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.
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