With each passing year, the occurrence of natural disasters becomes more frequent and the damage from such events remains catastrophic for homeowners and communities. Climate-related natural disasters have cost the United States more than $2 trillion since 1980, according to findings from the Disaster Medicine Fellowship at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and the count of billion-dollar natural disasters has increased from three in 1980 to 22 as recently as 2020.

Against this backdrop, fortifying the homes that are built is as important an endeavor as ever. To this end, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) tasked the Home Innovation Research Labs with developing a set of “practical, actionable guidelines” to assist builders and developers in constructing structures in a manner “that could improve residential resilience to natural hazards and integrate resiliency throughout the community.”

The final product is five volumes that cover designing for resilience against wind, water, fire, earth, and auxiliary hazards (such as extreme temperatures and hail). According to the authors, the resilience guides are intended to enhance and improve above-code performance while providing details on construction practices and common damage occurrences from various natural disasters.

“What’s unique about these guides is that [similar documents] provide a laundry list of natural hazards, correlate them in some way, and tell you the 15 things you need to do,” says John Peavey, director of the business science division at Home Innovation Research Labs. “The guides are totally different; they are defined in a way where if you are thinking about the type of damage you will sustain from this hazard, this is how you can mitigate, prevent, or minimize that type of damage.”

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