Florida is one of the more tiny house friendly states in the US, but past disasters like Hurricane Irma can make you think twice about living in one. For the most part, builders focus on things like insulation and siding material to protect their homes from rain, heat, and snow, with a tendency to overlook another potentially disastrous factor: wind.
So, can tiny houses survive hurricanes? Yes, they can. With the right precautions and sturdy building materials, a tiny house can stand against incredible wind speeds. In fact, some tiny houses are even engineered to withstand category 5 hurricanes.
Still unconvinced that tiny homes can withstand hurricanes? Read on to learn more.
Tiny House Survival: What Are The Odds?
In 2017, Hurricane Irma, one of the strongest hurricanes to ever hit Florida, left in its wake billions of dollars in destroyed property. You would think that tiny houses won’t stand a chance in a category 4 hurricane, but one tiny house proves just how resilient these microstructures can be.
The Traveler XL is a 344 square feet tiny house built by ESCAPE. It weighs anywhere from 11,000 to 13,000 lbs, depending on the options you purchase.
Simply put, The Traveler XL is nothing out of the ordinary and is even quite representative of how most tiny houses are built. It’s essentially average, for all intents and purposes.
And yet this model managed to survive one of the greatest calamities experienced in Florida. Dan from ESCAPE tiny houses shared the picture above showing the unscathed structure after Irma hit Miami.
“Wind speeds were 100 mph, the stucco house on the property was damaged, trees down everywhere (see in the background), water came up…our unit did not have a scratch, no leaks, no water issues, no problems, 100% OK.”
The Traveler XL doesn’t come with weatherproofing, but if it can survive incredible speeds as a standalone model, it’s a clear example that tiny houses can be built to withstand the worst, with even better chances of survival following careful planning and weatherproofing.
Weatherproofing Your Tiny: Why Do It Anyway
The truth is you don’t have to live in a hurricane-prone state to weatherproof your tiny home for all conditions. Just merely traveling with your tiny house can already expose it to damage caused by force winds.
Wind speeds of 30 to 40 mph may not seem like much, but add to that your traveling speed and it can easily add up to 90 to 100 in wind speeds (category 1 hurricane force winds measure 75 to 95 mph.
Weatherproofing your tiny house for all possible scenarios, including hurricanes, will leave you better protected in the long run.
Hurricane-Proof Tiny House Designs
On the other hand, calamities like Irma have made builders more conscientious about construction, so much so that there are mobile home designers engineering homes that can withstand hurricanes.
We collected some amazing tiny house designs that are guaranteed to be hurricane-proof. These designs offer lessons on construction, which can inspire you to build your own hurricane-proof tiny abode.
1) Cubicco Cabana
The Cubicco tiny house and modular build company in Florida is selling a tiny Cabana that’s built to withstand wind velocities of up to 180 mph, and has been inspected and approved by the State of Florida.
The standard model includes exterior features that were thoughtfully made to withstand hurricanes. Things like a flat roof, impact doors and windows, and steel leg support help the home brace strong winds. The structure is pre-built in a factory and transported to the location, using laminated beams and concrete on the outside. The Cabana measures 8 x 12 feet and costs $17,000.
Atelierworkshop’s Port-A-Bach tiny house model is a new take on container homes. One of the most important aspects of weatherproofing for a hurricane is using material that can withstand winds and even protect glass surfaces. However, this effectively limits the materials you can use on your tiny house exterior, which may not be a viable option for some designers.
Port-A-Bach’s unique design involves the use of detachable steel panes that fold up and drop down to reveal a makeshift patio. This design allows owners to “close up” the home during storms and other natural disasters, which will completely seal off the inside from any exterior damage.
The best thing about Port-A-Bach’s design is that it’s accessible and easy to replicate. Even if you can’t afford to install full panels for your home’s siding, you can adapt the same strategy to protect doors, windows, and other fragile areas of your home.
3) Sol Duc Cabin
Sol Duc Cabin addresses another hurricane issue aside from strong winds: flooding. This tiny house model is elevated on reinforced metal stilts, which protects the home from general dampness and the occasional flooding.
If you’re living in a hurricane and flood-prone area, heed advice from the designers of Sol Duc Cabin and consider building your tiny house on a strong, elevated foundation.
In the day, the Sol Duc Cabin boasts huge window panes that let in plenty of natural light. Unfortunately, big windows aren’t the best protection against strong gusts of wind. However, attached to the front of the home is an unfinished, mild steel plate that can be slid in place to protect these windows and the rest of the home. The gigantic “barn door” seals away the home and protects it from harsh hurricane force winds.
What to Expect
One of the advantages of living in a tiny house on wheels is that you can easily avoid hurricanes, or at the very least adjust your location and park it in a much safer location. With wheels, you’re able to flee or relocate to a more open space, away from trees and electrical line posts that may fall.
That’s not to say that tiny homes are completely invulnerable to hurricanes and other natural disasters. This is especially true if you’re building your tiny house from scratch and don’t have access to materials and systems that would guarantee hurricane-proofing.
At the end of the day, hurricane damage is unavoidable. Knowing what to expect in a tiny home can help you mitigate any damages and prepare better.
- Torrential rains can lead to flooding, at which point it will be difficult to flee. If you live in an area that is prone to flooding, consider elevating your home to keep it safe from the flood. At the very least, reinforce your windows, doors, and other gaps with waterproof seals to prevent water from coming into your home.
- Long-term erosion can occur during a hurricane. Make sure your parking spot is safe. Choose one that is situated away from trees, hills, and cliffs.
- Roof and siding damage are common in bigger homes and can also occur in tiny houses. Siding and roofing pieces can be uprooted by strong gusts of wind. Protect your home from damage by ensuring these are installed properly and securely.
- Windows and other glass surfaces may break due to hurricane force winds. You can use impact windows and doors or simply board it up with wood to protect the glass surface from wind impact.
- Tiny houses not bolted down to the trailer might topple over during a hurricane. To prevent this from happening, ensure your tiny home is bolted down. Take into consideration other structures around your tiny home. Pack up or bolt down furniture and other structures near your tiny house so they don’t fly against your house and cause major structural damages.
- If you’re living off-grid with your own solar panels, take these into consideration when preparing for a hurricane. Building a sturdy shed that will house the panels during a storm is a great way to protect your home. Make sure you have a generator in hand just in case your harvested solar energy runs out.
Read more: Are Tiny Houses Safe?
How to Weatherproof Your Tiny House
1) Think About Your Parking
Sometimes weatherproofing is as simple as parking your tiny house in a better location. If you can figure out which direction the wind will be coming from, you can minimize the damage by parking your home away from that.
Another thing you can do is park your home next to a bigger, stronger structure so the wind doesn’t hit your property.
Using tarpaulin around your parking spot is a great way to create windbreaks that will reduce the amount of pressure your actual home receives.
2) Use Better Materials
Everything starts with the build. Homeowners living in extremely cold and hot locations focus on insulation more than anything else. As someone who lives in a hurricane-prone area, you should consider your environment when designing your tiny house.
This means that you may have to source projectile-level windows and glass surfaces that are a little bit stronger than normal fixtures. Instead of choosing shingles for your siding and roof, consider getting sheets of corrugated steel installed to prevent individual pieces from flying up.
All the materials you incorporate into your tiny house can determine whether or not it can withstand strong winds, so choose wisely.
3) Seal All Holes
Strong winds aren’t the only thing you should think about during a hurricane. Rain can easily penetrate your home and introduce unwanted moisture into your structure. Perform a check-up around your tiny house and ensure all homes are sealed. Caulk holes with a sealant to keep water from going inside and seeping through your structure.
4) Install Hurricane Shutters
Hurricane shutters are installable add-ons that protect windows, doors, and other glass surfaces from flying debris. These shutters come in all shapes and sizes, with costs ranging anywhere from $90 to $200. Some hurricane shutters can be attached with DIY installation, while others may require professional installation.
Polycarbonate guards are an affordable way to protect tiny houses against wind damage. This kind of shutter is made out of plastic and will guard your entryways against flying debris.
Accordion shutters, which have to be moved before the storm, are a great way to protect entire sections of your home with sturdier materials. These can be installed and removed when necessary.
5) Install Hurricane Ties
Hurricane ties are additional hardware that you can install to ensure all joints and frames are tightly secured. Hurricane ties work by connecting trusses and rafters on the top wall of the structure, which helps reinforce the structure against strong winds and even earthquakes.
Watch how they do it at Cornerstone Tiny Homes:
6) Consider Anchoring Your Home
Anchoring is the process of securing an object to solid ground to prevent it from toppling over. Different anchors are available for different soil conditions, including concrete. If you’re parked outdoors, an auger anchor works best for hard soil. If you live in a rocky area, rock anchors can drive beneath the surface and prevent your home from toppling over.
The first step in anchoring your tiny house is finding stable, level ground. Next, figure out what soil type you’re parked on and find the most appropriate type of anchoring for that.
Read more: How to Earthquake Proof Tiny House
Tiny Houses: Small But Secure
Don’t let their size fool you: tiny houses are built to last. With the right reinforcement and proper planning, even the smallest tiny house can withstand strong winds and minimize structural damages.
Preparing for a calamity is never a fun activity, but it’s necessary if you want to ensure your tiny house can withstand anything. We hope you can use our tips when weatherproofing your own tiny abode. Stay safe!
Hey, there! We're Ivan and Manuela from Croatia, and we're crazy about tiny houses. We don't own one (yet).
This website is a result of our passion to share all the knowledge, photos, tips and tricks that we were able to learn while studying everything possible about the tiny house movement.