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The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) has created the FORTIFIED Home™ program to help homeowners strengthen their homes against hurricanes, high winds, hail and severe thunderstorms.

Remington Brown, PE, Senior Engineering Director for IBHS, explained that a FORTIFIED Home adheres to a set of engineering and building standards —developed using more than 20 years of storm damage investigations at the IBHS Research Center under the Component Materials Evaluation Testing (COMET) program. Dubbed the “National Standard for Resilient Construction,” the standards are designed to help make new and existing detached single-family homes (including manufactured homes that meet certain criteria) more resistant to damage from hurricanes, tropical storms, hailstorms, high winds and wind-driven rain through system-specific building upgrades to minimum building code requirements.

The FORTIFIED Home program has three levels of designation—Bronze, Silver and Gold—that build upon each other, allowing homeowners to choose the desired level of protection that best suits their budgets and resilience goals. The Bronze level addresses the roof system. The Silver level, in addition to the roof system covered within the Bronze level, addresses windows, doors and attached structures, focusing on impact-resistant products. The Gold level builds on the Silver level to tie the house together by examining the load path from the roof to the walls to the floors to the foundation, to ensure it acts as one system to resist wind-induced uplift forces.

To qualify a project as a Fortified Home, there is a six-step process that begins with an application. A Certified FORTIFIED Evaluator must be selected and scheduled to have the home evaluated and its current condition documented. The resulting written report will include an analysis of the home’s current condition as well as actions needed to achieve each of the FORTIFIED levels of designation.

The homeowner must then work with a building professional to have the required retrofits completed. Note that contractors, builders, manufacturers of building materials and tradespeople in related industries can attend training courses offered by IBHS to learn how to build stronger, safer homes. Once the upgrades are completed, a follow-up inspection would grant a formal FORTIFIED Home designation.