The nation's Atlantic Coast and Gulf Coast residents are preparing for what forecasters say could be a very active 2013 hurricane season.
Weathering severe storms is something North Carolina builder Deltec Homes knows well. The manufacturer builds houses whose unique design and innovative engineering make them resistant to the effects of extreme winds and hurricanes. During its 45-year history, Deltec has never lost one of its homes to high winds.
"We understand what it takes to build a home in a severe wind environment," said Steve Linton, president of Deltec. "From design to construction to permitting, we are focused on the details of building the most durable home possible for the harshest weather."
Deltec homes are prefabricated in a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Asheville, N.C. The circular style structural envelope of the home is designed and built with rigid specifications into panelized sections, which then are shipped to the building site and assembled. Panelized construction is closer to stick built construction than other forms of prefabrication.
"The precision with which we build our structural components ensures a quick and easy construction process on site and ultimately a home of the highest quality and efficiency," said Linton. "That is especially important for homeowners living where there are extreme weather conditions."
Anatomy of a Hurricane-Resistant House
Weather forecasters expect 2013 to be an above average hurricane season, with up to 20 named storms predicted for the five-month season that began June 1. Up to 11 of those are projected to strengthen into hurricanes, six of them Category 3 or higher. An average season sees 12 tropical storms and six hurricanes. In 2012 there were 19 named storms, including Sandy, the second-costliest hurricane in U.S. history.
Shape: Its circular shape is aerodynamic, allowing winds to flow around the house and dramatically reducing the air pressure on the exterior walls. The low-pitched roof system is angled for optimum wind deflection and minimum drag, diminishing the risk of damage or collapse.
Engineering: The home's exacting design incorporates engineering redundancies that work with nature not against it. Roof and floor trusses radiate from the center of the house, helping spread the force of high winds throughout the structure instead of allowing it to build up in one area. A building envelope, with air-tight construction at the key force intrusion areas of the roof, windows and doors, helps the structure remain intact.
Connections: In its design and engineering, Deltec focuses on three key potential points of failure due to high winds - roof to walls, walls to floor, and floor to foundation. To ensure connections are as tight as possible in those critical areas, the homes use truss hangers and connectors that are many times stronger than those required by building codes in hurricane-prone areas.
Material excellence: Deltec homes are framed with lumber that is more than twice as strong as traditional framing lumber. Structural sheathing used for roof, walls and floors meet the hurricane impact test of Miami-Dade County, which has the strictest hurricane building codes in the country. And nailing patterns in Deltec homes are denser than other houses.
Sustainability: Deltec designs can be adapted easily to incorporate efficiencies like passive heating and cooling, solar hot water and high-performance insulation — attributes that not only contribute to overall energy cost savings, but that will sustain the home and its occupants in the aftermath of a storm when local utilities and infrastructure may be crippled.
Design Withstands and Showcases Coastal Living
In addition to its strength and wind-resistant qualities, Deltec’s unique design makes it an ideal choice for coastal living because many of the home’s features showcase the beauty of the natural surroundings. Expansive banks of windows capture sweeping panoramas not found in traditional homes, and an open floor plan allows those views to be enjoyed from anywhere in the home.
Designs are flexible and can be customized easily, with one-, two- or three-story options and additional wings and connectors available. Homes can be elevated on pilings to optimize views.
The addition of decks, covered or screened porches allow for ample outdoor living space.
John and Kathy Guerin chose to build a Deltec for their vacation getaway on the southern tip of New Jersey. Constructed in 2010 in Del Haven, N.J., the 2,000-square-foot home situated on Delaware Bay has panoramic views of the water and wetlands. The two-story house stands on pilings six feet off the ground, with sleeping quarters on the first level and living room, dining room and kitchen on the second level in an open floor.
"It's an ideal setting in terms of the views and the closeness to the water," said John Guerin. "The aesthetic of living in a circular design makes it different and a very nice place to get away to. There's a little more drama to a circular house than a square house."
Last fall, the Guerins witnessed the strength of their Deltec as Hurricane Sandy slammed the New Jersey coast. While many nearby properties suffered significant water and wind destruction, the only damage to their home was a single turned-up shingle on the roof.
"The house withstood the storm very well," said John Guerin. "That's one of the reasons we chose the Deltec design."
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