Why should you get a wind mitigation inspection?
Wind mitigation is the application of the recommendations that result from a wind mitigation inspection report. It is the process of adding features to a home to increase its resistance to damage from wind storms. A wind mitigation inspection, sometimes called a windstorm inspection, is a visual inspection of your home, its features, and the surrounding area to estimate how much damage your home could experience during an intense windstorm. The resulting report can have multiple benefits for a homeowner.
The most important benefit is safety preparedness for wind storms like cyclones, hurricanes, and tornadoes, so let’s discuss wind.
A tropical cyclone is a low-pressure rotating weather system that occurs on water and can move onto land. When it exceeds 39 mph, it becomes a tropical storm. When the cyclone’s maximum sustained winds exceed 74 mph, it is considered a (category 1) hurricane. A Category 5 hurricane exceeds 155 mph. The states most commonly impacted by hurricanes are Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and South and North Carolina.
Damaging winds are also known as straight-line winds. They exceed 50 – 60 mph and are the result of downdraft thunderstorms. Tornados are rotating, violently windy columns of air that descend from thunderstorms to the ground. States that see the most tornadoes each year are Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Mississippi, Illinois, and Iowa, but they can occur anywhere, any time of year. A home that can withstand a natural disaster like a hurricane or storm can help any homeowner sleep better.
A wind mitigation inspection can also give you an idea of what cost to protect your home and your investment with insurance. Generally, a standard home insurance policy will cover some loss due to natural disasters like tornadoes and hurricanes, but not always. This is especially true in high-risk coastal regions. In Florida’s homes, wind-damage risk accounts for 15-70 percent of the premiums. Deductibles can be as high as $20,000 – wind mitigation can decrease insurance premiums.
If you are looking at purchasing a home in a high-risk area, your lender will require an additional, specialized policy known as Windstorm Insurance.
Wind mitigation can also increase your home’s value. Real estate has historically been a strong market to invest in and diversify your portfolio but to maximize the returns, you need to be sure the investment is sound. Sound house equals sound investment.
Wind mitigation techniques
The installation of a secondary roof water intrusion system (like applying an adhesive polymer modified bitumen tape over roof panel joints) can decrease damage caused by water ingress.
The type of roof, age, and attachment method will determine how much wind it can sustain. Nails are recommended over staples if your roof is composite, tile, or shingle. Metal roofing that has been reinforced with screws and edge details can withstand winds of 135mph.
A hipped roof is considered the better choice because it experiences smaller wind pressures and has gutters running the entire perimeter, helping rain drainage. A gable roof catches more wind and rain and is more susceptible to uplift and racking.
Regardless of roof type, you can increase the security of your home against high winds by bracing the roof trusses and rafters so they withstand wind from any direction and brace the gable ends and gable overhangs. Another retrofit recommendation for roofs and walls is to install water-resistant or ruggedized wiring.
Confirm all attachments, lumbar, and board are capable of withstanding the wind load minimum requirements for your area for a roof deck. Improved resistance to wind and water infiltration through proper roof underlay can decrease the damage to furniture, finishing, and other contents as well as decrease the opportunity for mold growth and roof collapse. Hurricane clips are recommended as increased supports where the walls meet the roof and where the walls meet the foundation. Check your local government for retrofit rebates.
Like the roof-deck attachments and modifications, your home will benefit from installing a secondary water barrier throughout the envelope. These water barriers, like polymer-modified bitumen, protect the structure of the home even when the siding has been damaged or ripped off due to winds.
Windows and sliding glass doors are particularly susceptible to damage from flying debris. During damaging winds, tornadoes, and hurricanes, the winds can put so much force and suction against a window that it can take the entire window, including its frame, out of the house. Reinforcing the glazing and using storm shutters can help with flying debris, but ensuring the windows are installed and reinforced directly into the house’s frame can greatly decrease the chances of the window being ripped out. Once the wind has access to the home, it can build up pressure leading to structural damage.
A garage door is more susceptible to wind damage because of its width. Damaging winds can force it out of its track. Check with your local government for code requirements. Retrofit reinforcement kits are available, but they will only be useful if they comply with local codes. Remember, the inspector will know what code is and what is cosmetic. You need to adhere to the code if you are trying to save money by getting rebates and discounts. Hiring a garage door specialist in your area could be worth the money.
Preparing for a wind mitigation inspection
There are several reasons a person decides to get a wind mitigation inspection. If you are purchasing a home in an area prone to damaging winds, hurricanes, or tornadoes, it can be a requirement for the purchase by your lender. It could be that you have recently experienced damage from extreme wind and your insurance requires you to retrofit your property to decrease the likelihood of future damage. Or perhaps you are upgrading existing features of your home for hurricane preparedness, rebates, and a decrease in your insurance premiums. Just like a home inspection, there are ways you can prepare for your wind mitigation inspection.
Have your files ready, including any receipts for retrofit wind mitigation, your site survey, and the title for your property. You will also want to provide any copies of inspections you’ve done in the past. This can include home inspections, HVAC, electrical, plumbing, and water. Contact your inspector beforehand to confirm any paperwork they require and what format they prefer — hard copies or digital.
Remove any debris, clutter, outdoor furniture, and yard waste from the exterior of your home. Ensure the inspector can access all exterior doors, windows, gables, stairways, the garage, storm cellar, and outbuildings. During the inspection, the wind mitigation inspector will take photos, video, or both, to include in their report. This report will also go to the insurance company and your local government if you are submitting for a wind mitigation grant.
Ensure all areas of your home are easily accessible, including the path to the circuit breaker, attic, crawl space, basement entryways, door frames, windows, and exit points like venting systems. This makes the job easier and faster for the wind mitigation inspector.
Strong and damaging winds are a certainty in several regions of the United States. A wind mitigation inspection can give you the information you need to retrofit your home and the peace of mind knowing you, your family, and your investment are safe. It can also give you access to government rebates and discounts on your insurance, and who doesn’t love a little extra money.