"Hurricane-Proof" Home Designs Are Sustainable and Sturdy — Here's How They Work

Eva Hagan - Author

Nov. 13 2023, Published 3:47 p.m. ET

The Gist:

  • Deltec Homes is just one design company making "hurricane-proof" homes that have survived Category 5 hurricanes.
  • Many hurricane-resistant houses can be distinguished by their round shape, projectile-proof glass, or concrete reinforcements.
  • Along with being weather resistant, Deltec Homes are energy efficient and designed to reduce emissions.
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Is there really such a thing as a "hurricane-proof" home? Founded in 1968, Deltec Homes is one design company based out of Asheville, N.C. that makes specialized homes said to withstand wind speeds up to 190 miles per hour thanks to their unique curvilinear shapes.

However, beyond being able to resist extreme weather, Deltec Homes claims to be sustainable, promising that their designs reduce emissions as well. This may sound too good to be true, but keep reading to see how "hurricane-proof" homes are becoming the designs of the future.

A storm at the beach whips palm trees in the wind with a gray sky.
Source: iStock
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What are hurricane-proof homes?

A hurricane-proof home is designed to resist extreme weather, especially in coastal areas with more frequent hurricanes. In an ideal world, a "hurricane-proof" home can sustain damage from the high winds and rains associated with storms without the entire home flooding or collapsing.

As the New York Times reported, hurricane season is expected to ramp up in the coming years, with stronger storms forming faster, primarily thanks to global warming. More difficult hurricane seasons could mean less preparation time, higher wind speeds, more destruction, and no time to evacuate. Knowing this, building homes that could withstand a major storm could be the key to enduring hurricanes in the future.

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What makes a home hurricane-proof?

Several different aspects could make a home hurricane-proof. For example, Deltec Homes and Topsider Homes feature unique, rounded designs aimed at dissipating pressure during high winds instead of allowing pressure to build up on one side of the house. The roof pitch is typically angled at 30 degrees.

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Besides the aerodynamic shape, some hurricane-proof homes have multiple structural reinforcements. Deltec uses machine-rated 2400 per square inch (psi) framing lumber, which can withstand high mechanical stress, and has reinforced windows that keep water and wind from getting inside.

Some homes, such as this Fire Island beach house designed by Delson Sherman Architects, are reinforced with concrete, rust-proof metal roofs, and projectile-proof windows.

These design choices are not only heavily researched but have been proven to work. In Mexico Beach, Fla., Bonny Paulson's house, built by Deltec Homes, stood firmly intact during Category 5 winds from Hurricane Michael in 2018. The most she lost was a few shingles, while most homes around her had collapsed, per AP News.

Similarly, the Fire Island beach house escaped Hurricane Sandy unscathed, reports Delson Sherman's page about the project.

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Deltec Homes in particular are sustainable in addition to being sturdy.

Deltec Homes are sustainable in addition to being safe. According to Yahoo News, 273 solar panels cover the Deltec production facility as the sole power source. So, every Deltec home is built entirely through renewable energy.

Moreover, each home is three to five times more air-tight than an average home and has high-quality insulation, requiring less air conditioning. Per Deltec Homes, their energy efficiency has earned them third-party verification by the U.S. Department of Energy, the EPA, and Energy Star.

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