June first marks the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season, and with predictions for bigger and deadlier storms this year due to the transition to La Niña, coupled with above-average sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico, meteorologists are urging inhabitants of hurricane-prone areas to take extra precautions. Thanks to climate change, this trend towards more violent and volatile weather is showing no signs of slowing down, but a North Carolina based company named Deltec Homes has decided to fight back with hurricane-resistant homes that are so storm-proof, they’ve survived the likes of both Sandy and Katrina.
Deltec Homes was started in 1968 in Asheville, NC as a builder of hurricane-resistant round homes in seaside resort communities, particularly in the Atlantic south, where hurricanes are an ever present threat to coastal homes. Although the company has recently expanded into rectilinear Net Zero Energy Homes with the launch of the new Renew Collection (we wrote about it here), Deltec originally made a name for itself with iconic storm resistant round homes. Initially commissioned for seaside resort communities, these structures soon became sought after by homeowners across the country for their striking aesthetics and durability.
Deltec’s hurricane resistant homes are so strong that in over 48 years and with over 5,000 homes built, they’ve never had a home lost due to hurricanes or high winds of any kind. And that is all the more impressive considering that Deltec homes have stood against some of the most detrimental storms in history including Hurricanes Hugo, Sandy, Katrina, Ivan, Andrew and Charley.
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So what makes Deltec Homes different from other homes? The earliest forms of human shelter were round – inspired by Mother Nature’s most structurally stable ovoid designs such as the egg. Unlike traditional box-shaped homes, round homes possess only octagonally slight corners and sides. In the absence of sharp corners, wind and waves are permitted to flow freely around the house rather than allowing the kinds of pressure buildups that typically lead to structural failures.
Circular homes are held together by a greater number of interconnected points, making their joints both more flexible and stronger than rectilinear constructions. For these same reasons (slight corners, smoother flow of wind), round roofs are far more successful at withstanding wind and are less susceptible to being lifted off in a storm. Radial floor and roof trusses, which meet in a center ring like spokes on a wheel, lock the building in a constant state of compression, which further reinforces the building’s strength.
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In addition to the impressive physics supporting these round homes, Deltec’s trusses and walls are composed of framing lumber that is twice as strong as traditional framing, while their reinforced windows and factory-precise prefab panels work to keep wind and water out. With an emphasis on environmental responsibility, these energy-efficient homes have the option to be topped with a reflective roof that minimizes radiant heat gain. An airtight envelope along with smart window placement and passive solar design, helps maintain the home’s balanced internal temperature. Deltec’s wide variety of add-ons and configurations allow buyers to incorporate solar power, triple paned glass, and more to make the home net-zero energy. The company recently achieved B Corp certification for meeting the highest level of verified social and environmental performance.
With stormy weather on the horizon and speculation that hurricanes will increasingly begin to affect cities that least expect it, prospective homeowners might find it helpful to consider all their options before settling on a traditionally shaped house. These prefab round houses ship anywhere in the world, and according to Deltec’s Rachel Kassinger, “Since Deltec started in 1968 we’ve never lost a home due to hurricanes or high winds of any kind. The most damage ever reported were a few lost shingles off of a roof. It’s an extraordinary record considering our homeowners have had direct hits from some of the most damaging storms including Sandy, Katrina, Hugo, and Charley.”
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All images © Deltec and Cayman Villas.