Are You At Risk?
If you aren't sure whether your house is at risk
from hurricanes or tornadoes, check with your local building official,
city engineer, or planning and zoning administrator. They can tell you
whether you are in an area where these high-wind events occur. Also, they
usually can tell you how to protect yourself and your house and property
from the effects of high winds.
What You Can Do
Hurricane and tornado protection can involve a
variety of changes to your house and property -- changes that can vary in
complexity and cost. You may be able to make some types of changes
yourself. But complicated or large-scale changes and those that affect the
structure of your house or its electrical wiring and plumbing should be
carried out only by a professional contractor licensed to work in your
state, county, or city. One example of hurricane and tornado protection is
adding bracing to gable end roof framing. This is something that only a
licensed contractor should do.
Brace Gable End Roof Framing
end roofs are more susceptible to damage by high winds than hip roofs or
flat roofs. The gable end presents a large obstacle to the wind and
receives its full force. If the framing of the gable end and the rest of
the roof is not adequately braced to resist the wind, the roof can fail.
Roof failures, especially in unbraced gable roofs, are a common cause of
major damage to houses and their contents in high winds.
If your house has a gable roof, you should check to
see whether the roof framing is braced. The figure shows a cutaway view of
an unbraced gable end roof. This is a truss roof, but some gable end roofs
are constructed with rafters rather than trusses. Both types should be
braced. If you are unsure whether your gable end roof is adequately
braced, check with your local building department. After inspecting your
roof framing, a building official can tell you whether bracing is required
and if so, how it should be added.
Keep these points in mind if you have bracing added
to a gable end roof:
Bracing can be added fairly easily, but you
should have a contractor perform the work to make sure that the
bracing is properly designed and attached.
If you have a building official inspect your
roof framing, ask about other changes you may be able to make to your
house to protect it from high winds.
If you hire a contractor to brace a gable end roof,
you can expect to pay about $75 for each gable end. This figure is for a
gable end about 30 feet long. Bracing longer gable ends may be slightly
Other Sources of Information
Against the Wind, FEMA 237 (Brochure 2-0003;
Video 0-0001), 1993
Building Performance: Hurricane Andrew in Florida
-- Observations, Recommendations, and Technical Guidance, FIA-22,
December 21, 1992
Best Build I, Constructing a Sound Coastal Home,
FEMA and the NAHB (videotape)
To obtain copies of these and other FEMA documents,
call FEMA Publications at 1-800-480-2520. Information is also
available on the World Wide Web at http://www.fema.gov.