May 24, 2011
People thinking about fortifying their homes against the wind's wrath after seeing the damage caused by this year's rash of powerful, deadly tornadoes should think twice, architects and engineers say.
Though it is possible to build a tornado-proof home, experts say it is probably not worth the expense, which is likely to be at least 20 percent more in construction costs than a normal home, or worth the trouble.
"You're talking about very well designed connections all the way down, very well engineered and very well tied together," said Stan Peterson, a member of the American Institute of Architecture disaster assistance task force.
"You have to build to such high standards that when you try to make the entire house safe, that's not sensible," said Ernst Kiesling, a professor of civil engineering at Texas Tech University and executive director for the National Storm Shelter Association. "It greatly increases the cost [to build] the house."
According to Texas Tech's Wind Science and Engineering Research Center website, a home's walls, roof, windows, doors and garage doors would have to be "missile resistant" for it to be considered tornado-proof. The entire home would have to be able to stop projectiles hurling through the air at 200 mph, depending on the level of the tornado.