Are Tornado-Proof Houses Worth the Investment?

A tornado spins in a field beneath a supercell thunderstorm during a severe weather event

Extreme weather is becoming more common every year. And tornados are a leading cause of property damage. Worse still, tornados are becoming more common outside of the usual Tornado Alley of the Midwest. Here are some things to consider if you build homes in tornado-prone areas.

How Much Do Tornados Cost Each Year?

On average, the US sees about 1,333 tornados a year, with each storm costing roughly $2.5 million. That’s over $3.3 billion every year.

With those statistics in mind, the idea of tornado-proofing a home may sound like a good idea. However, this can be expensive and aesthetically unappealing. Should home builders invest in this type of structure? Here’s what you need to know to make your decision.

Do Tornado-Proof Houses Exist?

Simply, no. There’s no such thing as a completely tornado-proof house.

According to a report on wind research, a tornado-resistant home would need the following components:

  • Missile-resistant walls, roof, windows, doors, and garage doors to protect it from airborne debris.
  • Structural elements and connections capable of withstanding 250 mph wind pressures.
  • Construction that is more than 7.5 times as strong as that of a building designed according to conventional building code standards.

These criteria make it exceedingly expensive and difficult to build truly tornado-resistant homes regularly, especially in the markets that see the most tornados.

Protecting Windows From Wind Damage: Why and How

How to Make a Home Safer During Tornados

So, completely tornado-proofing a home will be far too cost-prohibitive for most builders and buyers. But, if you’d like to build in an area prone to tornados, there are some things that you can do to make it safer.

Build a Tornado Saferoom

One option that many homeowners in states like Oklahoma choose is a reinforced saferoom to protect their families from tornados.

FEMA has laid out criteria for qualified safe rooms, and you can view their criteria here, but saferooms typically have reinforced walls and no windows.

You Build it, We'll back you up.

Learn why 1 in 5 new homes nationwide are covered by a 2-10 HBW Structural Warranty.

Reinforce the Roof to Protect Against Tornados

When a tornado is active, the winds blowing over a home exert tremendous pressure in various ways. It’s a deadly combination that lifts the roof, leaving the walls without lateral stability, which is why many homes hit by tornados look like they’ve exploded.

Essentially, keeping the roof on is vital to protecting the rest of the home. To reinforce roofs against tornados, you’ll need a structural reinforced concrete roof deck. These types of roofs are the only known roof systems that have consistently survived high-category hurricane and tornado velocity winds.

A safe room and a solid roof will go a long way toward keeping a home safe from tornados. But, there are other steps you can take to protect your builds. This list from Popular Mechanics is a useful resource that provides more suggestions on tornado-proofing your home builds, and it covers everything from DIY ease to the cost of each suggestion.

Pre-Emptively Protect the Home’s Windows

Windows are a key source of damage and injury during high-wind events. Between shattering glass and the risk of interior pressurization, windows are indeed a weak point during tornados. Read our guide on a few ways to protect windows against wind storms.

A White man with brown beard and white hardhat and gray zip-up jacket standing in front of the construction framing of a house

Go the Extra Mile With 2-10 HBW

While a structural warranty from 2-10 Home Buyers Warranty (2-10 HBW) won’t protect against damage from wind storms, tornados, and the like, it can help you protect against other, covered structural issues. And with complimentary marketing materials and guides, 2-10 HBW can help you explain to your clients how to protect themselves against the extreme elements.

Join the 1 in 5 new homes in the US that have a 2-10 HBW Structural Warranty today.

You Build it, We'll back you up.

Learn why 1 in 5 new homes nationwide are covered by a 2-10 HBW Structural Warranty.