Designing homes to be hurricane resilient

As the 2019 Hurricane Season is approaching and I am recalling the storms along coastal South Carolina in 2018, I am reminded how important incorporating hurricane resilient home design is. Since almost all of our work is along the coast of South Carolina where there is always a risk of hurricanes, we think about how to best design homes that can withstand severe weather everyday.  We wanted to share some of our design strategies to make a safer and more resilient home.

  • We raise the home up on piers so it is higher than the height of flood water. In fact, we make the home high enough so it is higher than a really big flood that might happen only once in a 100 years.
  • Slope the grade away from the home so any rainwater falling off the roof drains away from the home.
  • Incorporate as much pervious areas (lawn, planting areas, pervious paving) as possible into the landscape design so that as much water as possible can be absorbed by the soil.
  • We bring in fill so that the height of the garage slab underneath the home is higher than the surrounding area, reducing the possibility of the garage area flooding after a heavy rain.
  • Provide flood vents in any enclosed areas in the garage level.
  • Incorporate all of the structural hold downs needed so the roof is attached to the walls, the walls are attached to the first floor, the first floor is attached to the piers and the piers are solidly embedded in the ground so the home can resist hurricane force winds
  • Design steel structural frames around large windows and doors so the home can resist hurricane force winds despite the large opening and also so the walls don’t flex around the large opening and cause damage to the doors and windows.
  • Use some kind of impact protection on all of the doors and windows. This includes options such as installing windows with impact glass or installing operable impact resistant shutters.
  • Specifying high quality products so they are durable enough to withstand the beating of strong winds and driving rain. This includes things like installing windows that are designed to resist driving rain and installing copper flashing at all windows so rain does not leak around the window frame into the wall of the home.
  • Install a back up generator
  • Provide covered protection over all of the exterior doors by either locating the doors on a covered porch or adding a canopy over the door.


There are many more strategies, but these are the main ones you can incorporate into a coastal home that may need to withstand a hurricane.  If you are interested in knowing how to build safe, resilient homes, please shoot us an email at info@swallowtailarchitetcure.  We’d love to talk!