Spring IS Here!

We might have thunderstorms in the Mid-Atlantic this time of year, but no hurricanes… so, instead we’ll give some tips on home maintenance for Spring.

Before the April Showers, warmer weather and bugs come out, there are a few easy things you should do for your modular home to keep it energy efficient and and looking its best. As a modular home builder, we have some helpful tips to help keep your home in shape, here are our suggestions below:

  • The last thing you want to happen is to finally crank on the A/C next month – when that first surprisingly warm weekend hits – only to find nothing come on and it’ll be a week before you can get a repairman to the house. Get your air conditioner checked out by a qualified HVAC contractor now to make sure that the system is running efficiently. Before the contractor comes out, you can do a little maintenance on your own by suctioning out any debris from your condensation line with a wet vac.
  • Your water heater is another major appliance that you don’t want to go out on you – if your unit is more than five years old, check the bottom for any leaking or rusting, and if you find any, you’ll likely need to replace the unit soon.
  • Inspect your roof for damage (or have a contractor do so, if your roof is older, and possibly in need of repair) and clean the leaves and other debris out of your gutters. Be sure your gutters are still securely attached and run the hose through them to check them for leaks. If you have sprung a leak, use caulking to seal it.
  • Inspect the foundation around your modular home and in your basement for cracks or imperfections.
  • Fill any depressions in your yard with compacted soil to prevent standing water and puddles, which can become a breeding ground for pesky mosquitoes.
  • Check window sills, door sills and thresholds and fill cracks, replace weather stripping, caulk edges, repaint or replace if necessary.
  • Patch or replace window and door screens; a hole the size of a dime is big enough for bugs to get in!
  • Check your wood patio deck for stains or warping and reseal if necessary. Check for splintering or rotting wood, rusting nails or loose nails. Also check your railings and stairs to be sure that they are still secure.

Pride in ownership and quality home care and maintenance are things we take very seriously at Homes by Vanderbuilt. For over 30 years, we’ve been building superior-quality new homes in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. To learn more about our modular homes, please visit: Homes by Vanderbuilt

Toddler Survives Tornado

Did a 20-month-old New Pekin, Indiana, girl survive a horrific ten mile ‘ride’ in a tornado that swept through the New Pekin area Friday, March 2, 2012? A tornado that took the lives of her entire family?

According to news reports Angel Babcock and her family were inside their mobile home when the tornado struck. During the tornado Angel and her family were ‘violently thrown across a ten mile distance from each other” with Angel, who is in critical condition at the Children’s hospital in Louisville, Kentucky, the sole survivor.

ABC 7 News:

“Four of the five family members were killed when a tornado violently threw them from their modular home Friday in New Pekin, Indiana. 21-year-old Joseph Babcock, 20-year-old Moriah Brough and two of their three children died. They are 2-year-old Jayden Babcock and 1-month-old Kendall Babcock. 20-month-old Angel Babcock is the lone survivor.”


“Kendall was a month and a half old. And she was found in her car seat upside down. Jayden was 2 years old and he was found under the rubble,” said Sherry Young. Young is Justin’s mother and had also known Joseph.

“Joseph was found on the opposite side of the road from his house. Moriah was found underneath a tree,” said Young. “Angel was found out in the middle of the field all alone. She’s 20-months-old,” said Young.

The field Angel was found in is 10 miles away from where the rest of the family was found. Angel is in critical condition.”



Mid-Atlantic Hurricane Facts

Hurricanes pose the greatest risk for a widespread natural disaster in the Mid-Atlantic region from August to October.

The East Coast is in an active hurricane cycle, which began in 1995. Active cycles typically last 25 to 30 years. Past patterns along the East Coast suggest several notable storms strike during a four or five year period, in tandem with a less active time lasting several years. (The 2004 through 2010 seasons were generally tranquil, with a nearly total absence of hurricanes making landfall between Georgia and Maine.)

The Middle Atlantic states have well-defined cycles of increased hurricane activity. It’s as if someone turns on or off a faucet. Previous active cycles in the region occurred from 1876 until 1904 and from 1933 until 1961.The period from 1969 until 1979 brought the Mid-Atlantic several notable hurricane-related floods, although that time frame is considered less active in the North Atlantic. (Sometimes, the Mid-Atlantic region seems to march to its own drummer.)

The region’s climate is highly cyclical. Extremes are often followed by extremes. A drought, for example, may be followed by a hurricane-related flood. A period of years with little widespread severe storm activity is often followed by two or three years with several destructive storms affecting large sections of the Mid-Atlantic. These may include hurricanes and winter nor’easters.

Although August, September and October are often regarded as the peak of the hurricane season, the Middle Atlantic states have not experienced a significant October hurricane since Hazel in 1954. Before then, destructive October hurricanes tended to batter the region once or twice each decade and October’s monsters–hurricanes and nor’easters–were part of local lore.

Hurricanes that occur within a month or two of each other, in the same general geographic vicinity, often take roughly parallel tracks.

Coastal sections are due for a destructive hurricane. Hurricane Gloria in 1985 was the last to cause modest to significant losses to all Mid-Atlantic shore areas, from Virginia to Long Island, New York. The Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944 was the last to cause severe damage along the shoreline from Virginia to New Jersey. The Mid-Atlantic coast has had a dearth of major coastal hurricanes since the early 1960s. Similar quiet periods occurred from the late 1820s until the late 1870s, and for about three decades during the early years of the 20th century. These less active periods were followed by many violent hurricanes, six or more within 25 years.

On rare occasions, intense hurricanes (Category 3 or stronger at landfall in North Carolina or while off the Mid-Atlantic coast) have produced a massive wave or series of waves described by those on shore as appearing like “tidal waves.” These caused immense damage to buildings and other structures along the shoreline. Generally, the storm waves quickly lost momentum and losses were limited to sections within a block or two of the beach. Such events have occurred along sections of the Mid-Atlantic coast in 1821, 1878, 1938, 1944 and, perhaps, at other times. The huge waves struck as the center of the storm made its closest passage, as easterly winds turned westerly. Interior sections are due for a highly destructive hurricane-related windstorm. Hurricane Hazel in 1954 was the last tropical cyclone to carry actual hurricane force (74 mph and greater) winds through a large section of the Mid-Atlantic interior, from Virginia to Pennsylvania. The region’s climatological history suggests that inland hurricanes such as Hazel occur about twice each century. Similar events occurred in 1667, 1724, 1769, 1775, 1821, 1878 and 1896. Highly destructive winds generally ranged roughly east-west in a 50 to 100 mile band in the storm’s northeastern sector, although a brief period of higher winds sometimes occurred after the center’s passage, when winds turned westerly.

The popular Saffir-Simpson hurricane intensity scale understates the potential for wind damage in the Mid-Atlantic region. A Category 1 hurricane (sustained one-minute winds of 74-95 mph) can be expected to do widespread Category 2 and 3-type damage. Isolated areas may see Category 4-type losses. Leafy trees and other vegetation, less wind-resistant structures and infrastructure, as well as, perhaps, other yet to be identified factors are responsible for the region’s wind susceptibility. Also, Saffir- Simpson estimates of tidal surge, particular in the Chesapeake Bay region, seem understated based on observations during Hurricane Isabel.

Rapidly advancing hurricanes, those with forward speeds greater than 30 mph, seem to have a greater ability to deflect higher winds aloft down to the surface, mainly in the northeastern sector (when the storm is tracking in a northerly direction). The strongest winds are location specific. As described by an observer in Washington, DC., after the great windstorm of September 1896, “In hundreds of instances a well constructed roof, rafters and all, was blown off, while close by very frail structures at the same height were uninjured.” Any Category 3 or stronger hurricane making landfall from the Carolinas on north and accelerating above 30 mph threatens destructive winds well inland.

‘Major’ hurricane Mid-Atlantic style: Meteorologists define a ‘major’ hurricane as possessing at least Category 3 strength (sustained winds of at least 111 mph). Because of the Middle Atlantic states’ susceptibility to wind damage, a Category 1 hurricane (sustained winds of 74-95 mph) tracking through interior sections will cause major destruction. Furthermore, a tropical cyclone that stalls off the Mid- Atlantic coast for more than a day may produce major shoreline damage even if it is something less than a Category 3.

Tropical cyclones bring great differences in rainfall and wind speeds over short distances. Tropical Storm Hanna (Sept 2008), for example, dumped less than two inches of rain to more than eight inches in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. Hurricane Isabel (Sept. 2003) lashed Washington and its suburbs with peak gusts ranging from less than 50 mph to nearly 80 mph. (Higher winds aloft reached the surface unevenly.)

When evaluating the severe weather risk associated with a hurricane, it is important to consider the possibility of violent storms in the air mass ahead of the tropical cyclone, in adjacent weather systems, and in the air mass behind. The worst weather may occur indirectly, outside the hurricane’s circulation, sometimes days before or after. Tropical Storm Nicole in 2010 is an example, as huge rainfall occurred in the tropical flow that was only partially part of Nicole. In September 2011, Tropical Storm Lee disintegrated as an organized weather system soon after landfall in September 2011. Its remnants merged with other weather features to produce catastrophic flooding in part of the Mid-Atlantic region.

The Mid-Atlantic region boasts some of the most intense short-term downpours on earth. A few are related to tropical cyclones. The intense rainfall does not necessarily correlate to elevation. Hurricane Camille, for example, dumped more than 27 inches of rain on sections of Nelson County, Virginia, within about five hours in August 1969. Thunderstorms stalled by a hurricane off the New Jersey coast bucketed Ewan, New Jersey, (just 20 miles south of Philadelphia) with more than 22 inches in about 10 hours during September 1940. (While Nelson County is mountainous, Ewan is nearly at sea level.)

On rare occasions, for unknown reasons, remnant hurricane systems have regenerated while their centers of circulation were over land. All such incidents have been heralded by a surge in rainfall intensity, resulting in generalized and flash flooding. Some examples include the Great Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 and hurricanes Cleo (1964), Camille (1969), Agnes (1972) and Gaston (2004).

A hurricane deluge is of particular concern in mountainous areas. Steep slopes in mountainous sections allow rapid runoff. An extreme event, such as occurred with Hurricane Camille, can liquefy the soil generating deadly mud flows. Meanwhile, Mid-Atlantic urban sections, often situated on hilly terrain, are at risk of flash flooding. Concrete, asphalt and other impervious surfaces reduce the absorption of rainwater, increasing runoff. The monsoonal downpours of a tropical cyclone can quickly turn destructive and deadly, as occurred with Hurricane Gaston in 2004 when it pounded the Richmond, Virginia., metro area with rainfall totals that topped 10 inches.

Remnant systems tracking through the Mid-Atlantic region may spawn tornadoes, particularly in the northeastern sector (if tracking in a northerly direction). They are generally short-lived, with intermittent tracks usually less than five miles. Pinpointing where a tornado will touch down is beyond our present knowledge. Although most have occurred during daylight, a considerable number have prowled at night.

Modular Home Hurricane Safety Information

Homes By Vanderbuilt Hurricane Safety Information for Modular Homes

It is not advisable to remain inside any home in the path of a hurricane. The driving rain, pelting hail and forceful winds are highly unpredictable and can cause massive damage to any structure. While no one should suggest that a homeowner ride out a major storm in his home, there is a great deal of data showing that modular homes are better able to withstand storm damage than their site built counterparts.

Modular homes are built from the same basic materials and to the same building code as a site built home. However, modular homes are built to withstand the rigors of being transported from the factory to the home site and lifted onto the foundation by a crane. Evidence suggest that this fact makes them better suited to prevail against the forces of a hurricane.

The local building codes determine how a modular home is built. That means that in areas prone to hurricanes and high winds, like coastal North Carolina or Florida, the state and local government sets the standards for home construction. Any home, whether site built or modular, must meet the needs of the place where it will reside.

The US and, in particular, its coastal states are divided into wind zones. The closer one gets to the coast, the higher the wind zone number will be. Higher wind zones numbers mean more stringent building requirements. A vulnerable area like coastal North Carolina would have a wind zone III rating while the western areas of the state rank a wind zone I rating. Modular homes either meet or exceed the requirements set by the building code.

In addition to meeting or exceeding the local building codes and wind zone requirements, modular homes also have to be built for travel. Modular homes are built in sections in a factory then moved on trucks to the building site. Each section is built strong enough to be moved in this way. To achieve this additional strength, modular homes typically use significantly more lumber and fasteners in their framing.

This strength was studied by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) after Hurricane Andrew made landfall in 1992. Andrew devastated Miami and much of southern Florida. It was only the third Category 5 hurricane to make landfall in the US. After an in depth study, here are some of FEMA’s conclusions concerning modular homes:
“Overall, relatively minimal structural damage was noted in modular housing developments. The module-to-module combination of the units appears to have provided an inherently rigid system that performed much better than conventional residential framing. This was evident in both the transverse and longitudinal.”

While it is unwise to remain in the path of a hurricane, modular homes that happen to be in the path of storms are often the ones left standing.

Visit Homes By Vanderbuilt for more information on Eco-friendly Modular Homes and innovative housing alternatives to assisted living.

Modular Homes Survived 160 MPH Tornado!

Homes By Vanderbuilt

Continuing with the theme of this website of providing home buyers with relevant information regarding modular homes versus natural elements, Homes By Vanderbuilt brings you another story about how these modular homes withstood 160 MPH tornado winds.

A tornado struck Western Massachusetts with 160 MPH winds on June 1, 2011. Two modular homes that were directly in the tornado’s path fared much better than any of the surrounding stick built homes. This video shows the destructive path of the tornado and what it did to each of the homes in it’s path.

The second contains interviews with both families about how they and their modular homes survived the twister’s ravaging winds while most of the other homes in the neighborhood were completely destroyed.

Based in Sanford, North Carolina, Homes by Vanderbuilt is a licensed general contractor specializing in the design and construction of modular homes in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. Homes By Vanderbuilt has the nation’s largest model home display. They have been in business for nearly 30 years.

Are Modular Homes Strong Enough To Withstand Hurricanes?

Homes By Vanderbuilt – Modular Homes Are Stronger Than Site-Built, says FEMA

Homes By Vanderbuilt Radar Map North CarolinaCurrent Conditions of NC Coast
At Homes by Vanderbuilt, one of the questions we get asked the most from buyers of a custom modular home is “are modular homes strong enough to with stand a hurricane?
We’ve always said that our building system produces structures that are far stronger than site built housing. For example, each modular section is built to withstand the shock of highway transport, and they can contain up to 30% more building materials than a comparable site-built home. The drywall is usually glued and then screwed to the wall studs and triple-headers are used over window openings and around stairwells, to withstand the stress of being loaded by a crane and carried on the highway.

The folks at Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) concur that modular homes can withstand a hurricane much better than site built housing. In its report “Building Performance: Hurricane Andrew in Florida,” assessment teams from FEMA concluded that modular homes withstood the 131-155 mph winds of the Category 4 storm in August of ’92 far better than site built housing.

“Overall, relatively minimal structural damage was noted in modular housing developments. The module-to-module combination of units appears to have provided an inherently rigid system that performed much better than conventional residential framing. This was evident in both the transverse and longitudinal directions of the modular buildings,” according to the report.

(Get your free copyof the report by calling FEMA at 800-480-2520, publication number FIA-22, item 3-0180)

Homes By Vanderbuilt offers affordable and quickly built modular housing for hurricane victims and custom permanent homes as well to replace their previous structures. Folks in coastal North Carolina are no strangers to hurricanes and the damage they can cause. In 1996 Hurricane Bertha caused over $55 Million in damages and a few weeks later Hurricane Fran caused another $2.4 Billion. Double hurricanes struck again in 1999 with Hurricane Dennis and Hurricane Floyd causing over $4 Billion in damages as well.

For more information on how a custom modular from Homes By Vanderbuilt is a better investment if you live in a coastal state that is in the path of many hurricanes, please visit Homes By Vanderbuilt

Homes By Vanderbuilt: Hurricane Prep Guide

Homes By Vanderbuilt: Hurricane Prep Guide

“…to be prepared is half the victory.” ~ Miguel de Cervantes

The North Carolina Coast is prone to hurricanes, so planning for them may seem obvious. FEMA, Ready.gov and the National Hurricane Center offer a myriad of tips, but Homes By Vanderbuilt has compiled a list of our own simple tips that can help you weather the storms:

Have A Plan:

Make a family emergency plan, which includes identifying an out-of-town contact, making sure all family members know how to text-message, and making a contact card for each member of your family. Have them keep these cards handy in a wallet, purse or backpack, etc.

You should ask about emergency plans at places where your family is likely to be: work, schools and church. If no current plans exist, consider volunteering to create one.

Keep spares of any personal toiletries and prescription medications.

Make sure your cell phone is charged. You might want to buy a portable power device, which you can charge in advance and plug your phone into later.

Assemble a disaster supplies kit with food, water, medical supplies and a battery-powered radio. Include batteries, flashlights and other items. You should have enough to get through three days after a hurricane hits. The National Hurricane Center has a printable checklist here. You might want to keep a similar kit in a backpack or tote bag if you’re told to evacuate.

Have a full tank of gas in your vehicle, cash, and your disaster supplies kit ready to go.

How To Prep Your Home:

Homes by Vanderbuilt Hurricane Prep Guide

Batten Down The Hatches

Make sure your important documents (including birth and marriage certificates, social security cards, passports, wills, deeds and financial and insurance records) are in a flood and fire proof location or safe deposit box.

Make sure your freezer is at 0°F or below and the refrigerator is at 40°F or below. If your power goes out, open and close them sparingly. Have coolers and ice available in case the power is out for more than four hours.

Lower your storm windows. If you have shutters that can be closed, close and secure them.

If you know the water in your home stops running if the power goes out, fill your bathtub and other large containers, such as pots or mixing bowls, with water for bathing, flushing toilets and cleaning. Do Not drink this water.

If your smoke and carbon monoxide dectectors are hard-wired, make sure you have battery backups. If your detectors are normally battery-powered, test them to check that the batteries still work.

Cover your windows with plywood if you think your home could be in danger of flying projectiles.

Garage doors are often the first feature to fail in a storm. Reinforce all garage doors.

How To Prep Your Yard:

Trim any weak, dead or overhanging branches from trees and bushes.

Clear rain gutters and downspouts.

Secure your lawn furniture, planters and other outdoor items, or bring them inside.

Turn off propane tanks. Shut off other utilities if emergency officials advise you to do so.

If you have a gas grill, the most important thing is to separate the propane tank from the grill. Bring at least the propane tank inside or store it in your garage. If you can’t bring the entire grill inside, make sure you tie it down.

If You Are Ordered To Evacuate:

Turn off all utilities if authorities advise you to do so.

Leave immediately. If you think there might be a chance you’ll be evacuated, pack in advance.

Stick to designated evacuation routes. If you need help, this is the most likely place to find it.

What To Do During The Storm:

Do not go outside, even in the storm’s early stages, due to the potential for flying debris.

Close all doors, stay clear of windows, and keep curtains and blinds shut.

Be aware that a sudden lull in the storm could just be the eye of the storm passing over. The storm will resume.

What To Do After The Storm:

Be careful when you go outside — watch for downed power lines, broken glass and damage to building foundations.

Do not attempt to walk or drive through water. Standing water may be electrically charged from power lines, and moving water only six inches deep can sweep you off your feet.

Don’t drink tap water until you know it is safe.

If you have property damage, contact your insurance company as soon as possible.

Standard homeowners or renters insurance generally covers damage from wind and rain, but they generally don’t cover problems from groundwater. Keep in mind that most insurance companies require flood insurance to be purchased at least 30 days in advance before that portion of the policy is activated. Consider purchasing flood insurance so that you’ll be covered for next time.

Homes By Vanderbuilt builds custom modular homes that are stronger than site-built homes. We primarily build on the most hurricane prone area of the country; Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. For more information on Homes by Vanderbuilt, please visit at Homes By Vanderbuilt.