Extreme Wind and Your Home

In this post, we turn our attention to the resilience offered by a passive home, and take a particular look at tornadoes and wind events.

In this post, we turn our attention to the resilience offered by a passive home, and take a particular look at tornadoes and wind events.

An EkoBuilt home is a resilient home

Our passive house kit is the most sustainable choice you can make and is marked by affordability and comfort. It’s also a more resilient choice as we all face more extreme weather events.

Homeowners across North America are facing more extreme wind events. In our own home patch tornadoes are becoming much more frequent and other wind events (derechos, micro bursts) are happening more and with greater intensity.

Hurricane ties are becoming a standard feature on homes to provide greater stability for the connection between a roof and the home’s walls. These are also known as hurricane straps or clips.

In this post, we’ll explain how an EkoBuilt passive home is a more resilient choice overall, as well as our own experience with a powerful microburst and one of our homes.

A picture of an EkoBuilt home with a secondary “hat roof” under construction.

Greater structural stability

Assessing a home’s resilience in extreme weather must start with the way the home is built.

As a passive home requires fully integrated vapor and air barrier systems, a passive home is one that presents the opportunity to provide additional layers of structural sheathing.

We choose to include two layers of structural sheathing in the walls and three layers in the roof, ultimately making the home three times stronger than code.

We include both passive approved permeable air barrier sheathing and a vapor barrier sheathing which also acts as a secondary air barrier, making the home easily airtight. As single layers go, this a much better home from the outset, one that is resilient to extreme wind events, including tornadoes.

We choose to add another structural layer to both the walls and the roof, adding strength and durability to the home. For the roof, this is an extra plywood layer under the steel roofing system and membranes. Naturally, a steel roof performs better in high winds than traditional roof tiles.

Our passive envelope, the weathertight shell, has zero uplift with engineer approved slab-to-wall connection and no overhangs in the roof system for the structural roof trusses.

An Ekobuilt home with a “hat” style roof — we recommend hurricane ties for this type of roof.

Take note: We estimate that EkoBuilt’s passive house kit offers a home that is 2.5 to 3 times stronger than a code built home when it comes to extreme wind and weather.

Roof Considerations

Many of our homes include a hat-style secondary roof element which is part of creating the overhangs that modulate the light entering the home year round.

In our proprietary engineered “hat roof” configuration, we recommend hurricane ties for the hat roof but if hurricane ties were not present, a tornado would affect only the hat roof and not the passive house weathertight shell.

Our first model home, which has this type of roof, experienced a powerful microburst. The home itself came through beautifully (the passive shell was completely unaffected), underscoring the strength of our wall system, but the hat-style roof elements were flipped.

We hadn’t installed hurricane clips on this home in 2016, as they were not required or recommended, but in the intervening years these wind events have become more frequent and more intense. We now recommend this additional support as standard for any roof, regardless of local code requirements.

A picture of an EkoBuilt weathertight shell under construction.
The best time to add hurricane ties or clips is during construction. In many areas, these protections are now being mandated by code.

Planning Wind Resilience

Any home owner interested in protecting their home from tornado and other wind events should consider hurricane fastenings for their roof system.

An EkoBuilt home will always come with the recommendation that these clips or fasteners be included, as they add very little to the project’s bottom line while really adding a vital layer of protection.

Retrofitting for Wind Resilience

Retrofitting an existing home will require removing all soffits from the roof, and we’d estimate a cost of $1 per square foot when estimating this work as a rule of thumb.

Obviously, getting a quote from a company that does retrofitting that is specific to your home’s age and construction will be important.

Ready to plan your most resilient home? Give us a shout about an EkoBuilt passive home.

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