Hurricane straps versus building codes
Some years ago, you had two choices on Caye Caulker. You built for a
hurricane, or you didn't In wood, building for a hurricane, meant posts
that went down about 7 feet. Normally people only dig 3 feet. It also
meant that all floor sills and roofing sills had to be mortise and tenon
lap joints. The roof itself had to be gabled. I think that is the right
world. But it is where the roof comes into the center from all four
corners. There are four ridge lines. The reason for this is, that
hurricane winds press the roof on the house and not lift it off. Anybody
with a flat sided end on the house roof will invariably have damage or
lose it. You also put 10 inch by quarter inch thick iron corner iron,
thru bolted, not nailed, but thru bolted. The only houses on Caye
Caulker that survived Hurricane Hattie in 1961 were so built. That is a
right angled bracket on all floor sills to the upright studs and to house
posts. Also all roof trusses are done the same way, with iron right
angles thru bolted.
The other choice is to not build for strength, but build for blow away,
were you want a total loss. This latter was my own philosphy. Insure for
replacement cost and build cheap so nothing survives. Throwaway house.
Insurance companies in Belize in recent years now will not for the most
part insure a wooden house.
The cement construction on the Cayes is very much stronger than any
equivalent building codes in South Florida. Here it is a joke. The only
code that is sensible, is the hurricane window shutter code, which has to
stand a 2 x 4 lumber spit out of a air gun at 120 mph like a bullet from
15 feet away. I have seen concrete sills in Hurricane Andrew literally
be blown away. They don't put enough steel rod and tie them together
enough. That hurricane shutter gun by the way will put a 2 x 4 through a
cement block wall. in a nice hole.
Cement is the best choice with lots of tie in steel in Belize. But the
roofs have to be tied down and use angle iron, through bolted to all
joists and trusses. The roof itself has to be gabled. Then you will
survive everything, but a tidal surge that can dig out your foundation.
But even so, the house should stay intact, though it may be tossed on an
angle, or side.