Simulating storms to save homes - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Simulating storms to save homes

Ever since late 2010, the Institute for Business and Home Safety has been destroying homes on purpose.

Two new houses sit side by side - one survives and the other, not so much.

"The conventionally built homes were completely destroyed and blown away," says Joseph King with the IBHS center.

This looks like a lot of fun, but King says the information engineers have collected from these tests are already being put to work to make homes safer. "It's their biggest single investment … no one wants to come home to a slab."

One specimen house has been moved twice and has survived six - that's right - six category three hurricanes inside the simulator and aside from a few cosmetic blemishes, it survived all of those beatings because of special straps and nails that were installed.

And most of the blemishes didn't come from the tests, but post test autopsies. King says, "We needed to go in and see what's happening with some of these connections."

In one test, the upstairs of the fortified house almost separated from the downstairs.

So engineers went to a local hardware store bought about 20 metal braces for a dollar each, installed them, then put the house back in the chamber.

"Nothing happened - the home just stood there said 'give me more, give me more' and no damage was done to the interior of this home," said King.

To make those upgrades to your home, King says, would only cost $500 - $1,000. Or, if you're pretty handy with a hammer, you can install the upgrades yourself to save more money.

Doing so could add value to your home and possibly save it from the wrath of a storm one day.

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