In 1992 when Hurricane Andrew hit South Miami, the damages to houses were extensive and severe. Looking back at the property development market in the 1980s, according to the History of Miami Museum, a significant fact shows that there was overbuilding and less than stringent regulations on property development. The Category 5 hurricane proved how poorly the buildings were constructed, destroying around 63,000 houses and damaging approximately 100,000 other dwellings.
Some of the reasons for the magnitude of the damages were in the construction of the buildings and houses. For instance, the roofs in Country Walk, a suburban neighborhood near Homestead that was practically flattened, were made of low-grade plywood and attached using staples, not nails. In just three hours after the storm hit land, second floors of homes were being ripped off by winds.
After Andrew, government officials had no choice but to strengthen building codes and strictly implement them. Since 1992, many hurricanes have come and gone and the most recent Category 5 was Hurricane Irma last September 2017, 25 years after Hurricane Andrew.
Irma was described by Florida Governor, Rick Scott as “This is bigger than Andrew. This could be worse.” Fortunately, many buildings and houses remained standing after the storm. Some of the changes that were enforced were the roof integrity and wind resistance codes. Impact resistant or hurricane windows became standard for all new buildings, and cheap construction materials were banned altogether.
A new statewide building code was implemented in 2002, and based on a 2005 study by the University of Florida, houses built after 2002 sustained fewer, if any, damages compared to homes made under the old codes. In fact, 30% of the houses under the new code suffered not a single shingle damage during Hurricane Charley (2004) while those built before 2002 had some shingle loss at the very least.
Now, in 2018 there are even the “storm-proof houses” that can resist up to Category 5 winds with 100% survival rate – intact! Windows that can handle 250 mph winds are possible because reinforced glass is used and the glass is tested under controlled conditions and given a rating for consumers to appreciate.
Other innovations that are making sure Floridians are safer and more secure in their homes during fierce storms and hurricanes include:
- Use of nails that are one centimeter longer than the building standard (extra $10)
- Use of hurricane straps ($200) for roofs to be 40% stronger
- Other cutting-edge materials like mechanical connectors tie the house parts to strengthen the frame
If you decide to install hurricane windows and doors or reinforce your house in any other way, do it the right way with East Coast Windows.