storm had already built up to Category 4.5.”

While the hurricane missed Rubin and her family, it did inspire her to get proactive.

“That led to my husband and I wanting to start this company,” Rubin said. “Our system is Miami-Dade standard so our panels provide up to 250 mph wind resistance. We also have the highest fire rating that Florida certifies.”

Vero Building Systems builds Structural Concrete Insulated Panels that are rated for Category 5 hurricanes, fireproof for 120 minutes, mold-proof, termite-proof, soundproof, and “literally bullet and explosion-proof. (Illustration: Vero Building Systems)

While these panels are rated for Florida Hurricanes, they’re tough enough for Texas tornados as well.

“In Dallas, I know there are tornados, thunderstorms, and of course the ice storms,” Rubin added. “These panels would be an excellent choice for protecting against wind, fire, and even our smallest panels have a measured insulation performance of R19 without added insulation.”

Information is Power

Of course, one of the best ways to protect yourself during a storm is by staying alert.

“If you don’t have a safe room or advanced construction, I would advise following the advice of the meteorologists and seek shelter in interior rooms with no windows,” Crone said. “This is your best defense, no matter what type of house you have.”

Written by Daniel Lalley
Originally Published on Candy’s Dirt