Getting Your Vacation Home Ready for a Hurricane

Hurricanes have been more common and more intense over the past few decades and that trend is expected to continue. So, concerned homeowners on the coasts are asking how they can protect those homes from hurricane damage. 

The best time to get your home hurricane-ready is as soon as possible. Hurricanes can quickly escalate from a tropical storm to a Category 4 or 5 and it's best to be prepared. But it's some that's easy to overlook in the excitement of buying your home, finding a property manager, getting ready to rent it out. The good news is you can do these things even if you've owned the home for a while. 

Insurance

Not all home insurance is created equally. Be sure to go through your plan and see if you're covered for wind and flood damage, what conditions or stipulations have to be met for you to get paid, and how much you're covered for. If you're not sure how to read your policy, don't be afraid to call your insurance agent and ask her to go over it with you. It's also incredibly helpful to have a home inventory before a storm hits. Your inventory should list all your valuables, their serial numbers, when you bought them, and where they are in your house so the insurance adjuster can have an accurate picture of all your valuables. You can make an inventory on a spreadsheet or you can use a tool like HomeZada, a tool that manages your inventory, maintenance schedule, finances and more. l 

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Check Your Flood Zone

If your beach house is on the ocean, there's a good chance you're in a flood zone—even if you're not beach front. You can know for sure by checking the flood maps for your area. If you are in the flood zone and you have a mortgage, chances are you're required to carry flood insurance. If you're not in the flood zone, that doesn't mean you won't flood during a major storm. Take a look at different policies, what they cover, and how much they cost before you choose one that's right for you and your home. 

Make a Vacation Home Inventory 

Your vacation home isn't your full-time residence. So it's easy to forget that you have that old TV in the guest room or if you left that Bluetooth speaker in the owner's closet last time you were there. Take an inventory of all the major appliances, electronics, and other valuables that you have in your home. Be sure to include serial numbers, pictures of receipts, and any other details about them. This will help speed the insurance process along if you ever need it. Plus, it's a great security measure in case your renters ever break something or accidentally walk away with one of your items.  

Secure Your Home

Once you have the inventory and insurance done, it's time to start physically securing your home. There are some aspects that will need to be a permanent fix and some that are temporary, just to be used during a storm. 

Windows

Without some sort of protection, your windows are likely to break, allowing water, dirt, and other debris to get into your home and cause a lot of damage. Hurricane shutters and hurricane glass can protect your windows from high wind speeds. 

Roof

When the winds are howling, your roof is at risk. The right gust of wind can lift it right off, which spells disaster for the rest of your home. That's because your typical roof is held on by nails that are hammered in at an angle. It works fine for normal wind and rain but pulls out easily during major storms. Hurricane clips help make your home more resistant to wind and are fairly easy to DIY

Garage Door

Your garage door isn't designed to hold up to strong winds so it becomes another weak spot in your home. These doors aren't designed to hold up to strong winds. You can build or buy a brace system for them that would consist of anchors drilled into the concrete and braces on the doors. During nice weather, the brace can be set aside in the garage. Before a storm, you can put the whole thing together pretty quickly. 

Odds and Ends

Right before a storm, you'll have to batten down the hatches If you know you can't make it to your vacation home on short notice if there's a storm coming, you might want to consider working with a property manager who can take care of some of these things for you.

  • Clear Gutters: Clogged gutters can lead to flooding and that's the last thing you need during a hurricane. 
  • Bring in any furniture or outside decorations: In a high-wind situation, these are just going to cause more damage to yours or your neighbor's home when they fly around. 
  • Take care of any dead trees or hanging limbs: Anything that looks precarious is probably going to fall as soon as it gets windy. 
  • Move valuables to top-level/bring them to your full-time home: That includes your TVs, cameras, and computers. 
  • Cover air conditioner 

Severe weather doesn't mean you can't enjoy owning a second home—it just means you need to be more prepared!