What Would It Cost To Make Your House Truly Storm Proof? A Starter Shopping List.
Dan Bigman, over at Forbes, has personal experience to share!
They say there’s nothing dumber or more pointless than getting mad at the weather, but I can’t help it. Sitting in a little old cottage in Northern Fairfield County, Connecticut today, watching the trees sway and bounce off the power lines outside amid the terrifying and endless drone of Weather Channel, I must say I’m feeling a tad bit grumpy, and I know I’m not the only one.
And it’s hardly seeming like some once-in-a-lifetime event. There was Irene, which devastated my wife’s home state of Vermont, totally washing away the main street in her uncle’s town, driving another friend from her bed in the middle of the night with her two tiny kids in tow when picturesque brook became a raging river without warning. Last year’s October Surprise ice storm left this whole region without power for days. Then there’s those tornados in Brooklyn…We’re all feeling a bit like New Orleans residents now.
So sitting here listening to the wind and weathermen howl, I started having what I guess you could call a Sandy version of a revenge fantasy. What would you have to do, to spend, to make it so you’d never have to worry about your family’s safety again when yet another storm like this barreled into the region, or when the next noreaster dumped two feet of snow on the ground along with every power line in sight?
Luckily, the power’s still on and the Internet is still available. So I focus on three main areas: shelter, heat and power. If you can keep those going indefinitely, then worry about food and water becomes much reduced.
To guide my search I turn to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home safety, FEMA and the excellent and very pragmatic Louisiana Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, as well as a host of other sources. I’ll spare you more narrative now, and cut to the chase (because who knows when our power will be out): To really be able to ride out storms comfortably (very comfortably) plan on spending –gulp—more than $30 grand.
About $15,000/$600 per window, installed.
Expensive? Yeah. But heavy-duty aluminum storm shutters are certified to withstand 9-lb object hitting them at about 35 MPH. Tell me you wouldn’t feel safer right now if you had that standing between you and Sandy.
Garage Door/Door & Roof Reinforcements
Beefing up the most crucial elements of a house in high winds isn’t as expensive as you think. In the garage, a contractor can add additional horizontal bracing, as well as heavy-duty rollers and other hardware. The price runs about $600 a door. In the attic, adding additional structure to the gable ends of a roof will cost you a hundred or so more per end according to FEMA guidelines. Also, changing doors so they open out, not in, will help secure them in a storm.
Natural Gas or Wood Stove
Likely $5,000 installed.
Widely available, insures heat regardless of what the weather brings. Bonus: you can cook on it if need be.
Natural Gas Or Diesel-Powered Backup Generator
Likely $6,000 installed.
This is where we roll in the Rolls and really rack up the costs, but oh, would this be awesome today or what? Made by a variety of well-known vendors, from Briggs and Straton to General Electric, the natural gas version requires a plumber to make the connection to the gas and electrician to patch it into the house’s main breaker box. But once it’s in, you can live fully disconnected from power lines—until the natural gas stops.
About $5,000. No, not the kind of thing where Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart hid from bad guys. This is just a very solid section of your house where you can hold out if the weather gets absolutely life threatening. FEMA has ready-made plans available online to build yourself (or get a pro to build) a 64-square-foot shelter of either concrete or reinforced plywood, built to withstand very serious hurricane-force winds.
There is tons of smart, useful information available online. Where to start? FEMA.gov.
Don’t be bashful. Dan has lit the candle, now it’s up to you to do what’s necessary for your own storm-season comfort.