IBHS: Stronger Construction Standards can Reduce Tornado Destruction

February 27th, 2015 by Editor

“The devastation and damage to homes and businesses caused by tornadoes can and should be reduced by better construction methods,” says Dr. Tim Reinhold, chief engineer and senior vice president of research at the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS).

Reinhold has new recommendations to reduce tornado damage through stronger construction practices and presented them recently at the National Tornado Summit in Oklahoma City. He called on homebuyers to demand safer homes in tornado-prone areas, especially manufactured homes.

“While IBHS focuses on strengthening homes and business so they can stand up to Mother Nature during most tornadoes and other catastrophic events, these storms don’t just destroy buildings, they devastate families and communities, and that’s really where our concern lies,” he said. “There is no such thing as a tornado-proof home, but builders can definitely make design improvements to narrow the swath of property damage.”

IBHS believes the damage caused to manufactured homes by EF0, EF1 and most EF2 tornado winds can be greatly reduced if buyers select manufactured homes built to U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) Code Zone III Exposure D (open water exposure wind design) standards and have them installed on permanent foundations. According to Reinhold, “manufactured housing that is built to these standards and installed on permanent foundations will actually be considerably stronger that most conventional wood frame housing built in the middle of the country.”

He further notes that “HUD Code Zone III standards meet the requirements of the stronger building code ordinance adopted by the Moore City Council following the devastating EF-5 tornado that struck the city in 2013.”

IBHS conducted laboratory wind performance testing on manufactured homes last year. According to the institute, the research confirmed that HUD Code Zone III manufactured homes can withstand wind loads up to and beyond their wind design capacity—even when the doors and windows were opened on the windward side to simulate the effects of debris damaging the openings, which is frequently seen in tornadoes and hurricanes.

The IBHS’ Consumer Safety Guide for attached structures based on its home testing can be downloaded here.

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