New ‘Hurricane House’ opens to public May 26 at UF’s Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center
Filed under Research, Engineering, Environment, Florida on Thursday, May 4, 2006.
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Built to withstand winds of more than 140 mph, the new “hurricane house” at the University of Florida’s Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center will be dedicated May 25 and open to the public May 26, just days before the official start of the 2006 hurricane season.
“This hurricane house demonstrates that it is possible to build a home that will come through a category 4 or 5 hurricane with little or no damage,” said Van Waddill, director of the Fort Lauderdale center, which is part of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
He said the 3,000 square-foot house – officially known as the Broward County Windstorm Damage Mitigation Training and Demonstration Center – also shows how existing homes can be made more hurricane resistant. Materials, products and construction methods, which meet or exceed new state building codes, can be used in new homes or to retrofit existing structures.
Waddill said new Florida building codes, which went into effect in July 2001, are stricter than the ones they replace, but not as strong as those enacted in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. He said the stricter standards should be required statewide because no area of the state is immune to hurricane damage over the long term.
The hurricane house in Fort Lauderdale is one of four demonstration facilities located at UF Extension Service offices around the state. Other hurricane houses are in Fort Pierce, Pensacola and St. Augustine. The Florida Department of Financial Services provided $2.3 million for the four houses, which cost about $600,000 each.
Bob Stroh, director of UF’s Shimberg Center for Affordable Housing who supervised design and construction of the homes, said homeowners and builders can visit the hurricane demonstration houses to see three types of window shutters and other features such as impact-resistant doors, a steel “safe room” and a garage door that will withstand winds of more than 150 mph.
He said visitors also can see exposed sections of interior walls that show alternative construction methods such as insulated concrete forms to build stronger and more energy-efficient homes. The insulated concrete form uses reinforcement bars and concrete sandwiched between plastic foam sheets.
Pierce Jones, director of the Florida Energy Extension Service at UF in Gainesville, said the method is more expensive than regular concrete block or wood-frame construction, but it is desirable in coastal areas where corrosion and storm-surge problems are more prevalent.
The new insulated concrete forms meet Florida building code requirements, but few builders know how to work with the materials, he said.
In the wake of devastating hurricanes during 2004 and 2005, the UF hurricane houses around the state are becoming magnets to educate builders and residents about wind loss mitigation, energy efficiency and environmentally sensitive construction, Jones said.
Homeowners in coastal areas can take measures to reduce storm damage and lower their insurance rates, said Susanne Murphy, deputy executive director for Citizens Property Insurance Corp. in Tallahassee. The corporation was created by the Florida Legislature in 2002 to provide insurance for homeowners in high-risk areas and others who cannot find coverage in the private insurance market.
“Insurance premium increases for coastal homes have increased significantly over the past four years,” Murphy said. “But homeowners can save up to 45 percent on the wind portion of their premium if they use measures we suggest to protect their homes. Reinforcing the roof could bring a 35 percent credit, while reinforced window shutters could save as much as 20 percent on the wind premium.”
In Broward County, the hurricane house is located at 3205 College Avenue in Davie. Telephone: (954) 577-6300.
In St. Lucie County, the hurricane house is located at 8400 Picos Road in Fort Pierce. Telephone: (772) 462-1660.
In St. Johns County, the hurricane house is located at 3125 Agriculture Center Drive in St. Augustine. Telephone: (904) 209-0432.
In Escambia County, the hurricane house is located at 3740 Stefani Road in Cantonment near Pensacola. Telephone: (850) 475-5230.
Chuck Woods, email@example.com, 392-0400, ext. 240
Van Waddill, firstname.lastname@example.org, (954) 577-6300
Bob Stroh, email@example.com, (352) 273-1192
Pierce Jones, firstname.lastname@example.org, (352) 392-8074
Susanne Murphy, Susanne.Murphy@citizensfla.com, (850) 513-3750
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