Living in Hawaii, which is prone to hurricanes and tropical storms, it is a smart idea to have a hurricane safe room installed in your home. Even though we haven’t had a hurricane hit since 1992, Hurricanes regularly come close to our shores. It’s always best to make sure you are prepared for the worst.
Older Hawai’i homes that were constructed using the single wall method, typically haven’t endured a hurricane since their construction. Unless they have been retrofitted, they are vulnerable to structural collapse under a hurricane’s high wind pressure and wind borne debris impacts. As a general rule, homes on Oahu should consider having safe rooms if they were built before the late 1980’s.
The first thing to do before constructing your safe room is to check if your home is in a hurricane evacuation zone or an area prone to flooding. A safe room will not protect against the dangers of flooding. If you are not located in one of these areas, here are some things you should have in mind when designing a safe room. It should be located in the interior of the structure, as close to the center as possible and have no outside walls. It should be large enough to store emergency supplies as well as fit family members and pets.
Depending on the event you are preparing for these are space requirements to consider for residential one-and two-family dwellings: 7 square feet per person, and 40 square feet per bed ridden person
After deciding an appropriate size, now it’s time to think about if you are going to install the safe room in an existing home or as a separate building. If building inside an existing home, the most convenient location is the basement. Since we are in Hawaii and basements are not plentiful, placing a safe room on the first floor interior of a building will work, as long as it’s supported by interior walls. A major benefit of building a safe room within a home or garage is that it allows those inside to get to safety without having to go outside in the weather. One safety measure that comes with building a safe room in an existing building is that it has to be weighed against the challenge of retrofitting the building. The cost according to FEMA, of a 64 square foot room of their design ranges from $6,600-$9,000. A 200 square foot room ranges from $12,000-$14,500. Keep in mind that these are national averages, and are based on modifying an already existing room. Altering the structure of your home to add a safe room will have higher costs.
Design factors to consider while constructing your safe room are;
–Walls: Sturdy and resist high velocity projectiles, resistant to positive & negative wind pressures. Should be made with concrete or reinforced with steel anchors and be windowless
–Doors: Made of solid wood or metal, door frame should be reinforced if possible
–Windows: If you do not have an interior room to use as a safe room, it is important that any windows in your room are reinforced. You can install bullet proof glass, reinforce existing with shatterproof laminate, install Plexiglas windows, but the best option is to have metal hurricane shutters.
–Power: Back-up power source like a Goal Zero Solar powered generator to provide light
–Ventilation: A ventilation system independent of outside power lines is worth considering because of the same size of safe rooms and the possibility the room could be needed for more than 24 hours. To prevent air leakage, safe room should not have lay-in ceilings, unless there are hard ceiling above.
–Sleeping Area & Storage: Because there is no way of telling if at some point you will need to stay for over 24 hours, consider additional floor area to accommodate sleeping. Also think about if you have a need for cabinets or special lockers, include these as additional needed area in design
Here are a couple smaller items you can add to your safe room: =
-Install a hard-wired phone in the room
-Place a 72-hour emergency kit for each person in safe room
If you are retrofitting an already existing room, there are pre-fabricated safe room kits that can be purchased. If you go this route, you may want to have your room inspected to make sure it meets FEMA design requirements. If you have any questions or are considering having a professionally built safe room, you can contact us anytime.
Below are some helpful links:
Click here to check if your home is in a hurricane evacuation zone or an area prone to flooding:
Follow this link to see the requirements of building a safe room in your home:http://www.honolulu.gov/rep/site/ocs/roh/ROHChapter16a13.pdf
How come no one ever talks about the remodeling of a condo here on the islands? All you hear about in Honolulu’s home improvement industry is the remodeling of a home, or the construction of a new one. What about the fixer upper condo’s that are hiding in plain sight. There are far more condos for sale in Hawaii then there are homes.
There is a lot of thought that goes into the remodeling of a condo. It’s best to keep in mind if it’s for your own benefit or if you decide to sell the property in a few years. Planning to stay for over 5 years then design for yourself. Having a goal of designing for yourself, helps you in deciding how much money you are willing to put into your project. If you decide to sell the property sooner than treat the project as if you’re flipping a home. Flipping could help you save in the long run because it usually requires less money since the goal is to sell the property.
Prioritization is key when deciding to renovate your space. It is best to have a budget and keep track of all expenses during the process. Most times it will cost more than you think, so be sure you are financially responsible. Before you start any renovations make sure you get a scope of your project. Having a plan will help you before any work starts to begin. Now comes the time to hiring the professionals. Often times people find their design and construction professionals through word of mouth. It’s always a good idea to compare three quotes, so you can get quality work for a reasonable price. Make sure they each have a detailed list of what needs to be done and the types of materials you plan to use. Once you have decided on a contractor, it is now time to get all the appropriate building and city permits needed for your project. Once all these necessary steps have been taken, it is now time for construction to begin.
During the time of the remodeling there are pros and cons of staying in your home depending on the scope of work. If there is only minor changes being done, it would be a good idea to stay in your home. One of the biggest advantages of staying while work is being done is that you can monitor the contractor’s progress every day. While being on site you can also address any issues as they occur and save time and money. The downside of being in your home is all the mess that comes with the work being done. If you are having a full gut remodeling there wouldn’t be a way for you stay during the renovation. You wouldn’t have any working appliances and it would take longer for the contractors to get the job done. Make sure to consider these things when deciding to stay or leave during the renovation .
After the work is done there is a final walk through process, so you and your contractor can walk through the project together and discuss any issues you may have before moving in. Create a punch list of items that are the very last list of unfinished work. After the work on this list is completed, your contractor will expect to be paid. At the end of the job, the contractor owes you certain paper work which could include the following; Written warranty statements, operating and maintenance manuals, inspections data card, and an original certificate of occupancy. Once you have received these documents, it’s now time to give the final payment.
During this time of renovations the national average cost is $36,845. Most homeowners spent between $17,170 – $60,507 on their projects. You can expect the costs in Hawaii to be higher on average.
Here is an example of a kitchen renovation that Barker Kappelle completed in 2014
We are excited to have another one of our projects featured in Hawaii Home & Remodeling. This Month’s issue features a Kahala home we built in 2015. One of the home’s highlights is its backyard. It was designed to maximize outdoor spaces for Barbecues and get-togethers with friends and family. The backyard is centered around the pool bar and the lovely tiled pool. Inside, floating cabinets highlight the bathrooms and generous amounts of mahogany add a dark accent to the light paint palette.