Are Tornado Proof Houses Worth the Investment



Should Builders Invest in Tornado-Proof Houses?

Are Tornado-Proof Homes Worth the Cost?

On average, 1,200 tornadoes cause approximately $400 million in damages throughout the U.S. each 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.

What Would You Need To Do To Build A 100% Tornado-Proof House?

First, let’s look at what it would take to completely and thoroughly tornado-proof a residential structure.

According to a report on wind research, a tornado-proof home would need the following components to be, in essence, “missile-resistant:”

  • Walls
  • Roof
  • Windows
  • Doors
  • Garage Doors

This criteria would stop flying debris and would protect the home’s structural elements from 250 mile per hour wind pressures.

That’s not all, though. The connections for long-span roofs and tall walls would have to be 7.5 times stronger than what is required by most building codes in the country. The report concludes, “Realistically speaking, it is not practical, much less reasonable, to build a tornado-proof house.”

How To Make A Home Safer During Tornadoes

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 tornadoes, there are some things that you can do to make it safer.

Build A Tornado Safe Room

One option that many homeowners in states like Oklahoma choose, is a reinforced “safe room” to protect their families from tornadoes.

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

Reinforce The Roof To Protect Against Tornadoes

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 tornadoes look like they’ve exploded.

Essentially, keeping the roof on is vital to protecting the rest of the home. To reinforce roofs against tornadoes, you’ll need a structural reinforced concrete roof deck. According to, 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 tornadoes. 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.

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